Shahnaz Hussain with Tarun Tahiliani
They are both icons in their own right and are known to employ varying degrees of camp in their works. So when designer Tarun Tahiliani dropped in at beautician Shahnaz Hussain’s home this week, naturally, it was over the top and a paean to effusion. Hussain, famous for her penchant for giant pink hearts, stuffed teddy bears, gilded consoles and velveteen sofas, had baked a special cake for the occasion to welcome the celebrated designer, and Tahiliani, on his part, said he swore by her skin products.
The cake she baked for him
And of course, he promised to reserve a front-row seat at his upcoming haute couture outing in Delhi for the icon. And yes, the ever-splendorous Hussain was sporting her lustrous orange mane, her animal stripes and her oversized glares!
Imtiaz Dharker, Rahul Singh and Niloufer Billimoria at her home.
Singh in England
Veteran writer Rahul Singh, son of the late Khushwant Singh, has been an intrepid traveller right from his early days when he so memorably used to travel with Frank Simoes and Dom Moraes, and file travelogues about his rambunctious journeys. Currently, the Cambridge-educated Singh is on an extended sojourn through England, from where posts of his travel have been delighting us. From visiting Ballynahinch Castle in Ireland, where the legendary Ranjit Singhji spent last years of his life (he loved the place because of its proximity to great fishing as that became his passion after his cricketing days were behind him), which had been converted into a hotel, to attending Wimbledon, and having tea with erstwhile Mumbaikar poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker at her home near the St Paul’s Cathedral in London. “She produced an amazing spread of scones, strawberries, blackberries and cream, and various sandwiches, topped by champagne,” he said. “Then, her daughter Ayesha (the celebrated actress) and Ayesha’s five-year-old daughter Ava dropped in.”
Incidentally, Singh informs, Ayesha’s husband works with Dr Kartar Lalwani who only last week had joined us for tea in Mumbai.
All this just goes to show what we’ve always maintained that there’s a two-degree separation between London and Mumbai which almost appear as suburbs of the same city!
Priyanka Chopra and TJ Shah
Who’s the prettiest?
It’s not just millennial chefs who get to travel to glamorous places. Make-up artists are not too far behind. Only recently, Mumbai-based freelance make-up stylist T J Shah was quaffing bubbly in St Moritz while working on a destination wedding. And last week, at the opening of a Bandra eatery, he happened to bump into none other than global glam diva Priyanka Chopra, when he clicked this selfie. And so glowing are both, that a ‘mirror mirror on the wall’ is not required. Clearly, a makeup artist knows the secret to flawless good skin.
“It was her manager Mrunal’s birthday. So they got together at the new joint. Priyanka’s so pleasant and proper,” Shah says. And, incidentally, it’s his birthday today.
French in Ahmedabad
As we had said only last week, when announcing the appointment of Mumbai-based industrialist Rajesh Shah as chairman of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, not all recent appointments are odious. This belief has been further validated with news that Delhi-based British writer and historian Patrick French has been appointed as Dean of the new School of Arts and Sciences at Ahmedabad University. French is not only a celebrated author (his books include Younghusband: the Last Great Imperial Adventurer, a biography of Francis Younghusband; and The World Is What It Is), the authorised biography of Nobel laureate V S Naipaul won him America’s National Book Critics Circle Award.
Besides this, both French and his wife, the well-known publisher Meru Gokhale, inhabit the top echelons of Delhi’s intelligentsia and are known to subscribe to progressive liberal views, which can only augur well for the fledging university set up by high-minded educationists with a dream of creating a world-class private teaching and research university in the heart of Gujarat.
“The opportunity to help create an actively interdisciplinary university was too good to miss,” said French, when we spoke to him yesterday. “In global terms, it’s rare to see a new school of arts and sciences coming up in this way.”
And the million-dollar question: will the couple actually move to the 180 acre campus? “Yes, I’ll get a place in Ahmedabad, but we’ll be in Delhi too because of Meru’s job,” said French. “We’re just working out the practicalities.”
Pallavi Shah with PRS Oberoi then (Top) and now (Bottom)
A candle for Pallavi
The sudden death of a friend never fails to bring home the fragility and unpredictability of life. Regular readers of this column will recall our writing about the New York-based doyenne of luxury travel Pallavi Shah and her high-end boutique enterprise ‘Our personal Guest’. Only a few months ago, we’d written how Shah had moved back to her hometown Baroda to escape New York’s nasty winters. When we’d spoken to her, she’d told us of her plans to spend January to May each year in the comfort of her familiar childhood home, which, as her business was global, afforded the chance to work out of anywhere.
This week we’d wished Shah on her birthday and learnt that she’d only recently returned to her apartment in New York from India and was already overseeing her ambitious plans to roll out ‘The Road Less Travelled’, a tour of luxury boutique hotels between Jodhpur and Udaipur.
And then yesterday, we learnt with great sadness that this international travel industry veteran, who’d spent many years as a top executive with Air India in New York, putting India on the travel map, had passed on. Goodbye, Pallavi. May your travels be even more extensive and magical now.