| Champagne girls: Tanuja Chandra and Mahima Chaudhry
Needed, Bhajjis glossary of Indian gaalis
The Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord (Chris) Patten, was the first person to draw my attention to Vikram Chandras monumental 900-page novel, Sacred Games (I am now up to page 496, while my younger brother in Calcutta has beaten me to the end). Lord Patten told me he would have relished reading the book even more had he understood the swear words that litter almost every other page.
Vikram happens to currently be in Berkeley, teaching creative writing it must be fun being one of his students. He is also learning to be a father, with his writer wife, Melanie Abrams, to their baby daughter.
I took up the issue of the novels colourful language with his younger sister, film director Tanuja Chandra (their mother, Kamna Chandra, is a screenplay writer 1942: A Love Story is her work and another sister, Anupama Chopra, is a journalist and film critic: family meals probably end with Cut).
Tanuja, who was in London with her lead actress Mahima Chaudhary, sipping champagne before her film, Hope and a Little Sugar, was screened last week at Bafta, grinned: Yes, my mother was a bit shocked.
But Tanuja hastened to Vikrams defence, pointing out that bhais in the Bombay underworld do talk like that even ordinary people talk like that. Every day Vikram would go out and do some research.
Mahima, incidentally, has just finished Shantaram, which she recommends highly, and intends starting on Sacred Games, which has been gifted to her by Tanuja.
| Proud daddy: Manab Mazumdar
We have all been so sick with worry about whether Prince Harry should or shouldnt have served in Afghanistan that the British media and public have not had time to think about the safety of Sanjoy Mazumdar, who is doing a stint as a BBC correspondent in Kabul except possibly his 63-year-old dad, Manab Mazumdar, back in London.
I am very proud of him, confides Manab when I bump into him. He has done two weeks of a four-week stint in Kabul. Of course, I worry about him but he says, What can I do? Its my work.
In his time, Manab has been many things journalist, PR person, friend and adviser to former London hostess with the mostest Ramola Bachchan as well as assorted Indian cricketers, Care International executive, chairman of the Durga Puja Committee, and fish curry cooker, Bengali style.
Father and son share a close relationship. Last time I invited Manab home for dinner I opened the door to find Master Sanjoy on the doorstep. Manab was unwell so he had stepped in manfully to represent his father. With that kind of intrepid spirit, I am sure the young reporter will be king in Kabul.
|Stay connected: Som Mandal
Som Mandal was in London but he could see and talk to his secretary, Eden Mcgregor, in Noida, near Delhi, all part of the joys of the latest techniques in video conferencing.
Som (who will probably be christened Sam by his British associates in England) is the managing partner of FoxMandal Little, a legal firm started in Calcutta in 1896 by his great grandfather, Golkul Chandra Mandal, and an Englishman, John K. Fox. It was then developed by Soms grandfather, Sudhir K. Mandal, and his father, Dinu Mandal, now aged 76 and based as the seniormost partner in Calcutta.
Som, who is 46, was on the 5th floor of the office his firm has just set up in King Street in the City of London, with a camera transmitting his voice and image to his secretary standing in the conference room at the companys headquarters in India. There was an identical arrangement the other way round.
Thanks to the Internet, the live link can remain switched on round the clock. With a leased line, the pictures can be even sharper, explained Som, who is very proud of his new £30,000 toy.
Of course, there is no substitute for the personal link, I suggested, being able, for example, to share a coffee with a client.
Yes, agreed Som. People can have a coffee in the conference room here and, at the same time, people can have a coffee in the conference room there.
|All in the voice: Sudha Bhuchar
In the pursuit of equality, the BBC has been championing the cause of women presenters and quite right, too, most people would say. But a few high profile ones have such harsh, rasping voices that they invariably make me (and probably many other listeners) switch off. There is one well known male presenter with a voice so grating I am surprised he is allowed to inflict so much punishment on innocent listeners.
In contrast, Sue MacGregor on Radio 4 and Heather Payton, who presents Outlook on BBC World Service she must have millions of fans across the globe are just about perfect, demonstrating that, for radio presenters especially, the quality of the voice does matter.
The British Indian actress, Sudha Bhuchar, who is also co-director of Tamasha, a theatre company she set up with her friend, Kristine Landon-Smith, in 1989, falls into the latter category. She did the voice over for the BBC documentary on the Ganges last year, which made viewing that much more enjoyable. It is a relief Sudha will also be reading the explanatory text when the British Library tells the story of The Ramayana: Love and Valour in Indias Great Epic from May 16 to September 14, 2008, using volumes from the collection of Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar (1628-1652).
IPL (Indian Political League)
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is terrified that the county game will suffer if the Indian Premier League takes off and eventually succeeds in luring away the top English players with lucrative offers. Dimitri Mascarenhas, the Hampshire and England one-day player has been allowed to sign, but for the moment, he is an exception.
The comparison is with the crisis in 1977-78 when the English cricket authorities, who had banned English cricketers from joining Kerry Packers World Series Cricket, lost a battle in the High Court in London against the Australian magnate. A similar ban on players who join the IPL could also be deemed restraint of trade.
Some leader writers in London are thinking India should now lead the world in organising a new IPL (Indian Political League) with an auction of politicians. The states, the major parties and even the centre in India could get rid of non-performing politicians and buy in the best from around the world.
Alastair Darling, presenting his first budget last week as successor to Gordon Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer, predicted the British economy would grow by between 1.75 per cent and 2.25 per cent in 2008 faster than Japan, the US and the Euro area.
How could little old Britain do well, he cleverly suggested, when the big boys, including India, were not immune from the economic slow down.
Even the fastest growing markets: China, India and Brazil, which have enjoyed record growth in recent years, are expected to slow, he said.
With such excuses whether Darling will have a job after the next election, as the BBC would say, remains to be seen.