|SWEET SUCCESS: Mike Jatania and (below) Royal English Daisy products
She loves me, she loves me not...
When my mother-in-law in a village in deepest Cambridgeshire and my maternal grandmother in Tollygunge in Calcutta were alive, they would exchange simple gifts through me. I would take Yardleys lavender soap, the most English of products, to Calcutta, and come back with a couple of metres of handloom silk. Though they never met, they exchanged gossip via little letters which lost nothing in translation.
It struck me as ironic when the Yardley brand was bought by a Gujarati family in the UK, headed by Mike Jatania, 46, chief executive of the Lornamead group that specialises in fragrance, shampoo and other personal care products.
Mike confided to me that he was bringing out a set of special fragrances, Royal English Daisy, to mark Kate Middletons wedding to Prince William, and I passed on this intelligence to my wife, who asked all very innocently: Will you be getting some samples?
Well, no, but I offered to buy her the three very modestly priced Royal English Daisy products that are being launched in yellow packets: eau de toilette for £9.99; body spray for £2.49; and moisturising body lotion for £5.95.
The daisy, with a striking bright yellow centre surrounded by white petals, was considered the perfect flower for Kate.
Yardley London has for centuries been a manufacturer of fragrance by royal appointment currently holding two royal warrants, says Mike. It was inspired by the future princess, Miss Catherine Middleton, to create a new youthful, light and fun fragrance.
He adds: Catherines English beauty and energetic and fun loving character have been successfully encapsulated in the new Royal English Daisy fragrance. For many, the daisy flower conjures up memories of pulling out each petal, citing he loves me, he loves me not and the pleasure of being left with one petal at he loves me.
Mikes grandfather and father were born in Gujarat but settled in Uganda. Mike was born in Kampala but came to Britain at the age of five and now lives in a harmonious joint family system with four older brothers and their respective wives and children.
Three married sisters live elsewhere.
Our origins are very modest, Mike tells me. The daisy is perceived as a romantic flower, and the launch of the new Royal English Daisy collection commemorates the royal engagement and youth, honour and most of all loyal love. Daisies symbolise innocence, purity and new beginnings.
Mike has managed to combine love with business.
The Jatania brothers, whose net wealth was assessed last year at just under half a billion pounds, are in a business headed by Mike, the youngest. Their products now sell in 80 countries.
Chandrika (Chan) Shingadia still has not found the right sari to wear when she and her husband, Hashmukh (Hash), attend Kate Middletons wedding to Prince William at Westminster Abbey on April 29.
Chan and Hash, an Indian couple who run the grocery store in Kates home village of Buckleberry in Berkshire, have been invited to the great occasion by the brides parents.
Ever since word leaked out that they had received the gilt-edged invitation card from Buckingham Palace, almost every move made by the couple has been recorded by TV cameras from around the world.
When my wife went looking for a sari in Wembley (an area of west London with a large Gujarati population) last weekend, she was followed by TV cameras, her husband tells me.
Chan is now off to Gujarat to see her elderly mother and to look for a sari.
Nor is this her only preoccupation.
Since Chan and Hash are almost unofficial ambassadors for India, it is not just their prestige but also the Mother Countrys thats on the line — but what gifts to give Kate and William?
Kerala was one of the few places which offered a glimmer of hope, said naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, when he blamed the Catholic Churchs doctrine on contraception as being a major factor behind the inexorable rise in the worlds population.
Attenborough, 84, respected worldwide for his television documentaries on the animal world, told the Royal Society of Arts in London last week that the solution lay in educating women.
Wherever women have the vote, wherever they are literate, and have the medical facilities to control the number of children they bear, the birth rate falls, he said. All those civilised conditions exist in the southern Indian state of Kerala. In India as a whole the total fertility rate is 2.8 births per woman. In Kerala it is 1.7 births per woman. But compare that with the Catholic Philippines where it is 3.3.
I expect the Kerala Tourist Board is making Attenborough an offer he cannot refuse: Please stay in our Backwaters for as long as you like, sir. Bengal and Kerala have a species extinct elsewhere — they are called Marxists.
Calcutta, I am pleased to report, figures prominently in latest Daily Telegraph travel guide to heaven on earth.
Spend the morning shopping in Dotto Bagan Mor, admire the historic Milk Colony in Belgachia Villa, ride the Metro to Chandi Chowk and walk to Chowringhee where you can savour the colourful sights and sounds of Calcutta, Capital of Culture.
Actually, I made all that up, apart from the Calcutta, Capital of Culture bit.
The British handed back India in 1947 and much of Calcutta appears not to have been cleaned since, notes the writer, Adriaane Pielou.
As soon as I get home (to the UK), she reveals, I throw out the shoes I wore. But Im glad I came and saw. It makes you realise how lucky you are.
Sangeeta Datta expects a full house for the Calcutta premiere of her film, Life Goes On, at the Priya Cinema on March 25.
Sharmila Tagore will be there, says Sangeeta, along with her daughter, Soha, who has acted with her mother in a film for the first time. Her brother, Saif, is also expected (though he is not in the film).
Girish Karnad, who has been brave enough to play a Bengali doctor in Life Goes On, came to the London screening last week and has indicated he will go to Calcutta as well.
Sangeeta was upset by a dismissive review in Time Out but cheered up when Empire magazine called her film a touching and sensitively cinematic drama.
Dattas highbrow approach to grief makes for cerebral viewing and theres plenty of pathos, too, it said. A touching, thoughtful film.
Sangeeta is especially pleased that the premiere is in Calcutta. Its absolutely wonderful to be able to take my work home.
| VOWS: Joe Wright and Anoushka Shankar
There is Question Time with the young English film director Joe Wright on the last page of Tatler in which he is asked: Your defining moment?
His answer is politically Wright: The night in Delhi when my future wife first walked into the room.
Who do you love the most?
The reply: My wife.
Wright, best known for Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007), is married to Ravi Shankars daughter, Anoushka, who had her first child recently.