| Clicking game: Dandiya Raas of the North London Lohana Community
Love, romance and couples clicking
For Bengalis, Durga Puja in Britain is a religious-cum-social occasion. Navratri is the same for Gujaratis except for them it is also a time for matchmaking.
During Dandiya Raas, if a young couple click, literally and romantically, their budding relationship will be given every encouragement by their families.
Young people can find their partner, confirmed Janubhai Kotecha, president of the North London Lohana Community.
Britains economically affluent Gujarati community, between 3,00,000 and 4,00,000 strong, have been celebrating Navratri at 40 venues across the country. I went to one at Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre in Chiswick, west London, where about 1,000 devotees danced the Garba and the Dandiya Raas after performing aarti.
The hypnotic spectacle of men, women and children rotating on the floor of the spacious leisure centre was reminiscent of figures in a Lowry painting.
They are all mixed, mused Janubhai, reflecting on peoples jobs. There are accountants, lawyers, doctors, investors, cash and carry big traders; we have got the Madhvani group here, mixtures of industrialist people and that is the way we keep the community intact. The chairman of the Dhamecha cash and carry group, who is a big sponsor for tonight, is here.
The young women, some in quite daring cholis that would not look out of place on Mallika Sherawat, had turned out in their finery.
Since potential matchmaking was in progress, wouldnt it be helpful, I wondered, if candidates wore badges, stipulating not just their ages but also their salaries: for example, 24, £37,215 or 47, £2,50,000 plus office car?
Jayesh Manek, a knowledgeable fund manager, grinned but shook his head. Back in the 1990s, Ganesh clearly smiled on him because for two successive years Jayesh, then a west London pharmacist, won a fantasy fund competition run by The Sunday Times.
There was no need for such salary tags, he suggested, because somebody or the other knows (what people earn) so it all works out very well.
| Focus India: Sir Evelyn Rothschild
Bertie Wooster would have recognised Sir Evelyn de Rothschild as a thoroughly good egg.
His name crops up regularly among delegates attending Indian business summits.
He has explored the possibilities of going into retail shopping with Sunil Mittal of Bharti Enterprises, for example. And when the Confederation of Indian Industry held a summit in New Delhi in 2009, I noticed that Sir Evelyn was part of the high-powered business delegation from the UK. One photograph showed him seated next to Kapil Sibal, then minister for science and technology.
But who are the Rothschilds?
If its a ripping yarn youre after, try the Rothschild family, teases an article in Tatler. Youve got banking dramas, divorce, drugs, wartime heroics, jazz, jail, grand-scale philanthropy, the stage, the screen — the lot.
Included in the Rothschild family tree is Amartya Sens wife, Emma Georgina Rothschild (born 1948), the daughter of Victor, 3rd Baron Rothschild (1910-1990), and his second wife, Teresa Georgina Mayer.
Emma, an academic in her own right and a professor of history at Harvard, married Amartya in 1991.
The Rothschild family tree throws up other interesting connections. For example, Jemima Khans younger brother, Ben, 30, is married to Kate Rothschild (born 1982) — Kate is the daughter of Emmas late brother, Amschel Mayor James Rothschild (1955-1996).
If Jemima were to bump into Amartya at, say, a book launch, she could say: Uncle, we are related by marriage.
Sir Evelyn, who is pictured in Tatler with his American lawyer wife, Lynn Forester, is described as a veritable goldmine — you cant swing a cat without hitting one of his properties.
His holding company is called E.L. Rothschild Ltd, while his charitable foundation, Eranda, set up in 1967, has contributed to the Manmohan Singh scholarship scheme, as has Sunil Mittal. Named after the Indian Prime Minister, the scheme offers scholarships to brilliant Indian students tenable at Cambridge.
Tatler calls Sir Evelyn an old school billionaire.
Sunil Mittal and other Indians need to do their homework if they are to do business with Sir Evelyn, who seems a good friend for India to have.
Life in England would be so different if we got used to warm, sunny weather. Still, for a few days we have enjoyed an Indian summer. Temperatures on three days in October have been the highest for the month since records began, reaching 29.6°C (85.3°F), before dropping sharply to nearer 10°C (50°F).
In parks and gardens, the leaves, which have turned colour, have been fluttering down from the trees. There is always a sense of passing time about an English summer — and summers lease hath all too short a date.
Another colleague from my early Daily Telegraph days, Tony Conyers, has passed away. I remember one night when all of us rolled around in helpless mirth after he rang up and apologised to a peer whose obituary had appeared in the paper that morning. There was more than one Lord McDonald and Conyers had killed off the wrong one.
The Old Theatre at the London School of Economics (LSE) will be packed for a speech by another great scholar, following the recent appearance by Imran Khan.
The LSE has just announced that Dr Ramachandra Guha, who holds the Philippe Roman Chair 2011-12 as a visiting professor for a year, will deliver his inaugural lecture on October 25 on Arguments With Gandhi.
Judging by the speech that Guha delivered in Oxford earlier in the summer, I am depending on him to come up with a lot of jokes. But he is not giving anything away.
Cant provide a summary just yet, Ram tells me, but I promise a few surprises!
Lord Swraj Pauls country residence in Buckinghamshire is not too far away, so he should be able to pop round to his local pub, the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, which last week became the first pub in Britain to win two Michelin stars in the good food guide.
The accolade is good news for pubs since so many are being forced to close because of the recession.
Swraj, 80, is a vegetarian and cannot enjoy slow-cooked duck breast with peas, duck fat chips and gravy for £23.50, but my friends from India, who are forever asking to be taken to a pub, can. Still, Swraj can have the parsley soup.
When Tony Blair went to India in 2002, he made history in Hyderabad by becoming the first British Prime Minister to wear a Nehru jacket.
It was a piece of symbolism that delighted Indians but hugely irritated his critics back home because they thought he was sucking up to the natives.
A few days ago when he was in New Delhi, telling Manmohan Singh about his Tony Blair Faith Foundation over lunch, I reminded him about the Nehru jacket (which had been tailored by Babs Mahil, a Punjabi fashion designer in London).
Ive still got that and whats more, I still fit into it, laughed Blair, who ought to give the garment a second outing.