Retelling of a Tiger’s tale
Another Oxbridge entrance test for those wishing to read philosophy, particle physics or just attend parties: compare and contrast the tragic events of July 9, 2012, when the South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, 35, immediately announced his retirement from international cricket after being hit in his left eye with a flying bail with those on July 1, 1961, when Oxford University captain the Nawab of Pataudi, 21, decided to fight on after losing his right eye in a car accident in Hove.
| Royal company: Kareena Kapoor with Shahryar Khan to her right at a Pataudi memorial lunch in London
The man I wanted to consult was Nawabzada Shahryar Mohammad Khan, “Tiger” Pataudi’s first cousin but I did not have what the Americans call his “co-ordinates”. Going to dinner in St John’s Wood, north London, who should I bump into queuing to get onto a bus that very evening but Mrs and Mr Shahryar Khan.
“In India we would say you would live a long time,” I said to Shahryar Khan, 78, former Pakistan foreign secretary and one time chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Anyway, Shahryar remembers that day more than half a century ago when he, then third secretary at the Pakistani High Commission in London, rushed to meet Tiger in hospital.
“I really was very, very upset and so was his mother who was in London at the time,” he recalls.
That summer Tiger had already hit four centuries for Oxford against strong county sides. “He was on his way to fulfilling his promise of probably being one of the greatest batsmen of all time.”
Shahryar remembers Tiger’s words: “He said, ‘I am not going to let go. I am going to continue playing cricket. The only thing I ever wanted to do was follow in my father’s footsteps.’ If you ask me why he was so determined it is because cricket was in his blood. He was determined to fulfil his promise.”
Nothing if not fair, Shahryar points out that while Boucher had intended retiring at the end of South Africa’s current tour of England, “Tiger on the other hand was just beginning his career. Tiger was very courageous and began to score runs and Test centuries but he wasn’t the fluent player that he was before.”
| Art lover: Nirmalya Kumar at the London Business School
Nirmalya Kumar, who has one of the best known Jamini Roy collections, was last week elected an honorary fellow of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) for his support of South Asian art.
Nirmalya, who is professor of marketing and co-director of Aditya Birla India Centre at the London Business School, hosted a Gitanjali evening at his London home last month, with readings by Sharmila Tagore.
The SOAS citation made the point that rather than treat his Jamini Roy and Tagore paintings as private, Nirmalya “sees himself as a custodian to help increase the visibility of these artists”.
In reply, Nirmalya said he had been here, there and everywhere. “Whilst now having set up a permanent home in Calcutta, I made what will be my last move to London, the only truly global multicultural city. Here I can be global citizen, a UK national and an Indian. It is against this personal context that my support for Indian arts should be understood. It is a quest for the meaning of identity in a globalised world.
“In conclusion, let me just say that I have been fortunate to lecture in more than 60 countries, live in four of them,” he said, “but it had taken me 50 years to understand that you can visit many countries, hold many nationalities, but you can only be from one place — and I am from Calcutta. My collection is an attempt to create a mini Calcutta in central London.”
I am usually not so generous with my marking but I am tempted to give Nirmalya A+ for his little speech.
| Cheers: Jeev Milkha Singh
Jeev Milkha Singh’s recent triumph in the Scottish Open means it may not be long before the Indian subcontinent produces its very own Tiger Woods.
This is the prediction of British author Grant Gordon, whose book, Cobras in the Rough: An Indian Odyssey, is about his experiences of playing in “25 to 30 golf courses all over India”.
“Golf is still a rich man’s game in India but there are a lot of new players, especially women, coming in,” Grant tells me.
“It’s brilliant that Jeev Milkha Singh won the Scottish!” he enthuses. “Quite a landmark in the rise of Indian golf.”
Grant insists Jeev’s victory was no fluke. “The future is amazingly optimistic for Indian golf.”
| Double take: Paul as Einstein
We will soon see veteran actor Paul Bhattacharjee in Stratford-upon-Avon cast as Benedick opposite Meera Syal’s Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, set in a modern Indian context by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Last week, I saw Paul play Albert Einstein in the Donmar Theatre’s production of The Physicists, a 1961 German play in which three scientists in a sanatorium pretend to be mad to stop their research being abused in the pursuit of war.
Paul, whose father was Bengali, was born in Britain but the family went back to Calcutta for some years. “I was in Santiniketan for a while,” he said, during a chat outside the Donmar.
There is just a chance that Paul will be in a play about the interaction between Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore “but this time I will play Tagore”.
Perhaps Shahnaz Husain can be persuaded not to treat every celebrity passing as a PR opportunity to promote her potions.
Rajesh Khanna’s death sent her PR team into overdrive: “We all are saddened by the sudden dismiss (sic) (demise?) of Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna. Attached pl. find a write up and picture wherein Ms. Shahnaz Husain shares her memory of receiving the Udyog Jyoti Award for her contribution to India’s economic development in 1992 from Late Rajesh Khanna. We would appreciate your featuring this.”
A year ago, journalists in London were pestered with similar emails when M.F. Husain died. In questionable taste were images of Shahnaz posing before ambulances in front of the hospital where MF died: “Please find the attached pic of Ms. Shahnaz Husain today at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS foundation trust after visiting Mr Husain’s famil (sic) along (with) the write up today.”
On June 7 this year, on the anniversary of MF’s death, there was another PR release: “Attached is Late M.F. Husain’s picture with Ms. Shahnaz Husain... Request you to make it part of your esteemed publication.”
Anyway, the next celebrity feeling a little unwell had better watch out. Shahnaz is even now preparing to condole your departure while looking up the photo she had taken with you.
Indian family life in England is not always peaceful. Rajvinder Kaur, 37, of Southampton, was sent to prison for 11 years last week for murdering her mother-in-law Baljit Kaur Buttar, 56, by hitting her with a rolling pin “20 times”. Mrs Buttar, who had come from India, overstayed her welcome by staying six months and constantly calling Rajvinder “names”.
Winchester Crown Court heard that the victim’s son, Iqbal Singh, returned home and had a heated argument with his wife when he discovered his mother was no more.