Eye on England
A photograph has just emerged of the steel tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal, and other members of his family - wife Usha, son Aditya, daughter Vanisha, son-in law Amit Bhatia, and two of his granddaughters - at the Great Ormond Street Hospital. This hospital receives over 600 children a day, many with critical illnesses. The photograph was taken last month when the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who is expecting her third child, inaugurated the completed Mittal Children's Medical Centre at the world-famous hospital.
The modernization was made possible with a £15 million donation from Aditya and his wife, Megha, the biggest individual gift the hospital has received. But, to their credit, there have been no public relations puffs from the Mittals. "Personally, we have reason to be very grateful to Great Ormond Street Hospital," was all that Aditya, a father of two, would say (although he did once take me into his confidence). "We are delighted to be in a position to give something back."
With 240 beds in the brand new wards, there is now space for parents to stay comfortably overnight with their children. The hospital thanked the Mittals for their "generous" support.
Will Lakshmi, the chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world's leading steel and mining company, and Aditya, its chief financial officer, invest in West Bengal? At the Bengal Global Business Summit, Lakshmi, Mamata Banerjee's new best friend, said: "I hope that I will also be able to contribute in some meaningful way." The Mittals' top priority is to reduce ArcelorMittal's debt from $10 billion to $6 billion. They do have a spending kitty this year of $3.8 billion but this is committed to investments in Italy, Mexico and Europe.
Remember the scares
Earlier this week, I stopped at the first really scary line in Mary Shelley's Gothic novel, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus: "It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs." In such a fashion does the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, give birth to a giant monster made by assembling limbs from dead bodies.
Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was only 20 when her novel was published anonymously in 1818. Since 1910, it has seen numerous film adaptations. In Britain and in many other countries, events are being held to mark the 200th anniversary of the book's publication. Alongside, I am also reading Fiona Sampson's just-published scholarly biography, In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein, which has sought to rescue the author from the shadow of her celebrity husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
On BBC Radio 4 this week, Sampson slapped down a man who suggested that the poet was the book's "co-author", simply because he had corrected his wife's spelling of "enigmatic" in the manuscript. According to Sampson's biography, "Her novel is an exploration of the consequences of being a monster, and it is not a comedy but a tragedy, as her choice for the book's epigraph makes clear."
" Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay/ To mould me Man? Did I solicit thee/ From darkness to promote me?"
"It's the cry of protest that Adam makes to God in Paradise Lost, John Milton's tough, often bitter, retelling of the Biblical account of human creation," concludes Sampson.
A symbol to take pride in
Where would we be without the Taj Mahal in Agra? In the past few weeks, I have been paying special attention to travel advertisements for India in all the papers. The Taj Mahal is invariably the symbol of India. To slightly misquote Dev Kant Barooah, "India is the Taj and the Taj is India."
This week there was a lyrical travel piece on the Taj - accompanied by an artist's sketch - by Patrick Scott in the Financial Times: "The only way to see the Taj at night is under a full moon". He has spoken to the Archaeological Survey of India's superintendent in Agra, Bhuvan Vikrama, who dismissed claims that the site was originally a Shiva temple as "concocted". "There is no mention of any temple being here, nor are there any structural remains of one".
Eat clean and live well
A heart surgeon friend of mine, who says Indians are two to three times more prone to getting diabetes and cardio-vascular disease than the rest of the world's population, recommends cutting out everything from rice and roti to cake, biscuits, potato, chocolates, sugar, cereals, and, sadly, all forms of mishti, from one's diet.
On Tuesday, when my local general practitioner's surgery held a workshop on diabetes, I went along. I learnt that snacking on grapes is not a good idea, and the consumption of sweet fruit - mangoes, bananas, pineapples - is discouraged. So is drinking sweetened fruit juice.
But Adam would be pleased - apples, apparently, "are good". Another important thing that must be kept in mind - one should not have a heavy meal last thing at night and then go to bed.
Imran Khan allegedly began an affair with his third wife, Bushra Maneka, while still married to his second. "Imran Khan was in contact with Bushra three years ago when I was his wife," alleges Reham Khan. Jemima Goldsmith still tweets about Imran: "Gulp - just realised my children's parent wants to be President. (Someone corrects Jemima that she must have meant 'prime minister'.) "I could tweet literally anything (existential despair/ Trump's combover/ my toothbrush) & still guarantee I'll get at least five replies, asking, 'will you re-marry Imran Khan?'"