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Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Japan, Love from Tokyo

Ever since the new Consul General of Japan to Mumbai, Michio Harada, moved into his stately official residence at Cumballa Hill, he has transformed it.

Updated: Jan 29, 2020 08:10 IST

By Malavika Sangghvi,

(Second from left) State minister Aaditya Thackeray with (Centre) Consul General of Japan Michio Harada, and other guests.

Ever since the new Consul General of Japan to Mumbai, Michio Harada, moved into his stately official residence at Cumballa Hill, he has transformed it. From slap-up, sundowner barbeques on its sumptuous lawns to exclusive sit-down, sake and sushi dinners for two, it’s been buzzing with activity.

This week saw the youthful Harada, an avid golfer and fan of Bollywood, host a dinner to welcome the Parliamentary Speaker and delegation from Okayama City; and word comes in that amidst the mandatory speeches and toasts, it was none other than Aaditya Thackeray, Maharashtra’s newly-minted tourism and environment minister who had impressed. Clad in his customary white, small-collared shirt, the young cub evoked much laughter when he took the mike. “I am from Mumbai and this is my home and so I’m representing Maharashtra over here,” he’d said, adding, “It’s an honour to be invited here because this gathering is very crucial for the future of our state and the working ties and bilateral relations which we will take forward from here. The Speaker just mentioned that the population in Japan is dipping. And [in] India [it] is increasing, and will be number one. Therefore, we will be very happy if you can accommodate some of our people…” quipped Thackeray, eliciting much laughter.

What’s more, Thackeray’s might have not been a joke at all. We can think of at least a couple of people that he would like to exile to Japan…starting with a certain Mr DF perhaps?

TRUELIES:



With the sensational revelation of the hacking of the world’s richest and most powerful man’s phone currently riveting the world, this anecdote delivered by a well-heeled bizman about Delhi’s access to classified information might appear like small potatoes, but nevertheless…



“I received this call from a high-up in the bureaucracy. It was a very polite, very civil call, no harsh words or anything,” said the shaken man. “But it had followed closely on the heels of a critical piece I had written on the economy in a national broadsheet,” he said, adding, “The person identified himself and then very politely referred to a new initiative by my business that was about to be launched by my organisation, but which I had no knowledge of.”

“You are about to launch X next month, but it would be better if you postponed it, as the timing isn’t right,” the senior official had said to the bizman, which had taken him by complete surprise.

“I said nothing, but instantly called up my MD to check if this were true, and indeed it was correct information. That’s when it occurred to me that the caller’s message had been simple: We know things about your company that you do not know yourself…So: Down boy…”

As we were saying, compared to the hacking of the world’s richest man’s phone, it might seem like small potatoes, but nevertheless…

WTSWTM

WTS:

Two United Nations special rapporteurs released a statement on Wednesday detailing forensic evidence linking Mohammad Bin Salman to hacking of world’s richest man Jeff Bezos’s phone, which suggests the future king of Saudi Arabia may have been threatening the owner of The Washington Post and founder and CEO of Amazon.

Bezos’ phone appears to have been compromised on the day that an encrypted video downloader was sent from the Prince’s WhatsApp account to Bezos in May 2018.

The Bezos hack came to light after private texts showing that he was engaged in an extramarital relationship with Lauren Sanchez to whom he’d sent nude pictures of himself, particularly one revealing his ‘crown jewels’, reached the public domain.

— Reports in the media yesterday.

WTM:

But why so desperate MBS? He’d have sent you the nude pic if you’d only asked nicely…

A Shining Night

Neena Gupta and Viveck Vaswani at the party.

“There were lots of interesting conversations and no ‘film aristocracy’ there, only a ‘meritocracy’ that had toiled to reach here,” says actor, writer and producer (Nai Dishayen, Patthar ke Phool, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman) Viveck Vaswani, the man believed to be SRK’s oldest friend and mentor in the industry, about the convivial nostalgia-laden party hosted by director Sudhir Mishra on the occasion of his birthday. Held at Juhu’s popular Estella, the evening saw the likes of actors Neena Gupta, Kabir Bedi and Randeep Hooda; directors Anubhav Sinha and Ketan Mehta; and film critic Mayank Shekhar, amongst others, catch up over a flowing bar, prawn tempuras, mushrooms in wine, Thai curry, meatballs and fragrant noodles and “a whole bunch of stuff which was lost on a crowd full of nostalgic bonhomie!” says Vaswani.

Incidentally, two delightful takeaways from the evening: Gupta, one of the industry’s most acclaimed and successful actors, found herself quarrelling fondly with old friend Sinha about why he’d not cast her in his latest film. Of course, she says, it was friendly banter and a normal occurrence at such events, so no offence was meant or taken. Meanwhile, birthday boy Mishra was informed by Bedi that “we stop counting our birthdays after 50”.

“So at best it was Sudhir’s 50th birthday, and we were all a happy 21,” says Vaswani, adding, “Also, the cake was dark chocolate, the strawberries on it were real and the moon was bright. It was a shining night.”

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