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From Valentine moments to charity art sales, Mumbai wore its heart on its sleeve... and with style.

Audhana Akhtar and Simone Singh at the launch of F&H Club.
Audhana Akhtar and Simone Singh at the launch of F&H Club.

Menka Shivdasani

The flavour of the month never mind the moral brigade was Valentines' Day. The concept has caught on in the most amazing ways; this year, even supermarkets in Mumbai were awash with red and pink heart-shaped cushions in trolleys next to kitchen dusters and juice. Page 3 people, of course, celebrated Valentines' Day in style.

Frazer and Haws used the occasion to initiate its new F&H Club over a `sushi and champagne friendship' evening, hosted by Chandaa Narang, its Chief Director, Asia Pacific, & CEO. The guest list included actor Simone Singh and her director husband Fahad Samar, Mitali Kakkar, Lubna Adams, Nisha Jhamwal, Audhana Akhtar, Elite model Sonalika Sahay with Sushma Puri, CEO Elite Model Management, and Krsna Mehta, Design Director, Zeba, among others.

US Consul General Angus Symons and Ashwini Kakkar, CEO, Thomas Cook, were also present; in fact, among the several prizes on offer was a romantic getaway for two to London courtesy Thomas Cook. The chances are you will find several Page 3 people sporting F&H's new Wrist Post sterling silver sheets engraved with personalised messages on leather cords to be worn on the wrist.

How's that for a new way of writing letters to people you love?

The festivities will continue with the F&H Club's exclusive by-invitation only membership of a select group of wine and cognac lovers. On offer once a month is `MAWL music, art, wine, literature, flamenco dancers from Spain, Sufi kalam from Pakistan or fine wine and cuisine from Chile, for instance.

This is not a new concept. The lounge bar Athena used to host such evenings minus the wine, unless you paid for it but they didn't last too long because the cultural events always took second place to other paid-for evenings, such as the time they hired out the same space for a press conference by a TV channel.

Author and publisher Janet Fine also organises the NGMA COHO Art Walk every month, complete with poetry, dance, music and wine (most often courtesy Sula), and these events are open to all. The Walks, held on the last Saturday of every month, begin at the National Gallery of Modern Art, then move on to various art galleries and restaurants in the vicinity. It's a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Hopefully, the F&H Club will also make an impact in a city where there is never a shortage of cultural events, or people interested in them.

More matters of the heart

Speaking of art and art galleries, Anupam Kher hosted curator Vickram Sethi's art exhibition `Have a Heart', organised by the NGO Deeds at Out of the Blue in Khar. Kher must have been trying to be clever and make people smile when he said he was going to personally borrow some money from his driver to make the first contribution, but certainly he had his heart in the right place. What made this event special was a dance performance by 12 hearing impaired children from Vikas Vidyalaya based on popular film songs, followed by a bhajan rendered by the children.

The idea was to disprove the myth that the hearing impaired cannot dance or sing in rhythm. Deeds plans to build a hostel at Dehradun for at least 100 hearing impaired students. The NGO also plans to set up 40 vocational centres, upgrade teaching methods in schools for the hearing impaired and work with Impact India Foundation to reach out to one million children in Maharashtra.

Travelling haute couture

Meanwhile, there is high excitement over the Blender's Pride Fashion Tour 2005, with 16 shows, six designers and five cities, Mumbai being first on the calendar. The 40-day show, which began on February 18, travels from Mumbai to Kolkata, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad. The tour features Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, Aparna Chandra, Malini Ramani, Rocky S., Tarun Tahiliani and Wendell Rodricks. For Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla this was their first show in five years. The list of models included some pretty high-profile names such as Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan!

Of course, those who attend such shows have to look their best as well, and this month, they have received a little help from Millicent Howe, colour specialist from Prague and stylist for such celebs as Kate Blanchette and Jodie Kidd, who was here at the invitation of Schwarzkopf. She's travelling to eight cities to educate Indian hairdressers, and says the "bold and abrasive" look is in, and paradoxically, so is the feminine look. Go and figure that one out...

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 25, 2005)
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