Happy birthday, Rahul and Malini

Rahul and Malini Akerkar... happy birthday tomorrow. TOMORROW, our Malini and Rahul Akerkar celebrate the fourth anniversary of Indigo, that landmark restaurant of downtown Bombay where the food looks and eats handsome. It is also Rahul's birthday, his 44th, though you would be forgiven for thinking he's 35. It must be the excitement of getting the second Indigo ready that is making him look and feel young. This one will be for suburban Bombay, a 2,000 square feet Indigo at Juhu, coconut trees in the yard and an eight-foot drop to the beach. July, August, it should be ready, then we won't be seeing you in Colaba Sunday for brunch.

But tomorrow, yes, it is also little Amalia's birthday, their second daughter is as old as Indigo. The elder girl, Shaan, is nine. And last year the evening of the anniversary party, the Akerkars left the stragglers at Indigo to rush and catch a plane for their summer vacation in Singapore. There's no holiday planned for tomorrow. Instead, in the after hours, the restaurant shuts down and the staff celebrate the occasion with their own little party. They've got about 85 people working with them. And these 85 will be on the job the first part of the day while we celebrate with fine wines, food and jazz. The food and wine you are already familiar with. The music will be Texan and Spanish. We asked Malini what it had been like these last four years, and she replied, "Like being on stage!" Are you ready for tomorrow's show?

90 and full of starch!

Sam Manekshaw... a man of character.

FIELD Marshal Sam Manekshaw must truly be one of God's chosen few. Not because he turned 90 this week and is still full of the starch of the Indian Army. But because George Fernandes, defence minister, maverick politician, and the defence forces' bugbear, has found him favourable for praise. Said Fernandes, who is notorious for being stingy in his appreciation, on the Field Marshal's 90th birthday, "Manekshaw is a man of courage, character, integrity, a man who created history. In fact, he created a nation. He liberated Bangladesh from Pakistan!"

And here we remember the Field Marshal for gently rebuking Indira Gandhi when she was worried he and the Indian Army might stage a coup to topple her!

Getting onto Blair's case

Jemima Khan... in despair over Blair. SHARING half of President George Bush's load for their misadventure in Iraq is British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The latest person to get onto his case is former Pakistan cricketer Imran Khan's Jewish-English wife, the lovely Jemima Khan.

In a scathing article in London's Independent, Jemima accuses Blair of double standards in his attitude towards Muslim and non-Muslim countries. "Why has Blair chosen to overlook, and in some cases propagate, the lies, misinformation, and discredited evidence used by the US to justify this indefensible war," she asks.

While she is using the excellent platform of the Independent to air her strong political views, it would be interesting to see what Jemima has to say about Pakistan and President Pervez Musharraf. Imran's views are known. And neither Pakistan, nor Musharraf, care for them.

Dancing in three weeks

Aishwarya Rai... I could have danced all night! IN Dr. Sanjay Agarwal of the Hinduja Hospital, Aishwarya Rai has got an orthopaedic surgeon who is confident of putting her back on her feet in lesser time than anyone thinks. According to the good doctor, irrespective of the hairline fracture in the small toe of her left foot, the injured left arm and sore waist, Aishwarya will be able to start dancing again after three weeks! We don't know if Khakhi, the movie Aishwarya returns to in Nashik after the accident, requires her to do any dancing. Or if encouraged by Dr. Agarwal's diagnosis, Raj Kumar Santoshi will now include a number. But it is comforting to know that if the dance master requires, Aishwarya will be able to put her best foot forward.

International cooking

Karen Anand... international cooking, this time. ANOTHER big F&B event tomorrow over brunch is Karen Anand's book launch at the ITC Grand Maratha. This one is called Karen Anand's International Cooking and Peter Mukherjea is going to be releasing it. The story goes that Karen started doing the book with Star TV years ago, culling recipes from her Good Food Guide television show. Then Star TV went Hindi. So Karen decided to make the book more a personal journey, though the tie with Star TV remains, that's why Peter does the honour tomorrow.

The book: it has sections like Lebanese, Spain, Italy, Japan, England, but the dishes are topical and simple, easy-to-do-in-India kind of food because everything is available here. How to roll a sushi, how to steam a Christmas pudding, she's revealed sources of ingredients, added tips for microwave cooking. "Obviously, it is a metro book, meant for people who are aspirational, people who travel, because people now have a global view of cooking," Karen says. The book is 144 pages, costs Rs. 375, and the pictures are taken by Sheena Sippy.


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