What an amazing city London is. Not only a world capital, a fashion capital, an art and architectural capital, but can it now claim to to be the most tolerant and integrated capital city?
Former investment banker turned psychiatrist, Lucy Beresford will be at Asia House on 6th October (evening) discussing her book, Invisible Threads a fictional book drawing on the author’s experiences in India.
Manish Malhotra, AICW 2015. Photography: FDCI
With this collection, Manish Malhotra celebrated 10 years of his couture house and 25 years as a costume designer for the Indian film industry. His Bollywood fan club was out in full support on the night, generations of stars and super stars sitting in front row, the paparazzi going wild.
Manish Malhotra, AICW 2015. Photography: FDCI
As if these two fantastic milestones weren’t enough to celebrate, demonstrating that good things come in three’s, Manish Malhotra announced that two new flagship boutiques would open in 2016, one in London and the other in Dubai. Both world class shopping
Earlier this week, Bunty and I had the pleasure of going along to a wonderful and lively discussion at Asia House about stereotypes in Asian literature.
The panel was formed of leading figures in the creative arts: Yasmeen Khan (writer and broadcaster and shoe-horned to unofficial BBC Representative for the evening!), Daniel York (actor, director and writer), Anna Chen (first British Chinese comic to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Niven Govinden (author) and Bidisha (author, journalist, broadcaster and Booker Prize Foundation trustee) who was the delightful chair for the evening’s enthralling discussion.
Ok, so I am a veggie but I don’t like vegetarian restaurants, certainly not vegan ones. Lettuce munchers, allergic to good taste. It’s just something about the atmosphere in them that turns me off. A room full of veggies, a crazy night does not make.
God, I love living in London.
Where else can you eat lunch in a crypt made by Sir Christopher Wren? Cafe Below is an exquisite cafe under St Mary-Le-Bow Church on Cheapside. A hop and a skip away from Bank tube station.
One thing I have in common with my 2 year old nephew is a need to be constantly entertained. One thing I should learn from him is that I can do this by myself.
London is awash with free and cheap “things to do” and I am guilty of losing sight of this.
It feels special when you see a living legend in real life.
I was front row for a Michael Jackson concert, went to two Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan concerts, saw Mo Farah win gold in London and I have even chatted to Pele.
Last night I saw Carlos Acosta at the Royal Opera House and was blown away. Cubania is his show, he curates and dances in it. Modern ballet and dance set to some live Cuban music.
Maqbool Fida Husain, known as M.F. Husain (1915-2011), was one of India’s most eminent and prolific artists. Often described as India’s Picasso, MF Husain is one of my favourite Indian artists. He is one of a group of Indian artists known as the Great Masters and they are indeed great, possessing a quality and perspective yet unmatched by generations of painters since.
From L-R: Saurabh Kakkar, Shazia Mirza, Anil Gupta, Sathnam Sanghera at Asia House
It’s the second time British Asian humour has been the subject of debate and discussion as part of Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival and this year’s event was wonderful. Everyone in attendance was mostly in good spirits (some wine helped of course!), eager to hear and participate in the discussion. Despite the lightness of the topic, Bunty and I left feeling we had learnt new things and subjects to ponder. The evening event focused on British Asian humour, its development as mark of cultural identity and how it has evolved since Goodness Gracious Me.
Asia House invited Anil Gupta, Saurabh Kakkar (both writers and producers) and Shazia Mirza the stand up comedian. Anil Gupta is well known for the revolutionary and groundbreaking series Goodness Gracious Me, The Office and The Kumars at No 42. The evening started with a few
Kamila Shamsie at Asia House
Last week Bunty and I spent the evening at Asia House for the continuing literature festival sponsored by the Bagri Foundation. The festival is on until 21st May and there are still many wonderful events to attend! www.asiahouse.org and follow on twitter @asiahouseuk @festofasianlit
Multi award winning writer, Kamila Shamsie was the star of the evening and new writer, Omar Shahid Hamid was introduced and interviewed in Extra Words, a new segment created by Asia House to focus on new talent at the festival.
Author Brigid Keenan is a charming, witty writer who knows exactly how to recall a lifetime of wonderful and disastrous events as the trailing wife of a diplomat. I read her book Diplomatic Baggage after meeting Brigid at a dinner party one evening in London. We created instant warmth as we exchanged stories of India.
Packing Up – Further Adventures of A Trailing Spouse is Brigid Keenan’s latest book about her life in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Palestine.
Hanif Kureishi with Razia Iqbal Photography by Nick Cunard http://www.nickcunard.co.uk
A superstar author never shy of sharing his opinion, Hanif Kureishi opened the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival with an evening full of laughter and delight. The writer was interviewed by BBC special correspondent Razia Iqbal who effortlessly kept her own presence on stage and steered the discussion that gave interesting insights into the way Hanif writes, his life and opinions.
Ever since Downton Abbey, we have all been lining up to party like the roaring 20s. The Great Gatsby encouraged us even more. So slender, so sexy, so love your fringe, darling.
The Candlelight Club is ace, organised at various venues announced late on and set in the 20s, it is a fabulous night out. I went to the New Orleans Mardi Gras night (phew, what a mouthful). I wore a beautiful long emerald green dress with a gold belt and slits up the front. My hair was a chic up do in a bob and I had a gorgeous clip to hold it in place. I felt so glamorous and as I walked into the club a lovely guy told me I looked amazing! (ok, he was probably one of the evening’s character actors but hey, I’m still going to appreciate it).
The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival is back in May and what a programme they have in store! The Chatterjis Blog will cover the event as official bloggers for the festival which includes writers from over 17 different Asian countries. In addition to a regular festival format a new series, Extra Words will introduce debut authors from Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand.
The festival officially opens on 6th May with high profile writer, Hanif Kureishi who will talk about his new book The Last Word. There are a few pre-festival events in April that sound fabulous too. On 10th April there is an event called Separations discussing what happens when a country suffers from political divisions. Featuring Korean writers Kyung-sook Shin (2011 Man Asia Prize winner) and Krys Lee and Pakistani writer Qaisra Shahraz whose work focuses on women and partition it should be a lively evening. Why Do Indians Vote? Democracy in India is another pre-festival
Every now and then I come across a gem of a find and this time it is Red Velvet, a play by Lolita Chakrabarti and starring her handsome husband, Adrian Lester!
It is Chinese New Year on 31 January 2014 and this year it is the year of the wood or green horse. I have personal interest in this as I am a horse in the Chinese horoscope, much to the amusement of my sister who claims to be a much cooler dragon. I counteract her claim of superior coolness with the fact that dragons don’t exist and at least neither of us are rats!
Because you can get lovely veggie food everywhere it is easy to forget how different it is to actually go to an exclusively veggie restaurant/cafe.
If you find yourself around Holborn, you must skip along to Orchard on Sicilian Avenue. The Ave is cute enough but a fab lunch time stop is offered by Orchard. They don’t take bookings
Madonna, Kylie, Pink Floyd, New Kids, Daft Punk, Metallica, Asha Bhosle and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan are all happily lying in my ipod’s music library albeit in different playlists! Who is is this last chap, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan aka RFAK aka The Voice From Heaven?
Swan Lake… I loved it as a child and I’ve seen it so many times I lost count. It’s my macaroni of entertainment…comforting pleasure. I even saw Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall and Princess Di was there a few boxes away. (Yes, I’m kinda old and yes she was stunning and yes so were her bodyguards!). This coming week a new darker street dance version of Swan Lake is in town
It’s sunny in London and that means the evenings really do begin at 5!
If you are catching a play south of the river, heading to the BFI or find yourself generally milling around Waterloo then please may I recommend this slightly pricey but fabulous restaurant: the Waterloo Bar & Kitchen, it’s next to the Old Vic and is divine.
“Oh god” my friend gasped “what a tacky poster for a classic play, you can see his nipples for God’s sake”. He was referring to Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams currently showing at the Old Vic.
The poster that so disgusted my well-heeled friend was of Kim Cattrall all glammed up in a 1950s feverish pose over a lovely naked man half her age.
I went to see the play this week with three girlfriends and all of us, yes ALL of us, couldn’t think of a better combination of seeing our favourite SATC gal and Ripped Torso Man getting it on in our favourite theatre.
Freedom is the theme of this year’s Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, the seventh annual event. From 7-22nd May, some of Asia’s greatest literary exports will join some of the best British Asian writers and thinkers to discuss freedom in all its forms: freedom of expression, education, travel, justice, freedom to read the truth and to live in our chosen ways.
Taking place in a few venues in Central London the programme and events for adults and children is varied and wonderfully diverse. Want to know how to get your work published in Asia or the UK? Want to see a curry demonstration from Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar?
The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature got off to a roaring start by hosting an audience with the wonderfully charming Michael Palin at the Commonwealth Club, London.
Palin was launching a new book, The Truth, excitingly his first foray into fiction. The audience, however, were keen to grill him about his travels. He handled everyone’s question with the same wit and eloquence that we are used to seeing on screen, even though surely he must have been asked some of these questions thousands of times. Palin had us all captivated
Top by new ethical fashion brand, sketch london.
Left-leaning newspapers have been running a series of articles ever since the Bangladesh garment factory collapsed. The death toll has now sadly passed 500, mostly women, but why are consumers and fashion brands being made to bear the majority of the guilty burden? That fingers have been pointed at some brands was inevitable and fashion is regularly targeted for being a poison of the world: the very sick and visible face of capitalism and greed. In Bangladesh and India the tragedy is being reported as a corrupt failure of building regulations not a story about Evil Fashion Brands.
The usual suspects of British ethical fashion have been carted out with the usual snippets of condemnation and hissing at the likes of Primark, GAP and so on. Will consumers care they ask? Can they afford to I ask? This could be a long article so please get a cuppa or a glass of wine. I promise you will learn a thing or two.
I feel bad recommending a play that’s coming to the end of its season but there is still a chance to get a ticket to The Winslow Boy by Terence Rattigan at The Old Vic, London. Believe the hype and Daily Telegraph reviews, it is so much fun to watch.