The one good thing about the Modi Government is that the folks in the Cabinet are rooted. No cabinet ministers have homes in London or for that matter, mistresses either. They don't carry Harrods locker keys which means London is not on their map this summer which also means most of the London based NRIs have nothing much to do. In the good old days when austerity was the mantra, every minister of Manmohan's government was in London in summer ostensibly to change our lives and their own shopping bags but all that has changed. For years, when I was advising the Taj Group of Hotels I used to stay at 51 Buckingham Gate (not for free I may add) but from last year have left the last haven of Little India and moved back to The Dorchester where sadly this year, for the first time, yet again you see hordes of Indians. The China Tang Bar is only a costlier version of the Willingdon Club or for that matter the Delhi Gymkhana depending on whether you're meeting the folks from Bombay or Delhi.
Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai should have been in London. They would have been feted. Because everyone wants to know what is happening with Modi and the new government: as if these two would know more than any one of us does. But that's par for the course. London continues to scintillate with its art. We now have a new philanthropist and author amongst us: Satish K Modi: yes the same gent who owes me miles from the ModiLuft days. He has now started some sort of Foundation for Indian Art which augurs well for other industrialists who are seeking a post-retirement hobby or a business diversion.
Yes I did attend the Christie's event which is always hosted by Credit Suisse, Christie's and Usha Mittal. I have to say the folks at Christie's always manage to pull in a superb crowd so what if it is mostly Indian but then this is clever. In one fell swoop you meet everyone you'd love to avoid without any guilt. In other news, the Au-Dilli pub on Audley continues to do brisk business: from rotund tea planters to corporate honchos, every Indian finds his way to this watering hole only to let the other blokes know that they can still afford London. The restaurants continue to dazzle and these too are full of Indians and Arabs and the way the Indians spend, it is hard to distinguish which is Arab and which is Indian.
On my part I continue to stay away from the herd. Yes, I too have been trapped but have extricated myself with charm and rudeness. The National Portrait Gallery is a must-see this summer as is the British Museum and if you are a theatre lover you cannot miss Kevin Spacey in a solo performance which will be his last as the Creative Director of the Old Vic.
If you need to get out of Mayfair and head for greener and more civilised pastures then go to Petersham Nurseries at Richmond, and while sipping some organic soup, strolling by the Thames, ask yourself when London will become Marine Lines? Or for that matter Lajpat Nagar? In the good old days you'd have the wafting fragrances of Jo Malone from homes in Mayfair and such like. Today, you are greeted by Haldiram's and Mother's Pickles.
The reverse colonisation of Britain is complete. I am only waiting for Chagan Bhujbal to set up a college in Mayfair and for Sharad Pawar to set up a dairy business.