While he's been making discreet appearances at private engagements and company boardrooms in-between his increasingly frequent rips abroad, in purely relative terms Vijay Mallya seems to have fallen right off the social map. He's always been a fighter but thankfully he's finally understood that discretion is often the better part of valour - and even if it hasn't brought about a substantially drastic change in his unapologetically lavish lifestyle, at least he's no longer flaunting it in front of the cameras. The past several months since Kingfisher failed have been especially difficult for Mallya, and he almost seems to be filling the void with a near obsession with the progress of Force India.
Several of his former pursuits have taken a backseat as he single-mindedly invests his energies in furthering the fortunes of India's only F-1 team, chasing it to every venue it tours. The slow but steady rise up the ranks for the fledgling team is clearly boosting more than the morale of just his employees. While it's likely that the liqour baron - who turns 58 on December 18 - will opt for a subdued celebration again this year with close friends at his Napean Sea Road bungalow, his real birthday cheer seems to be coming from the return of Nico Hülkenberg to the team.
"Welcome home," he beamed as he patted the back of 26-year-old German race driver whose presence has helped infused "high hopes and expectations for 2014".
Never a bad idea to have something substantially positive to look forward to.