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It is a slippery slope

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The holidays are on everybody’s mind, and skiing seems to be getting the vote

“I’m going to Courchevel, but I don’t know how to ski,” exclaimed Ms Divine Diva, when I enquired after her winter vacation plans. She had flown in just for a night for the dinner we were at last Sunday. The evening, in honour of the acclaimed artist couple Idris Khan and Annie Morris, was the first of many fêtes in Mumbai for the duo. Their show opens this week at Galerie Isa’s cavernous brand-new Ballard Estate space. Morris’ colourful Stack sculptures are a joy to behold. But I digress.

Coming back to the December holidays, Divine Diva was explaining how, on an earlier skiing expedition to another stylish European ski town, she was left alone on the slopes with an instructor who was clearly uninterested in her. “How’s that possible, just look at you,” said Mr Suave Starched Collar. “Babe, he was gay!” she replied. “And then there was a small child who was zig-zagging around me as if to prove a point.” “Yes, those Europeans get their kids on the slopes very young,” I commiserated, “but at least you have après ski fashion to look forward to.” “That’s the only saving grace,” she giggled, adding, “There’s a whole Delhi lot that is coming too, and they don’t ski either.”

Two days later, I found myself at a beautiful mehndi in the kind of expansive bungalow one can only dream about. It had taken me more than an hour-and-a-half to reach and I thought to myself, ‘No wonder Shah Rukh Khan never arrives anywhere before 1 am. It is the only way to beat the traffic.’ Filled with the most incredible art — a large Anish Kapoor sculpture had its case removed so that guests could admire it up close — and the most delicious food, the talk turned once again to, what else, skiing. “We’ve been going to Courchevel for more than a decade,” Ms Stylish Ex-Star told me, as she sank into a plush sofa to cool down with the AC. “K2, the hotel we stay at is not very large, and they should love us, since 10 of the rooms are taken by people we know!” Later, as I sipped a glass of Moet and dug into some Thai green curry prepared by a chef specially flown in from Thailand, I realised I knew lots of people who were going away to ski. Many were off to Japan, another popular destination for the slopes.

It is a slippery slope

Wilting under my Indian finery, I thought how wonderful to be in a place papered over with snow. Kashmir, with its wonderful peaks, could have been as grand a ski destination as any, but is off bounds. Gulmarg had seen a surge in skiers before the abrogation of Article 370. But now tourism has plummeted by more than 80%, as locals continue to suffer and are cut off from communications and the Internet.

In between dressing for weddings, I attended a fundraiser for the Chamar Foundation, founded by artist Sudheer Rajbhar, at Ensemble, the well-known designer store run by Tina Tahiliani Parikh. Called ‘The Reclaimed Tote’, the project was curated by my friend Farah Siddiqui and involved 66 designers whose brief was to use only discarded material and scraps from their studios to design totes. All the proceeds went towards helping artisans from the Chamar community. I thought I had arrived early at 4.30 pm (the invite was for 4 pm) but most of the totes were already sold out. Disappointment was writ large over the faces of those who came later. “They’d be perfect for my December beach vacay,” wailed one Social Butterfly, to no one in particular. Clearly everyone is ready for the holidays.

This fortnightly column tracks the indulgent pursuits of the one-percenters.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 8:10:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/it-is-a-slippery-slope/article30298818.ece

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