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The Windfall

Humankind is so clever and accomplished - until it’s time to distinguish between wealth and contentment. This momentous distinction is comedically tackled in “The Windfall” a debut novel set in the status-obsessed wealth colonies of India. Sat Bal

 

There’s even an official name for the kind of psychological turmoil that overnight wealth of this sort brings: Sudden Wealth Syndrome. “The Windfall” mirrors this turn in fortunes for middling entrepreneur Anil Jha whose SWS moment comes when he manages to sell his website for $20 million.  

While this sum doesn’t quite put Jha in the 1% of India’s Bollygarchs, it’s enough to catapult his family from a respectable housing complex to the luxurious Delhi suburb of Gurgaon where status is all.

Author Diksha Basu tells a jaunty, witty story that bristles with the psychopathologies of handling both new and established wealth. In doing so she artfully weaves a cast that vacillates between the former and future lives of the Jha family.

Their future features Mr Chopra, a beefy burgher of Gurgaon and the scion of inherited money. In other words, he knows his way around wealth and is accustomed to the lifestyle it affords. The Jhas are not. Yet Chopra’s dynastic wealth does little to calm his psyche. We’re told that he’s not afraid of much “but the thing that frightened him most was poverty.”

His status fears are heightened when his neighbours sell their house to the Jhas in order to upgrade to London’s Kensington, prompting Mrs Chopra’s insecurities. “What if everyone else in Delhi becomes rich and the people who are poor now move in next door and suddenly we are one of the poor. What then?”

One imagines the same anxieties being played out in Shanghai, Brasilia and other new money hot spots around the globe. The realisation that happiness is not automatically on the fixtures and fittings list of a luxurious house is a sobering thought for anyone who expects contentment to flow as an emotional corollary of wealth. As Charles Spurgeon put it: “It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

The constant catch-up attempts of the Jhas set the tragicomic scenes ahead as new wealth conflates with old times. Witness the embarrassment felt by Mr Jha when his new Mercedes, which arrived early, was delivered to his old home where it was “nearly impossible to navigate past the cows in the narrow lanes.” Jha’s shame is palpable: the delivery driver seeing his old abode and the neighbours seeing his new luxury car.  

Mrs Jha has parallel issues when her husband decides that they can’t employ a kitchen maid lest guests fail to notice that they have a new automatic dishwasher in the kitchen. The husband even sees trophy value in the aspiration that their son, Rupak, will have a blonde American girlfriend in the US, where he’s studying for an MBA.

Yet the fact that Rupak’s girlfriend, Elizabeth, is indeed a US blonde causes the boy untold grief. The non-disclosure of Elizabeth to his parents, whose objection he anticipates, sets the scene for endless conflict. Rupak is decidedly the weakest character in the book and Elizabeth makes this point with the warning: “Figure out who you are and just be that person,” as the relationship teeters.

The author brings an engaging set of characters to the fray. There’s the widowed romantic, Mrs Ray, who assures herself that lust is a curiosity rather than a reality. Mr Chopra’s son Johnny likes Lexus cars and girls but seems unable to earn a living - a fact welcomed by his dad whose money shields the boy from the unsavoury pursuit of working. And then there’s Serena - Elizabeth’s Indian counterpart. Predictably, Rupak’s affections for Serena just induce more hand-wringing and their druggy encounters stay right there.

Yet despite the promising cast, credible scene-setting and Diksha Basu’s nimble storytelling the novel ends at a plateau rather than the expected crescendo. That said, this debut novel puts Basu on the literary watch list - and the summer reading list.

 

The Windfall

£7.99 Paperback/Ebook

Publisher: Bloomsbury

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Rolling Stones and Universal Shake On It

LOS ANGELES: The decade-old union between The Rolling Stones and Universal Music Group (UMG), has moved closer with the announcement of a global deal that encompasses the band’s recorded music and audio-visual catalogues. Abigail Parkin  abigail@redcarpetmagazine.co.uk

 

UMG will also be providing archival support, global merchandising and brand management.

The status of both parties as global players has been well-established over the years: The Rolling Stones’ huge  impact on pop culture finely tunes with UMG’s expertise and resources.

Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman & CEO of UMG said, “After a decade of working in partnership together, we are thrilled to expand and extend our relationship with The Rolling Stones.  We look forward to bringing our expertise and passion to bear as we put our global organization to work on behalf of this iconic band who continue to create music and influence culture around the world.”

David Joseph, chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK, added: “The Rolling Stones continue to define rock and roll, they are loved the world over and they are the band who never let up. It’s a privilege to work with them and Joyce Smyth, their exceptional manager.”

Joyce Smyth, The Rolling Stones manager said, “For many years now we’ve had a wonderful partnership with Universal Music and look forward to an even more successful future together.’’

UMG will continue to distribute the band’s celebrated recorded music catalogue globally with future projects and reissues to be released through UMG’s labels and networks around the world.

Bravado, UMG’s brand-management and merchandise arm leads the global provider of consumer, lifestyle and branding services to recording artists and will handle global merchandising rights, retail licensing, brand management and e-commerce on behalf of the band, including their iconic tongue logo, one of the most universally recognized symbols in entertainment.

Bravado’s radar will also identify innovative opportunities for creative collaboration within the worlds of art, fashion, retail, sport, lifestyle and touring merchandise to excite and inspire their millions of fans around the world. 

Recent programs and collections include partnerships with Paris Saint Germain FC, Selfridges, Colette and Zara and newly designed merchandise for their No Filter European Tour.

Eagle Rock, the UMG-owned leading producer and distributor of music programming for broadcast, DVD, Blu-Ray, TV and Digital Media, has expanded its global distribution rights to the band’s extensive long-form audio visual catalogue.

The agreement will see Eagle Rock re-issuing several classic concert films from their archives including: Atlanta (1989); Steel Wheels (1989-90); Voodoo Lounge (1994); Bridges to Babylon (1997-1998); Four Flicks (2002) and Bigger Bang (2005-2006).

Picture credit: Dave Hogan

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Isle of MTV Malta

MALTA: Isle of MTV ended a hot June with British DJ Sigala, Paloma Faith and Ella Eyre hitting the stage in in Il-Fosos Square. Lucy Reid  lucy@redcarpetmagazine.co.uk 

 

The performer roster at the 12th Isle of MTV Malta saw Jason Derulo, Hailee Steinfeld (below) join DJ duo Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike stir the crowds massed in Floriana, Malta.

 

  

 

DJ Sigala managed a double surprise, ushering special guest Fuse ODG to the stage to perform their floor-filler Feels Like Home - and then welcoming Paloma Faith (below) to the stage for Lullaby, in a glamorous blue sequinned dress.

 

 

Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar-nominated actress-turned-pop star ran her hits and choreographed dance moves to a primed audience and Jason Derulo (below) ran riot with dancers galore, full live band and stunning visual effects,as hits Wiggle and Whatcha Say rent the Maltese air.

 

Cue confetti clouds and lasers as Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike took to the decks, spinning hits including new single When I Grow Up featuring Wiz Khalifa and All I Need with the night closing on Liberte

 

Catch our previous IOM Malta trips:

IOM 2017:

 

IOM 2016:

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Bombardier Jet Reveal

GENEVA: Bombardier has revealed its Global 5500 and Global 6500 jets, the newest in its Global business jets range.

Bombardier’s reveal took place at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva and presented a positive portrayal of the Canadian company which was dogged by bankruptcy issues only three years ago.

The planes are powered by new Rolls-Royce Pearl engines and come with a new wing design and cabin interior. The Global 5500 has a range of almost 6,000 nautical miles making flights from Sao Paolo to Paris a breeze while the 6500 has a range of 6,600 miles.  The flight range of the new planes will be a challenge to rival Gulfstream which currently holds the distance trophy for long range  business jets.

A 13 percent increase in fuel efficiency helps the environment and  operational efficiency.  

Inside the 5500 and 6500, Bombardier’s Nuage (French for ‘cloud’) seats will cosset passengers.

The jets are expected to take to the skies by the end of 2019.

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Indian Developer’s No. 1 with 5 Strand Purchase

 

LONDON: ABIL Group is the new owner of 5 Strand in London in a first for the Indian property developer. Lucy Reid     lucy@redcarpetmagazine.co.uk

 

Savills acted for ABIL in its purchase of the mixed use office and retail building from BlackRock UK Property Fund in deal that exceeded £90 million according to Savills.

The 72,359 sq ft building is let to Westminster City Council and Boot and features design plans by Adjaye Associates for a 200-room hotel scheme and planning consent for a new 152,400 sq ft development. This encompasses office accommodation and retail space and luxury residential accommodation.

Barry Mangan, director in the central London investment team at Savills, said: “Located adjacent to Trafalgar Square, close to Charing Cross station, 5 Strand presents an attractive redevelopment opportunity to maximise the building’s strong position in prime central London. As such it makes a good investment for our client, in their first UK purchase.”

Gary Witham, director in the hotels team at a Savills, said: “As the first purchase for our client, 5 Strand makes an excellent choice providing the opportunity to create a leading purpose built hotel in a tourist location that is recognisable to a global audience.”

Savills points at £1.06 billion in London hotel investment last year which it says represents an increase of 17.7% on 2016 while institutional capital investment into hotels grew 6.8% to £370.7 million in 2017, the highest level of investment from this buyer type for over 10 years, according to the firm.

ABIL Group’s headquarters are in the Indian city of Pune and the business was founded by Avinash Bhosale in 1979. ABIL’s luxury  developments encompass the St. Regis Mumbai, W Goa, Westin Pune and Le Meridian Nagpur all under the Marriott brand across India.  

Cushman & Wakefield joined Tudor Toone to advise BlackRock on the sale.

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Cannes Premiere- Solo: A Star Wars Story

CANNES: Solo: A Star Wars Story is the first film in the series to screen at the Cannes Film Festival since Revenge of the Sith over a decade ago. Chris Page

Disney ensured that it all went with a bang thanks to a sustained fireworks display that illuminated Cannes’ watery horizon. 

Stormtroopers were notably exempt from the strict Cannes premiere dress code but notably present on the steps of the Grand Theatre Lumiere awaiting director Ron Howard and the cast who arrived for Tuesday’s screening.

The Stormtrooper presence reasserted itself later when festival director Thierry Fremaux took to the stage and introduced the film to the audience. The end of the film was met with audience applause that was deemed ‘polite’ but there was a standing ovation for Ron Howard and star Alden Ehrenreich. The general feeling among film insiders was that the encomium was far more enthusiastic at the film’s Los Angeles premiere last week. Probably just as well that Solo’s status is “out of competition” in Cannes, thereby excluding it from any awards.

 

 Jennifer Connelly and Stormtroopers in coordinated wardrobe for the party at the Carlton Beach 

 

Solo wasn’t blessed with the smoothest of starts as Ron Howard acknowledged at kast week’s press call in LA. "I did come into [it] late," he said "It was a lot of work that [original directors] Phil [Lord] and Chris [Miller] had done. And unfortunately, with creative differences, there was this circumstance where they were not going to carry on.

In Cannes though it was business as usual with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and her Walt Disney film counterpart Alan Horn in town for the occasion along with cast members including Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton.

 

 

The film, released next week in the UK, portrays the infancy of space pirate Han Solo who later teams up with famed giant ape Chewbacca. It depicts Solo’s noble rise to handler of the Millennium Falcon, the craft originally piloted by Harrison Ford’s character.

After the screening, it was off up the Croisette to the Carlton Beach that had been transformed into an afterparty film set replete with the film’s most recognisable characters and, yes, more Stormtroopers. The party was a return to form for Cannes as champagne fizzed amid conspicuous sushi consumption.

 

Imagery courtesy of Getty/Lucasfilm Ltd

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Taylor Swift Raises Arizona

ARIZONA:  Taylor Swift lived up to her 10-time Grammy-winning reputation with a sell-out start to her reputation Stadium Tour.

 

The songwriter, musician and producer kicked off the tour in Glendale, Arizona on Tuesday night. With special guests Camila Cabello and Charli XCX she played to a capacity crowd of 59,157 fans at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Taylor Swift reputation Stadium Tour will play 53 shows encompassing 36 cities spanning seven countries and four continents in seven months in 2018.

Production values were predictably high as last night's opener saw Taylor Swift perform over two hours across three separate stages in the stadium giving ample room for her to switch between electric guitar, piano and acoustic guitar. The main stage ran to a height of 110 feet tall featuring a 172’ x 40-foot video wall that curves and continues into the floor. 

The 24-song set featured several songs from the record-breaking reputation album, including, new takes on many other fan favorites from previous albums. 

The show comes to the UK and Ireland in June. General ticketing and on-sale information is currently available at TaylorSwift.com.

 

The tour is produced and promoted by Live Nation and S.J.M. Concerts in the UK, MCD in Ireland, and the Messina Touring Group (MTG) and AEG Presents in North America.

See the video clip from the opening night:

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Cheetah Uncaged In New York

NEW YORK: One of the world’s rarest racing cars is set to be auctioned off in New York. Lucy Reid

Guernsey’s Auction House will be presenting the Cheetah at the auction block on May 10th. The General Motors racing car, of which only 23 were produced, will ensure that the winning bidder ends up owning the rarest of animals.   

And it’s not just a pretty face: the Cheetah set the record of 215 miles per hour at Daytona in 1964 and challenged the domain of Ferrari and Ford’s Cobra. Performance aside.

Guernsey’s Auction House will be selling the Cheetah at unreserved auction with the boast that the car has only had a single owner since 1965. That one careful owner is an undisclosed Ohio gentleman approaching his 80th birthday. Built in 1963 his car was one of the first Cheetahs ever made, its fuel-injected Chevrolet Corvette engine clocking that 215 mph record.

It’s all in a day’s work for Guernsey's Auction House whose 40-year span claims representation for the largest auction in history - the ocean liner S.S. United States. Associated names and events conducted include those of John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. 

On May 4-5 Guernsey’s prepares the Cheetah for display at Lime Rock, the renowned race course in Connecticut. It will then be delivered to 93rd Street and Park Avenue in New York City for viewing May 10th from 10am until the 6pm auction. 

 

See more at: www.guernseys.com  

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Middle Housewarming, Shanghai

SHANGHAI: The House Collective opens the newest House in the group with an opening offer for guests.

The Middle House opens in April and brings Shanghai to its collection. Here's a visual invite of what to expect.

 

House lobby

 

The Middle House stands in the heart of Shanghai and offers 111 guest rooms and 102 serviced apartments known as The Middle House Residences.

 

Chinese cuisine at Sui Tang Shang

 

Architect Piero Lissoni brings an Italian flourish to the hotel and residences in a blend of intimate luxury and urban sophistication. 

 

Studio 70 bathroom

 

The Middle House is the sixth hotel in Asia from Swire Hotels and the fourth House under Swire Hotels’ award-winning The House Collective.

 

Opening offer

 Between 16 April and 30 June stay at the newest House in the group from RMB 2,500 opening offer which includes stay in a Studio 60 and complimentary breakfast at Cafe Gray Deluxe.

 

Full terms and conditions on the website:

 https://www.themiddlehousehotel.com/en/offers-and-gifts/opening-offer/

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Hola, Cancun! Part 2: Secrets Maroma Beach

MEXICO: After a week of Hard Rock hotel hedonism the Secrets Maroma Beach resort offered a luxurious and private escape just 45 minutes away in Riviera Cancun. Sat Bal

 

Theme

Much more compact than the sprawling Hard Rock complex the award-winning Maroma Beach is an adults-only enclave of refinement. Its powdery beach is private and well-serviced by staff who cheerily ferry along trays of Mudslides and Mimosas along with food favourites. Just as well since the February sun nudged 30 degrees!

The beach provision falls under the all-inclusive service. Where things do cost, such as spa treatments, complimentary resort credits will offer discounts.

 

Rooms

Presidential suite balcony view  (Pic- Sat Bal) 

 

Rooms start from the Junior Suites (circa $230 pp, pn) and progress to the Preferred Club suites (circa $270 pp,pn) stepping up to the Preferred Club Honeymoon Suite (around $440 pp,pn). They variously feature ocean views or swim , on the ground-floor suites, which allow you to fling open the doors and step inside the cut-down pool adjoined to suite.

 

Presidential dining space (Pic- Sat Bal)

 

The Presidential Suite comes in at a spacious 1,873 sq ft cost around $1,100 pp,pn. For this you get a separate living area with a large sofa and TV and a dining area that accommodates eight. The spacious bedroom also includes a break-out lounge area and a king bed. The views are magnificent, offering a panoramic view of sand and sea.

All rooms are well-appointed with hydro spa tubs, a private balcony/terrace with hammocks and complimentary wi-fi throughout.

 

Out and About

As expected, water-bound activities abound: kayaks, sailing, scuba diving and plenty more. Golfers get complimentary greens fees at the Grand Coral Riviera Maya which skirts the Caribbean Sea. The 18-hole, 7,000-plus yards course was designed by PGA champion Nick Price.

Archery, dance lessons and an outdoor theatre featuring live shows gives a small idea of the big variety at Secrets.

 

Beaches & Pools

The private beach at Secrets is powdery and expansive at least in length (rather than width) at this time of year. Not that losing the sand to the tide led to loss of privacy; there was still plenty to go around. If the beach is your priority then we’d suggest spending more time at Secrets Maroma Beach than HRH.

 

Restaurants & Bars

 

An array of restaurants includes French dining at Bordeaux, Asian cuisine at Himitsu and Italian at Portofino. All are lavishly presented and exude their unique cultural themes in decor and dishes. Additional venues include sea food and munches at the 24-hour cafe. Informal grab-and-go food comes courtesy of the Barefoot Grill.

Bars are omnipresent with top-shelf, all-inclusive drinks. Try the plush lobby Rendezvous bar for a bubbly start to the day and swim up to Bar Manatees in the afternoon sun for cocktails and shorts.  Elsewhere, the on-site Desires music lounge club keeps up the tempo until 1am.

 

Cautionary note…

Secrets rather let down its image with a surge of salesmen intent on selling customers long-term, six-figure packages to the Secrets global network of destinations. We spoke to holidaymakers who were holed up with the high-pressure sales team for over three hours for meetings that were supposed to last an hour.

Although a ‘romantic meal on the beach’ for two was granted for those who stayed the course, such blatant and sustained money-grabbing is not something we’ve ever experienced in other luxury resorts.  Management: rein it in!

A blot on the otherwise flawless service and staff energy that made the place special.  

 

 Check out our review week at Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun:

 

 

 

 

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