Nisha's Mumbai: Nisha JamVwal Writes About Her Whirlwind Week

Nisha's Mumbai: Nisha JamVwal Writes About Her Whirlwind Week

From Derby and wedding in Mumbai, to trips to Odisha and Jammu, it was an interesting time for her

Nisha JamVwalUpdated: Saturday, February 10, 2024, 08:17 PM IST
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The Odisha connect

Sometimes you just have an inexplicable karmic connection with a city and it keeps calling to you repeatedly, like it’s a human being with a life imbued into it. That, for me, is Odisha. With its crying need for exposure to its exquisite crafts, warm hospitable people, and rural folk who can do with skilling, guidance and nurture, it’s an ideal place for me to put some time and energy. A decade ago I came on board Harsha Trust, an NGO doing monumental work in education, skilling, upgrading rural irrigation, agriculture, and animal husbandry with new technology and training of the rural folk. I’m in awe of the exemplary work they have been doing and I pitch in with whatever resources I can. 

Nisha JamVwal (in black) with Vishal Kamat (L), Dr Nandita Palshetkar and Vitthal Kamat (R)

Nisha JamVwal (in black) with Vishal Kamat (L), Dr Nandita Palshetkar and Vitthal Kamat (R) |

This week I had the privilege of meeting Preeti Patnaik, a dynamic, focused, and determined entrepreneur from Odisha, who wishes to empower many ambitious women entrepreneurs. She exhibits their talent under the aegis of Indian Women to Consumers (INWEC) all over India. I flew to Odisha to be inducted onto her board as an advisor; what turned out to be an adventure. A 10-hour delayed flight, for most, might have been a nightmare, but I met dynamic gynaecologist Dr Nandita Palshetkar and pioneer hoteliers Vithal and Vishal Kamat at the airport and what ensued was a laugh riot at the airport lounge and on the flight.

The INWEC conference was, as expected, a power-packed day of pledges and felicitations where I was formally inducted into the advisory committee. The dinner preceding the convocation ceremony at Preeti Patnaik’s lovely home, was a celebration of world cuisine from glazed chicken to khow suey. The warmth and camaraderie of a relatively smaller city is pronounced and I felt a tug at my heart when it was time to leave.

Banquet and Derby

Mumbai was like a pit stop between Odisha and Jammu. Another riotous flight introduced me to the adventures, marvels, and wonders of actors Gayatri Bharadwaj and Prem Parija. They took me on a visual adventure of the television and movie business as they related their projects, triumphs and challenges in the movie industry. 

Mumbai was a two-day ‘stopover’ and it lived up to its reputation of a city that never sleeps. One night was a raucous wedding reception at the new destination for all big fat Indian weddings – the Jio World Convention Centre. The new norm for all weddings is a rock concern like Indie pop or Bollywood or international singer belting out the latest music in a hall peppered with sumptuous grazing tables that consisted of exotic cheeses and salads accompanied by an entire hall dedicated to a lavish banquet.

The next day was the much-awaited and super-exciting Derby at the Mahalakshmi Race Course. The magnificent horses competitively galloped while fashionable Mumbaiites in hats and gowns, shouted cheered and jumped higher to catch a glimpse of which horse had won. Riyhad Kundanmal, a polo stalwart, and Shiven Surendranath, my childhood friend and racing regular, guided me on the subtle nuances of horse racing. Competing with the breath-taking horses were the fillies, aka the pretty ladies in lovely hats and fascinators, who gambolled around the evanescent afternoon tea buffet laid out at the racing grounds, sipping at cocktails, and taking selfies against the backdrop. 

Jammu calling

No sooner had the races ended that I had to dash off to Jammu, a city waiting to explode into the national scene with its tourism, business and ‘make-in-India’ agendas after the abrogation of Article 370 — to become one of India’s new destinations to watch out for. Jammu is a quaint mix of ancient temples, modern infrastructure, small-town fashion, eateries, hotels and staggering history. 

I firmly believe that India is not its big cities alone — it is genuinely the quaint two and three-tier cities and villages that give India its magic. I discovered many gems of Jammu with my friend Sheeba Khan who popped across to spend the day and enjoy some local cuisine and colour with me. We visited Pir Mitha a serene Darga, Mubarak Mandi the old quarter of Jammu, Hari Bazar and Raghunath Bazar that could give the souks of the Middle East a run for their money. For those uninitiated, I am from Jammu and that’s where I get my name — Jamwal aka Jammu-wala. 

After this whirlwind week, I’m back in the magic bay. For more about my impending trip to Coonoor and its highlights watch this space.

(Write to Nisha at nishjamwal@gmail.com)

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