Social mores

London's landmark Savoy Hotel reopens after a refit that took almost two years and cost �220-million.

Print Edition: December 12, 2010

Royal revival
London's landmark Savoy Hotel reopens after a refit that took almost two years and cost �220-million

The resurrection of a cultural relic must be applauded, especially when the object in question has played a stellar role in shaping cultural history. We're talking about London's Savoy Hotel, located on the only street in the country where vehicles are required to drive on the right. Fresh from a �220 million (Rs 157 crore) revamp that lasted 21 months, the new look includes Art Deco rooms on the Strand side and Edwardian rooms facing the Thames, a Lalique crystal fountain at the entrance and suites that offer views of the river.

Polished sycamore panelling in the River Restaurant and ornate fabric wall coverings in the Upper Thames Foyer grace the interiors. The refurbishing includes the addition of a 325-sq-mt Royal Suite, a night in which costs �9,900 (Rs 7.08 lakh). Established in 1889, the Savoy is the grande dame of London hotels and has hosted legends like Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas who're paid tribute through celebrity suites.

Rest in panache
If buying up property in Singapore means you've arrived, departing from there in a gold casket would seem to be the right way to go! South Asia's only listed bereavement service provider NV Multi Corporation Berhad, runs columbariums (aka fancy vaults to hold urns containing the ashes of the dead) in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan. The ritziest of these is located in Singapore and is fittingly called Nirvana. It caters to more than one lakh clients across South Asia and offers a burial urn crafted from Canadian jade, priced at $60,780 (Rs 27 lakh) and hill top burials priced at $517,012 (Rs 2.29 crore).

My fair lady
There are plenty of ways to remember Audrey Hepburn. It might be as Roman Holiday's Princess Anne who dared to smash the walls of regal protocol, or the glamorous socialite Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's who made the little black dress famous. Or it could be as the humanitarian who started working with the Unicef back in the 1950s and did significant work in Africa, South America and Asia. While the avatar of choice may differ, the fact remains that the British actress who died in 1993 has become an enduring icon of our times. This has driven several auctions of her memorabilia, the most recent of which was the German Charity Auction, wherein a sheet of stamps depicting the actress-printed by the German postal service in 2001-fetched $606,000 (Rs 2.7 crore). The stamps,which were believed to have been destroyed, show the actress with her waifish smile and a long cigarette holder dangling from her lips. In tribute to her humanitarian work, two-thirds of the proceeds will go to educating children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Where no write is wrong
Montblanc offers you the option of ordering a pen matched to your writing style. Clients are required to write on special paper that's placed on a tablet and connected to a computer. A software tracks the angles made by you on the paper as you write, and gives the company insight into your scribbling style. This in turn helps Montblanc craft a gold nib especially for you.

The BT More Playlist
Sounds of autumn

Nerd, nothing
Super production duo Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo shift their focus to funk, and deliver an eccentric but enjoyable album.

Elvis Costello, national ransom
The prolific pop crusader's 11th album in a decade is a delightful mix of myriad styles and lovely tunes.

Ray Davies, see my friends
The Kinks maestro gets a heap of stars to interpret his iconic songs in their own unique way. The result is a complete delight, but the originals still rock.

Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer
Neo-soul legend Cee Lo comes roaring back with an album packed to the gills with horns, pianos and 'that voice'.

Michael Dease, Grace
The young trombonist is shaking up the world of jazz with his technique and tone, and here he showcases both to perfection.

6 things to do this month

Tequila show: If you love tequila, this is something you won't want to miss. An opportunity to pair over 30 brands of tequila with Latin food, music, dance and art. Whether you're a connoisseur or a first-timer, the event will leave you with an invigorating experience of the drink. Get your own shot; be at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on December 3.
Website: www.tequilaandmore.ca

Art Asia: Galleries from Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East participate in this showcase for Asian art. Watch out for exciting exhibitions from different countries as well as discussions and analyses of various forms of art, from photography to paintings. To be held at Art Asia in Midtown Miami from December 1 to 5.
Website: www.artasiafair.com

Cochin carnival: The quiet serenity of Kerala's lush greens and pristine backwaters will be animated by Cochin's carnival from December 23 to January 1. Besides classical Indian music and dance, the event will see a variety of competitions and a grand procession on New Year's Day. With beautifully adorned elephants, vibrantly dressed performers and sporting events like sea-swimming and beach-bike racing, the event is worth looking forward to.
Website: www.karmakerala.com

Goa river marathon: The 21-km run along the river Zuari and the 5-km fun walk run are just what you need to feel energised in Goa's rejuvenating environs. Pull up your socks and get registered before December 10. The event will be held on December 19.
Website: www.goarivermarathon.com

Upper crust show: Attracting the biggest names of the food and beverage industry, the trade fair will see events like grape-crushing, palate art and a chocolate fashion show. Besides interacting with renowned chefs and restaurateurs, you can try the assortments of specialty cuisine, organic foods, cheese, cigars and wine. To be held at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai from December 3 to 5.
Website: www.theuppercrustshow.com

The Exquisite Corpse: Artist Uday Dhar uses a signature mix of collages, oil paints and graphics for his paintings that reinvent Indian culture. Catch a glimpse at Delhi's India Habitat Centre from December 6 to 14.
Website: www.indiahabitat.org

An eye on it
If you think all ferris wheels in India are the manually-operated, rickety ones you've seen in country fairs and Hindi films, it's time to think again. Following the international trend of building giant wheels that provide a bird's eye view of the city's skyline, Delhi now has its very own luxe 'Eye' courtesy iZara Entertainment.This 180-ft-high wheel has 36 airconditioned glass cabins offering a 360-degree view and HD LED lighting, besides a VIP cabin furnished with comfortable couches and LCD screens. That's not all. The wheel also gives you the opportunity to wine and dine at its peak. Set as it is beside the Yamuna, we're not sure that the view is captivating. But there's only one way to find out. Contact iZara Entertainment at +91-8800519568

By the glass
James Nash took his thinking out of the box, only to put it in a glass. His company Le Froglet has come out with single-serve plastic glasses of Shiraz, Rosé and Chardonnay with tear-off lids. Though his 'cup-a-wine' concept was rejected at the entrepreneurs' reality show Dragon's Den, the wine glasses are flying off the shelves in England, leaving retailer Marks & Spencer struggling to keep up with the high demand. And why not? At $5 (Rs222) a piece, you can take them on drives, out shopping and for impromptu picnics.

Tintin for a week
Fantasy isn't about half as intriguing as the real thing. Tintin fans would no doubt agree. Herge's accounts of the precocious young reporter's adventures from all over the world aren't just admired for their adventure and strong political messages, but for acting as a rough guide to unknown lands. If you're crazy about Tintin, and love travelling, an eightday trip through the Kingdom of Jordan will put you straight into the pages of The Red Sea Sharks. From swimming in the Dead Sea and decoding the Rose City of Petra to exploring the medieval Shobak Castle, every passing day promises to bring a new thrill. A camp under the stars in the silent landscape of the Wadi Rum desert and a snorkel in the warm waters of the Red Sea by Aqaba can only add to the excitement. More details on www.onthegotours.com

Sounds like you know about scuba diving
Time to get the blues; to hit the corals for a spot of diving.

1. Although the term 'Scuba' started life as an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, it is now a word in its own right.

2. While many of us are afraid of drowning, it is actually very hard for a body to sink. So much so that most divers wear a belt of weights around their waist to help them sink.

3. Most recreational scuba diving takes place for the purpose of checking out the wonderful world of coral reefs. But diving also has commercial uses, that range from spear fishing to extracting goodies from wrecks.

4. Water conducts heat away from a diver 25-times faster than air, causing hypothermia even in mild temperatures. Which is why wetsuits are designed to cut heat loss.

5. To make sure that their goggles don't fog up underwater, most divers slather on oodles of their spit before rinsing them out with sea water.

6. The immediate ancestor of the current kit and first commercially successful scuba set was the 'Aqualung' open circuit breathing sets that were designed by Frenchmen Emile Gagnan and Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

The lost drink
Ok, so we've heard of Picassos and Florentine diamonds hitting museums of missing history, but here's a strange one. The recent Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival witnessed the loss of the oldest bottle of single malt in the world. Crafted by independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhailin, the 70 YO Mortlach was stolen, along with a 'normal' 25-30 year old Macallan, from a booth at the festival overnight. The thief reportedly took the bottle, but left the box and documentation behind, which will make it difficult to sell to a collector. The bottle was #53 in the series, and that's engraved on the bottle. Its retail price is $6000 (Rs 2.66 lakh).

Hermes on wheels
From Marlon Brando on a Triumph Thunderbird 6T to Batman on his chopper, testosterone on wheels is an enduring image. Adding yet another one is the all-new VMAX, a collaboration between Yamaha and French fashion house Hermès. While Yamaha powers the bike with a 1679cc V4 engine and YCC-T fly-bywire throttle, Hermès has done a great cover-up job in Skipper buffalo leather.

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