As Bal Thackeray turns 83 on Saturday (January 23), I cannot help recalling the politics of birthdays that I have witnessed over the years.

The first political birthday party that I ever attended was that of S B Chavan (father of Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Ashok Chavan), sometime in the late Eighties. Read more

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Mandy was my best friend in Paris. We ate together, shopped together, travelled together. We went on assignments to the same European country at the same time so that we could later team up and paint the town red together. And I defended her fiercely against misplaced racist attacks from some stuck-up Brits on our multi-racial course in mid-career journalism in Paris in the early Nineties. Read more

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Ram Gopal Verma’s Sarkar and Sarkar Raj are broadly thought to be based on the life of Bal Thackeray. In large portions, the theme might be taken from episodes from the Sena tiger’s life but the intelligence and dexterity of managing politics that has characterised Amitabh Bachchan’s portrayal of Sarkar in the two films have never been Bal Thackeray’s forte. Read more

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After deliberating a lot about whether I should spend my vacation travelling round Rajasthan or Karnataka (my friends have gone to Cambodia and Jordan, among other places), I decided I would head home to Mother and stay put with her after a busy year that did not allow me to drop anchor in Nagpur for too long, through two elections (Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly) this year. Read more

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