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Published: Volume 17, Issue 5, May, 2009

As night fell over a dusky Wednesday in April, Olive Mahalaxmi hosted the Verve Salon, an evening of conversation and debate about ideas. Our guest for the evening was Meera Sanyal, head of ABN-Amro and independent political candidate for the South Mumbai constituency in the general elections. The cosy shamiana setting, with guests curled up on cushy chairs and low settees, undercut the seriousness of the dialogue and the earnestness with which people of varied interests and preoccupations came together to talk about the political future of India and citizen involvement. As students and artistes met and mingled, Praveena Mecklai pow-wowed with Sangita Kathiwada and Kavita Daiya conversed with David DíSouza, a poised and confident Sanyal herself took centrestage. As a prospective Member of Parliament, her part in the conversation focussed on the urgent need to make executive improvements in the way Mumbai functions, ranging from infrastructure to legislation. Questions that came up showed a concern and passion for the city and for India, through which a rather eclectic group of people found fertile and encouraging common ground.

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