The Aesthete: Tarang Arora talks more personal taste

Gemologist Tarang Arora concludes his list of likes with his open-topped Jeep, the English ritual of going to a pub and blueberry jam

Tarang Arora at home in Jaipur
Tarang Arora at home in Jaipur | Image: Sara Hylton

My style icon is Amitabh Bachchan, the Bollywood actor. He’s 75 and has been in the industry for some 50 years, and he still knows just how to dress, how to carry himself. He never fails to impress me with his sense of style – even when he’s wearing casual Indian attire. But style is not always about clothes; it’s about intellect, and I love his use of the Hindi language. His father was a famous poet and I think he gets his language skills from him. 

An object I would never part with is my dark-red, open-topped 4x4 Willys Jeep – a restored second-world-war model that my father and my uncle gave to me on my 18th birthday. I love using it during festivals, especially Holi. It’s a really fun vehicle. 

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, about an Australian bank robber who escapes from prison and ends up in Bombay, where he becomes one of the locals. It’s a quirky story about his life in India and I found it very moving – his love for the country and what it gave him in return. 

Actor Amitabh Bachchan
Actor Amitabh Bachchan | Image: Getty Images

The best gift I’ve given recently was a present to my sister’s husband. We have a £100 limit for family Christmas presents, and I found an advent calendar with a different whisky for each day, most of them single malts. It went down very well. masterofmalt.com.

And the best one I’ve received recently is a double-sided, embossed gold pendant with rubies, given to me by my mother; it came from my father’s collection. It’s about 80 years old and depicts Yalis, the mythological creatures often found on Hindu temples. I love to wear it when I’m dressed in Indian clothes. 

My carry-on essential is the classic Apple cord headphones – there’s nothing overly sophisticated about them, but they don’t fall out and get lost like some of the cordless ones. £29; apple.com.

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An indulgence I would never forgo is beer. I love the English ritual of going to a pub for a pint. I especially enjoy discovering new beers, and I recently found an ale called Jaipur in a pub in Windsor. We have more and more local beers in India but we’re still a long way off Belgian standards. 

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is the late Manjit Bawa. I adore his paintings of Indian gods, goddesses and angels. His use of colour is incredible; it’s very subtle.

My favourite space in my house is the terrace room in our home in Jaipur. It’s where I go when I want to be alone, to read or just to be calm. It has old wooden pillars and is very simple, very Indian, very organic in the way it has come together. There’s a comfortable L-shaped sofa, a huge mirror and a lot of silver objects and photo frames that I pick up in Portobello Road market; for me, they mark the important connection between Britain and India. There’s also a miniature painting by an American artist-photographer, Waswo X Waswo, that I bought from Delhi’s Espace Gallery at the India Art Fair. It’s an Indian palace scene, painted in the Mughal style, and the artist himself is in it, wearing a red suit. galleryespace.com.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

A recent “find” is Ullu Shop, a startup selling leather tech or electronic accessories, some of which are handcrafted. I discovered it at the India Art Fair, and the founder has designed me a special phone cover with a built-in credit-card holder. ullushop.com.

The people I rely on for personal wellbeing are my nutritionist, Surbhi Singh, who is amazing – she changed my salad-only lunches to more carbs and protein, and has me timing them properly – and Sudhangshu Adhilary, a trainer who I’ve been working out with for the past six months, doing mixed martial arts. Sudhangshu Adhilary, muaytharjaipur12@gmail.com. Surbhi Singh, fabeola.surbhi@gmail.com

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Kala Ghoda district, a beautiful up-and-coming area in South Mumbai. I love Obataimu, the Japanese concept store – it’s very simple, minimal and beautiful, and I find unusual things there, like a pair of track pants that you can wear inside out. The clothing label Masaba is  owned by a dear friend who is half Indian and half Antiguan. She works with amazing prints, and I always pop in to see what she’s doing, and sometimes to convince her to make something for me. I also love the new brand Nicobar for edgy Indian clothes that are well cut and ideal for the climate. They also sell interesting accessories; I bought a great beach bag there for Goa. There’s great coffee and a good vibe at the Kala Ghoda Café; and I love Trishna for dinner – its speciality is seafood cooked in the Indian style… the green chilli crab is delicious. Kala Ghoda Café, Bharthania Building A Block, 10 Ropewalk Lane (kgcafe.in). Masaba, G-2 Machinery House, Burjorji Bharucha Marg (houseofmasaba.com). Nicobar, 10 Ropewalk Lane (nicobar.com). Obataimu, B Barucha Marg, Kala Ghoda (obataimu.squarespace.com). Trishna, 7 Saibaba Rd (trishna.co.in).

Arora’s gold and ruby pendant given to him by his mother from his father’s collection
Arora’s gold and ruby pendant given to him by his mother from his father’s collection | Image: Sara Hylton

In my fridge you’ll always find jam and cheese. My favourite jam is an organic heidelbeere [blueberry] variety that reminds me of when I was young and spent summers in Switzerland – friends there send it to me regularly. My cheese comes from Foodhall, a new gourmet food store in Delhi that makes a lot of its own varieties. Last time, I bought a caramelised onion brie. foodhallonline.com

The last music I downloaded was Lollipop by the Chordettes, for my son who wanted a lollipop.  

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a pilot. It was my earliest ambition, but at school my maths was bad, and you need that. Or I would love to invent something technological; I am fascinated by electronic engineering. 

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