Virgin Atlantic’s “big” announcement

As Grant mentioned last week, Virgin Atlantic has been up to something. When they started sending all kinds of cryptic emails to their frequent fliers last week, our minds started to run wild. What could it be? In flight jacuzzis for upper class fliers?! New solid gold airplanes?! Personal in-seat LASERS?!

Last night, Gadling headed over to the Frank Gehry-designed IAC Building in Manhattan to find out. After all the suspense, it turns it was for the launch of a new Virgin credit card. Meh. If you’re looking to throw down enough money to wrack up one million miles you can redeem them for a trip on Virgin’s new space flights, Virgin Galactic. Think you can spend enough? Yeah, me neither.

While the announcement wasn’t as momentous as we had hoped, Virgin did manage to throw down a pretty swanky launch party, complete with free massages courtesy of Virgin’s spa partner Cowshed. You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to fly Virgin, the service is awesome. But only if somebody else was paying for my ticket – they are downright expensive. Hey Virgin, how about a ticket giveaway so we can let Gadling readers try for themselves?

Latest India craze: Bollywood-cum-cricket

Talk to anyone from India and if you can’t comment on the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament that just kicked off, odds are that you’ll be made redundant for any further communication.

The tournament is the latest craze that has hit the country, and has left people bedazzled with illusion of what will be over 7-weeks of dance, music, and sport “hungama” (madness). This is of no surprise as it involves the two things that practically run the country: Bollywood and cricket.

This is the first time that international cricketers will put aside national loyalties to play in a private tournament wherein the players were selected by a multi-million-dollar auction earlier this year. Over 100 national and international players have been offered bundles of cash to participate in the 44-day, 59-match, 8-city, cricket league in India.

The 8 teams, named after main cities in India, were also bought in an auction by Indian business moguls like Mukesh Ambani and Vijay Mallya, and Bollywood stars like Sharukh Khan and Priti Zinta.

The opening ceremony last Friday in Bangalore was a 45-minute Bollywood-style extravaganza with music, fireworks, light-shows and acrobats flown in from the Washington Redskins cheerleaders group, and attended by 55,000 people. You can watch bits of it here.

Unfortunately, it looks like this event of such hype and hysteria will not be covered by world news agencies because of a brawl over event photo distribution rights.

In India, Bollywood and cricket are as embedded in our culture as chai and squat toilets. You have to understand them to understand us. I have no doubt that this tournament will be a roaring success and I wish I could be in India for some of the matches! Living abroad has its cons. Sigh.

Pinkberry: Coming to a corner near you

Ever heard of Pinkberry? Considering that people line up around the corner at its Los Angeles and New York stores for a taste of the store’s signature frozen yogurt, which is a hit among several celebrities, probably. I’ve never been to Pinkberry, and living up here in Canada, I suppose I probably won’t pay them a visit for a very long time, but you might see a store come to your neighbourhood. That’s right, the bizarrely popular, perversely expensive yogurt chain is expanding. And considering that the Chairman of Starbucks is one of the people working on the deal, expect to see a lot of them.

What’s all the hype about, you ask? Pinkberry offers a selection of tasty, fat-free fro-yos with yummy toppings that you can choose yourself, like chocolate chips, mango and Fruity Pebbles cereal. Still, I’m not sure I would wait in line for it.