The champagne flowed, Shazia Mirza was at her acerbic best, there was an appearance from an impressive special guest, a litany of not-unexpected irritants and surprising winners as the Asian Achievers Awards honoured Britain's finest South Asians.
The 13th annual edition of the popular awards ceremony - organized by ABPL Group, publishers of Gujarat Samachar and the Asian Voice - was held Friday (06 Sept) at the plush Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
The billionaire industrialists Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja won yet another 'Lifetime Achievement Award', adding to their curiously growing trophy cabinet, beating out the likes of Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta Resources and cricketer-turned-commentator Nasser Hussain.
"This is a great honour and makes our responsibility greater and harder. Our dharma and duty is to serve the Asian community in Britain as best as we can," the Press Trust of India quoted Gopichand Hinduja, co-chairman of the Hinduja Group as saying.
There were plenty of other surprises on the night, most notably Independent newspaper editor Amol Rajan - the first British Asian to helm a national newspaper - losing out in the Media, Arts and Entertainment Category which went to dancer, actress and producer Seeta Indrani.
Other winners included Prof Naina Patel, the founder of Policy Research Institute on Community and Inter-faith Relations, for her contributions to community service and Nandita Parshad, director of the power and energy utilities team at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The biggest surprise of the night however, came late in the evening when Keith Vaz MP introduced American Civil Rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson - on a flying visit to Britain - who stirred the audience from its slumber with a rousing speech about the power inherent in cultural identity.
Whilst the winners were predictably unexpected and the speeches drawn-out and self-congratulatory, British-Pakistani comic Shazia Mirza kept the audience engaged and laughing with some carefully timed barbs at Keith Vaz and special guest Cherie Blair who looked magnificent in a pink sari whilst declaring that she was "an honorary member of the Asian community in Britain".
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