My State Dinner - Part I

I generally avoid dinners organized by others because I love to pay for my own dinner. But this was something different. How many times in your life will you be invited to a state dinner by ‘The President of India’?

Well, here I was. I think I was the lucky one chosen from a tough process. The President had ordered inclusion of a few ‘Common Indians’ to the State Dinner she had organized in the honor of the President of USA (अमरीका)– Mr.Barack Obama. The selection process was tough. The Income Tax Dept of India was asked to choose a few people who had struggled to get their IT Refunds back from the Govt. I being harassed by the Dept for 4 yrs suddenly was in the news for I was one of the lucky ones to get selected!

Never in my wildest dreams had I thought that I would go for a state dinner at the “Rashtrapati Bhavan”. It was once in a lifetime opportunity and I never wanted to miss it. It took me a few hours to find a white shirt and a white trouser which I thought of wearing for the dinner. The politicians like to look ‘clean’ with the white colors on and I thought if I wear something else, I would look like the odd one out. I had no other choice but to go for ‘white’. I couldn’t afford to buy a new ‘Ambassador’ car and I drove with my old Honda to the venue.

It was ‘the’ place to be that night. I mean, you guys can’t even imagine. The place, the lights, and the security – everything was like a dream or a Hollywood movie. I was sure, no trespassers would make it to the dinner unlike they do at the ‘Whitehouse’.

I was taken to the ‘Bhavan’ after I somehow managed to park my car. I went alone as I was invited alone. So don’t think that I was with ‘someone’ at the party (sorry ‘Dinner’).

As I walked through the corridor of the Bhavan, I was able to see the pictures of all our ex-Presidents and ex-PMs! What a sight that was. For once I wondered if I was visiting an Old Age Home because all the Presidents looked like they were abandoned by their families in the OLD age and then they came to power (?) as the President of India. Well, the PMs were a good sigh of relief for me. I did see all the PM’s pictures closely and was happy that apart from the gentlemen called ‘Vajpeyi’ and ‘Deve Gowda’, all other PMs were awake while their pictures were taken.

( I clicked this picture with my 'Yashica' camera! )

I was really very happy to be there. I thought I was the luckiest ‘Common’ man to be there. Then there was the moment, I was waiting for - To get introduced to the elite of Indian politics, business and cinema (these cinema buggers always jump in at any event). The person accompanying me took me to the President and proudly introduced me saying, “He wasn’t able to get his IT Refund for 4 years only.” The President smiled back and said, “कमीत-कमी तुला पैसे मिळाले तरी. इथे बर्र्याच लोकांच उभ आयुष्य निघून जात रिफंड ची वाट बघत.” (which in Obama's mothertounge means -"At least you got the money. Most people spend their lifetime waiting for the IT Refund.)

Oh Sorry, I guess you guys know that the President is a Maharashtrian (that doesn’t mean that I was the ‘chosen’ one for the dinner, I qualified cause of my IT Refund criteria only) and hearing my last name (having a look at the proud badge I was wearing – ANAND DHOLI), she could make out that I was either a Maharashtrian or an Alien with that kind of last name!

I was taken aback by the humble President. I can say that cause I had received the ‘menu’ of the dinner along with my invitation letter and it has ‘Misal Pav’ and ‘Vada Pav’ as the main course! A true Maharashtrian in every sense and a humble Indian! When the whole of Bombay lives on ‘Vada Pav’, how can the President ignore it? The ‘Vada Pav’ was from ‘Krishna Vada Pav Center’ at Dadar (West). The packing of the Vada Pav was clearly saying it.

Oh sorry, how can I move to food topic so early in my visit? Ok. Where was I? Yeah! The introduction of mine lasted for a few minutes. I almost met all of the guests. This was on my agenda so that when I go back home, I could tell all my relatives, friends, family members that I had met the who’s who of India! While being introduced to the President of USA, the guy accompanying me said, “He is Anand Dholi and he doesn’t own a flat in Adarsh Society.” The President smiled. I felt a little awkward by this cause everyone standing tall in that hall had a stake in Adarsh Society. What a shame for me! I couldn’t manage a simple flat in this esteemed society and have wasted my life renting a house all my life. I really felt like leaving the party cause I was not in the other people’s league but I couldn't, cause this was once in a lifetime opportunity for me. How could I let you all be deprived of what all I saw that night there? So I decided to stay. Just for you! My blog readers!

(Obama seen here with the 'Chefs' who had prepared the dinner that night - clicked with my 'Yashica' camera)

Ok. Now its time for me to stop and would request you to come back here in some days time. Don’t miss the second part of the series. What all I have written above is just the first 1 hour of my stay at the ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’! I stayed there for nearly 3 hours and 55 minutes. So if you want to know what all happened later on, do come back here. Good option is to check this site every day!

If ‘Rakht Charitra’ can have a ‘Rakht Charitra-2’ (releasing on December 3rd 2010), why can’t my blog have a post as Part 1 and 2?