Now that you know what all happened in the first hour of my stay at the Bhavan, it’s time for me to tell you the remaining part. So here it comes – My State Dinner Part II.
Ok for you all who think that the dinner was just to welcome the US President, hold on! There were a few other reasons to celebrate India on that night. The first one was the successful completion of the Common ‘Wealth’ Games and the second one the successful auction of the 2G Spectrum in India! What more can an Indian ask for? Celebrating two of the most successful events in the history of Independent India. There have been a lot of events in the history of India before this but these two stand out as these events are showcasing India’s power (whatever that means) to the whole world.
( DholiBaba seen here with Mr and Mrs. Obama and Mr. Manmohan Singh )
The Great Kalamadi and The King ‘Raja’ were the center of attention at the dinner table. Oh Yes! The dinner table was a huge one – which could easily accommodate at least 300 guets at one go. Later I came to know that the Presidential Palace had ‘purchased’ it at an auction of the ‘remains’ of the ‘Games Village’! The center table was much talked about at the gathering. Everyone was wondering how Kalmadi and his team ‘imported’ the ‘special’ wood which was used to manufacture the table. Everyone rose to the occasion and a toast was the starting point of the dinner. A successful completion of such a big event without a pinch of corruption was a matter of pride for everyone present there. I could see Mr.Kalmadi laughing (all the way to his bank account) & cheering everyone. I never expected but the cheering was carried out by some ‘cheerleaders’ specially imported from the US. Yes! They were from the ‘Washington Redskins Cheerleaders’ group which was hired by Vijay Mallya for his IPL team a couple of years ago. The cheerleaders got the guests ‘going’ and swing to the latest Bollywood numbers.
One favorite song among the guests was, “Munni Badnaam Hui ….”. It was simple for me to understand the reason behind it. Everyone else (except Kalmadi) were replacing ‘Munni’ with ‘Dilli’ while gyrating their pelvis to the item number. The sheer joy and happiness was sponsored by none other than the King of Good Times – Mallya! I can see the pride in his eyes. First cause the same cheerleaders which enhanced his team’s appeal were gracing the occasion and second, the sheer joy of seeing KingFisher rule everywhere.
While all this was happening, I could see Mr and Mrs Obama having a good time together. And yes, Michelle was the tallest (man) at the gathering! She was wearing some handicrafts she had bought in the afternoon from one of the ‘Handicraft Mela’ organized specially for the Obamas. She loved it and her love for her wardrobe was visible in her sparkling eyes. Barack was also chilled out so I thought why not have a word with him. There was my moment in the history (of my life) – me standing next to Mr. President of the United (48) States of America. America – which was ‘discovered’ by a guy called ‘Columbus’ after he missed his bus and took a boat to roam around the world.
As I went to Mr. Obama, he welcomed me with a smile. I didn’t tell him that I have a history (good one - at least I can say that and a few others say so) in IT Industry, else he would have completely ignored me (for reasons well known). I introduced him myself as – “Anand Dholi: Just another Indian who feels proud of the ‘Adarsh’ with which we successfully completed the Common ‘Wealth’ Games.” I was curious to know how a simple (?) man can be the president of America. I was curious to know his vision about ‘World Peace’ (I knew it was not any Miss World/Universe pageant where all the participants are worried about their makeup and ‘World Peace’). So I asked and apt came the reply “Yes! We can!!!”. To which I said in my mind, “कर तो हम भी सकते है!”. When I asked him to explain more about his ‘Can’ word, I guess he was confused with my pronunciation (me being schooled in Marathi medium all my life) and said that ‘Coca-Cola’ was on the right hand side of the dinner table. Without further delay, I said bye to him and moved on.
The surprise of the dinner was Rahul Gandhi sitting next to an old man called L K Advani. I was just wondering what they must be discussing while sitting next to each other. One guess was – How the East meets West? How can they screw up Mayawati’s plan of becoming the next PM of India, considering the old man was never able to fulfill his dream of a lifetime all these 85 years and the younger one hopes to become the PM one day. But I couldn't make any further guesses into their discussion as their age difference was huge!
I could see another old man called Krishna (MEA and not MA as in "Agneepath") making some notes. I think he was preparing himself to talk to the American President about our beloved neighbor. The sheer anger I could see in his eyes was not for the issues with our neighbor but the chicken that had been served to him. I guess he was not happy with the preparation and I saw him calling one of the ‘Chefs’ and explaining how he should make notes before preparing anything. Then there was the King – RAJA! He looked like one. Any ‘G’ (be it ‘Games’ or ‘2G’) is a hot topic at any political gatherings and the sheer joy of being at the center can only be felt by people like Raja. I was very happy to see that Raja was using BSNL movile service. Made me proud cause at least they have one customer who must be happy with the services of BSNL!
Sitting at one of the corners were a lady and a gentleman, named Jaylalitha and Karunanidhi respectively. The lady was wearing one hell of an ensemble and the gentleman was flashing his goggles (you can also Google to find out the man who wears his goggles 24x7) in the dark. I guess Karunanidhi has signed a huge deal as a brand ambassador with Ray-Ban, else he wouldn’t be wearing those 'spectacular' specs all the time – even when he goes to bed! But one thing I didn’t notice was the chair in which the lady was sitting. I realized it a bit later. The chair has some huge wheels so that the guest sitting on it can be moved smoothly from one place to another.
While all this was going on, the guests heard a huge thud – like that of an earthquake. I ran to the nearest pillar hearing the same. After a few moments, we all realized that it was a guy called ‘Gad’kari (‘Gad’ means a ‘Fort’ in Marathi language) who had slipped on the floor. I have seen him slipping his tongue a few times (since he became the president of a party) but this was the first time I saw him slipping literally. The US secret service guys immediately arranged one crane to lift him up from the ground. With that kind of body, one needs a crane to get lifted for sure. The action of the secret service was quick though (I later came to know that the Delhi Police had arrived at the Bhavan next day noon cause some one really panicked after the thud and dialed ‘100’).
With the tuxedos the secret service guys were wearing at the dinner, I could hardly laugh at my ‘Jitendra’ (the Bollywood actor of yester years) getup – a white shirt and a white trouser! But then, I wanted to be just one of ‘them’.
The food was really good and I think (not sure) that the order of the dinner was placed with ‘Karims’ from Chandani Chowk. But one thing got my attention like none other. I saw two women cooking food at one of the corners. They had their ‘choolha’ made up of stoned and wood there. They were preparing some special dish for some special guest. Both the women looked like they were coming from the ‘real’ India, economically weak and deprived. Their clothes were saying that loudly. I was moved. I just went to see what they were cooking and what brought them to this gathering. When I asked them about the special food they were preparing, pat came the reply – “हम राहुलजी के लिए खाना बनावत है. उनको हमरे हाथ का खाना बहुत अच्छा लागत है!” (in Obama’s mother tongue it means, “We are preparing the food for Rahil-ji. He loves food cooked by us.”) I had no words to say & seeing Rahul-ji having food at many places on TV, I just had to move to another corner of the dinning room.
I was really amazed by the experiences that night. I got to see the cream of India - one I had never dreamt of ever seeing at one place. I was hungry so I moved to the table where all the preparations were put together. The man that I am, I was happy with my झूनका भाकर (Zoonka Bhakar – A preparation made up of Besan and Bajara Roti). I didn't try the sweets as the memories of that dinner are the sweetest thing that I will have with me forever!!!
P.S.: There is no 'Part III' of the 'My State Dinner' series as I heard that ‘Rakth Charitra’ has only 2.