Author of The Land of the Wilted Rose, of the The White Mahatma Quartet, Anand Ranganathan studied Chemistry at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and went on to pursue a doctorate from Cambridge. A man of varied interests, he is researching dengue and tuberculosis at the International Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at Delhi. We told you, varied interests!
N Ram’s Doodles
Hello there – greetings from Rangarajan!
First and foremost, apologies for the delay in uploading my blogposts. Your aunty Vaijanthi tells me that your uncle (that’s me) is getting more and more popular in cyberspace. Well, I have only you and lord Balaji to thank for it!
Dear readers, quickly accept my jasmine-scented apologies so I can begin.
As you know, I was transferred unceremoniously from I&B to the Ministry of Culture by Shri Manish Tewari. The last few weeks have gone in accomplishing two major tasks: decorating my cubicle with all the standing-with-VIPs photos, and second, getting in the good books of our Minister, the hon’ble Ms. Chandresh Kumari (an ex-maharani).
Now getting in the good books of a minister is very difficult, especially if you aren’t related. And so I’ve been taking extra care to make sure all our Ministry’s brochures have large 800 dp close-ups of Ms Kumari. Of course, I photoshop all blackheads and make sure I digitally stretch her left earlobe so it comes to the same level as her right earlobe. And my efforts haven’t gone unappreciated. I’m happy to disclose to you that the name Rangarajan has finally been entered in her good book – I myself saw her scribbling the name!
Yes, the minister likes me. So much so that she called me in her office last Thursday.
“Rangarajan”, she said, pronouncing it – like all north Indians do – as Rangrajan.
“A delegation of Culture Ministers from three communist countries – China, Cuba, and North Korea – will be in Delhi tomorrow. It’s for the Incredible Indiaahhhhh conference that we are organising. As you know, my darling friend Shhobhhaaa De was adamant we bung in those extra As and Hs for vastu and numerological purposes. Sorry – where was I? – about these ministers…”
“Yes, madam”, I said, thinking she wanted me to arrange for their stay at the YMCA – that’s where most of these communists put up. Wonderful people, the communists: parsimonious and penny-pinching – simple living, high thinking.
“They’ll be staying at the Leela Palace for a week. Their governments are footing the bill.”
So much for being a parsimonious communist, I thought.
“Rangarajan, I want you to accompany them for dinner tomorrow as I’m away to Jodhpur for a polo match. Returning on the morning of the conference.”
“Yes, madam,” I said, thinking immediately which restaurant and who would foot my bill. Somehow it didn’t look like a simple Saravana Bhavan excursion. The minister as if read my mind.
“The restaurant is in Leela only – Le Cirque. Vir said it’s the fourth best restaurant in the world. Very expensive. Excellent food. But I must say I found the menu a tad boring. Told as much to Vir when I bumped into him at the Roberto Cavalli show. He said he’ll convey the same to the hotel manager. Good of Vir. Don’t know if he did. I think he must have.”
Lord Ayappa! What Vir? Which Qawwali show? I had no idea what the minister was talking about. I only wanted to know if someone would foot my bill.
“Needless to mention, Rangarajan, you’re fully covered. You like sushi, no?”
I nodded perplexed, thinking what’s Shashi Tharoor got to do with all this.
“But not more than one glass of house-red, please. Those communists can have as much as they want, but we are still socialists and one glass – that’s 9000 bucks – is sufficient. Two and the matter will reach the National Advisory Council, and frankly I don’t want to face Jean Drèze ever again. You understand?”
“Er, yes, madam”, I said.
“Good. Have fun. Dismissed.”
Next day, dear readers, when I reached Leela Palace in the evening, there was a line of Rolls Royces and Bentleys with Chinese and Cuban and North Korean flags fluttering from their bonnets. I quickly slipped out from my WagonR and joined the Culture ministers in the elevator. I was the only one from a non-communist country, and, god-promise, I was the only one dumb-struck by the sheer opulence of the hotel. But the communists and their interpreters seemed completely at home. They were very polite to me and enquired whether the three-piece suit I was wearing was from Blackberry or some-such. I thought Blackberry made only phones, but anyway. I replied in the negative and told them it was from Mahalingam & Sons, Karol Bagh.
The elevator came to a halt and all of us got out. The Chinese minister seemed to know the Le Cirque manager by first name. “Ah, Mistel Kishole!” he shouted.
“Mr. John Appleton! Delighted to see you”, responded this Kishore fellow. “This way please, gentlemen”, he added and guided us to a long table.
The next few hours, dear readers, went as though in a dream. I’ll not bore you with the details, nor will I tell you how much the communist governments of China, Cuba, and North Korea had to shell out for our dinner and merriment, but one thing I do know: if this is what communism is, and if this is how a communist country takes care of its people, then I pray long and hard to lord Ayappa that I be born a North Korean in my next birth!
In keeping with this theme, I now upload my next doodle. It is by N Ram, dear readers. One of two names known to every south Indian – the other being PG Wodehouse. Wonderful fellows, these two, aren’t they. They both have their Jeeves and both make their readers roll on the floor laughing (oh, how I wish there was an acronym for that phrase, my fingers are tired typing so much!).
So long, till my next upload, dear readers – or should I say, dear comrades! Stay on the left side and don’t do anything that Stalin wouldn’t – the Soviet Stalin not the DMK one.