One of the (debatable) perks of my current job is the travel required in the most interesting area of the country – The Cow Belt. It has characters and incidents in abundance – and the space to appreciate the finer details. After all, what is a story if it is not spaced out?
Every trip of mine throws up at least a couple of very recount-able stories which are sure to pep up any after-dinner conversation!
Hell, I love this job!
Jharkhand wants Bipasha!
On recent trips to Ranchi, I am regaled with interesting stories about the musical-chairs that are routine part of the choosing the CM in the state. Then, I was told how the choice of the Chief Secretary also invloves hectic lobbying because one candidate wants to make money, one wants to get into politics and the third candidate is a Bengali... who wants to become the Chief Secretary and then use the clout to get posted to Calcutta! What things you do for Bhapa Ilish!
On one of these trips, I asked as an ice-breaker, “Aur, kya haal hain Jharkhand ka?” – which is really one of those questions one does not really expect an answer apart from a sighing “Chal raha hain…”
This time, there was an answer… “Jharkhand mein ab sab ko Bipasha chahiye…”
Yeah right, everyone agrees John Abraham is the luckiest man on the planet! So I smiled one of those same-here-dude kind of smile.
But there was an explanation… Bi is Bijli. Pa is Paani. And Sha is Sadak.
So, Ms Basu will have to wait. After Roti-Kapdaa-Makaan, the next triumvirate is here!
Circular No. 41/2005
An interesting board adorns the entrance to the security area in Lucknow airport. Actually, it is probably there at all airports (from the statutory compliance point of view), but only Lucknow is spacious and relaxed enough for it to get noticed.
It is the list of Persons who are Exempt from the Pre-Embarkation Security Checks at Indian airports (vide Bureau of Civil Aviation Circular No. 41/2005 dated 28.09.2005). It consists of positions (not individuals) that are of national importance or prestige. Except one.
It starts with The President, The Vice President and The Prime Minister - predictably occupying the top three spots. The list includes a whole lot of people including (but not restricted to) foreign dignitaries, Supreme Court judges and some exalted classes of Parliamentarians.
What is curious is the last name in the list.
Number 21 is His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Number 22 is an all-encompassing term called 'SPG Protectees'.
Number 23 is 'Mr Robert Vadra, when travelling with SPG Protectees'.
Which means, we will frisk Sachin Tendulkar at the airports. We will frisk Amartya Sen. We will frisk Amitabh Bachchan (till of course, he becomes No. 1 in the list!) - because they do not hold any post of national importance. We will frisk Rahul Dravid, because his position is probably not important enough.
But we will not frisk a small-time Delhi businessman (identified by name) because he is married to the nation's first Prime Minister's great-granddaughter.
And as I brought one more trip to a close, I saw what I thought had become a astronomical impossibility.
I saw Amar Singh without Amitabh! He chirpily boarded the flight to Delhi. So while I took the brunt of the wrong end of the sighting, some lucksters in Bombay must have hit pay dirt. They would have seen Amitabh without Amar Singh!
Damn, I hate this job!