E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: Addressing the 79th Annual General Meeting of FICCI recently, the Prime Minister, while underlining the need for an integrated Asia, said, “I dream of a day when, I can have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul.”
Subsequently, the Prime Minister thought he should try his dream in India first, as some kind of a rehearsal, similar to the nets Greg Chappell arranged for Team India before they played the disastrous last Test in South Africa.
As he asked his Secretary to plan out his itinerary after talking to the CMs, he was thinking of the mouth-watering dishes that awaited him.
The Secretary was busy all day and came with details late in the evening.
“Which are the places we are going to visit?” asked the affable PM already drooling over the variety on the menu.
“Tamil Nadu have graciously offered to host your breakfast comprising idli, vada, coconut chutney, onion sambhar along with sweet pongal and filter coffee.”
“That was very nice of them. “Dr” Karunanidhi still remembers what I like!”
“Kerala has offered to host your lunch with chicken curry, chicken halwa, coconut rice, payasam, mixed vegetables cooked in coconut oil, banana chips and pappadom with mango pickle.”
“That would be great! They serve food fit for the Gods in Kerala always.”
“But there’s a hitch sir! Kerala withdrew their offer for lunch once they learnt you would be arriving from Tamil Nadu. They are not exactly in talking terms over Mulla Periyar Dam water sharing between their States. Karunanidhi has also sent an email withdrawing his breakfast offer. He says he is prepared to host both breakfast and lunch provided we go back and have our supper in Delhi!”
“Oh, no! We can’t miss Kerala.”
“I called up Maharashtra CM sir. He is our host for breakfast. They will serve sabudana khichdi, aloo poha, vada-paav, Poona usal, srikhand with aam ras made from Ratnagiri mangoes…”
“The variety in our country is amazing. What about lunch?”
“The Karnataka CM is personally supervising your lunch. He wants to serve mavinakai chitraanna, puliyogare, huruli happala, obbattu, Mysore pak, Mysore saaru, badam kheer, curd rice and chilled wine made of Bangalore grapes.”
“Kumaraswamy is a dynamic young man. He puts his heart and soul in whatever he does! When are we leaving…?”
“Same problem here also, Sir. Both have withdrawn their offer to host you once they learnt you are visiting the ‘other’ territory. Belgaum is still a sore thumb between Maharashtra and Karnataka.”
“What’s going on here?” thundered the coolest ever PM of India, losing his cool, “I am trying to promote an Asian League of Nations and what do I have here in my own backyard? States, who are suspicious of their neighbours and prepared, go any length to destroy one another … This is ridiculous…”
“It’s the same everywhere, Sir! Assam will not let you sleep facing Bihar. In West Bengal, Buddha has confirmed hosting a big spread of Bengali dishes comprising fish curry, ghee chawal, fish chips, sandesh, mishti doi and rasagulla… but he needs an NOC from Mamtha didi, if Ratan Tata is going to join you for lunch….!”
“If I am unable to have breakfast, lunch and dinner in our own States, how can I promote regional cooperation among Asian countries? I feel terrible!”
The PM was both sad and hurt. Sad, because he wouldn’t be able to eat the items his PA read out and hurt because the States were quibbling ever so frequently…
“Sir, if you don’t mind, shall I suggest something…. you should also do what some of your colleagues do which, in a way, is least controversial and there would be no khit-phit, afterwards.”
“Have breakfast in London, lunch in Montreal and dinner in Los Angeles.”
“Who will host me?” asked the PM.
“Peeoji, sir! The Pravasi Indian Origin Group (PIOG)!”