Parantha, suji halwa, kismis and climate change

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The one-on-one breakfast talks between President Barack Obama and visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were understandably held in top secrecy. Even the top aides were not present.

However, the omnipresent fly on the wall was capturing the talks for posterity.


Aapka swagath hai, Manmohanji,” welcomed Obama hands folded in a neat namaskar.

Dhanyavad, Obamaji. I bring greetings from one billion people!”

Lassi with pudina and kadi pattha surprised the visiting Prime Minister.

“Mr Prime Minister, if you don’t mind, I will straight away come to the point. Please tell your environment minister Jairam Ramesh to go slow in Copenhagen. He doesn’t want to accept any of our plans to reduce pollution and, instead, is taking aggressive postures.”

“He is only doing his job, Mr President. After the pollution of the environment by developed countries for a major part of a billion years, you can’t ask us, developing countries, now to  save trees, rivers and glaciers in the next decade.”

Is Dr Singh unusually aggressive this morning, thought Obama.

“Manmohanji! Aap ka phir swagath hai! Please have the aloo parantha with dahi. I oversaw the preparation of the dal myself. What do you think of our ‘Af-Pak’ policy?”

“Obamaji! When I heard it first, I thought ‘Af-Pak’ was a short form for Afghan Snow in a new card board packing! Please tell me what the policy is all about.”

“Manmohanji! It is not ready yet. Secretary Clinton is studying it for the last few weeks and once she understands that, she will make a presentation to me.”

“Whatever it is, I hope it doesn’t involve arming Pakistan to its teeth so that the Government there and their terrorist friends do not launch attacks on India like they did last year.”

Did they put red chilly for decoration on dahi instead of cherry, wondered Obama? Was it Mexican or Andhra green chilly in my dal? Why is his face red all over?

“Manmohanji, aap ka phir swagath hai. Please have some suji halwa! I know it is your favourite sweet. Mrs Singh herself told this when Michelle called her up. The chef from Jalandhar flew in to Washington last night to prepare specially for you. Have some kismis and badam!”

“Thank you, Obamaji! You and Mrs Obama are as sweet as suji halwa! When you were in China, you made a joint statement with Prime Minister Hu  Jintao saying, China will oversee the South Asia region and will try to ‘solve’ India-Pakistan outstanding problems. I want to know how China is qualified to interfere in our bilateral issues.”

Did the chef put salt instead of sugar in the suji halwa, wondered Obama.

‘Did we say that? Maybe I said that in China. Please ignore that. I will have a clarification issued first thing in the morning Mr Prime minister, I have made sure FBI provides all details about Headley and Rana. Your police can question them. If you want, we will both question them. Right here, over a glass of beer, OK?”

“Thank you, Mr. President, for welcoming me so many times! I want to know when Pakistan will hand over their terror suspects to us.  I think Pakistan is running with the hare and hunting with the Hounds. This double game must stop.”

I think it is better to play the trump card now, thought Obama.

“Manmohanji!  I have a small present for you. Different shades of blue for your pagdi; if you don’t mind will you teach me how to wear one?  When I step down from the plane in Delhi, you will see me wearing one. Now regarding Copenhagen….”

“I will talk to Jairam.”

The beaming leaders were then ready for a joint ‘Meet the Press’ session.