Hyderabad, May 18: Pope Benedict XVI, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair'
No, it’s not a congregation of world leaders. They just missed each other’s company ' at a wedding in Andhra Pradesh.
The global big shots are among the nearly 50,000 people K. Rambabu has invited for his daughter’s wedding tonight. But numbers ' and the guest list ' are not what the hotelier wants to flaunt. For him, a wedding invite is more of an instrument of religious and social harmony.
So among the 45,000 cards the hotelier has printed for his second daughter, 21-year-old Ratna Shirisha’s wedding are 17 different types that have portraits of religious leaders and another 17 that have pictures of popular film stars and icons.
Separate cards were printed for 276 heads of state and leaders of prominent political parties all over the world. Within India, he sent cards to the President, the Prime Minister and governors of all the states and Union territories. “Every card was printed with their photos and with very personal addresses,” Rambabu said. All the VIP addresses were printed in gold and the invites were accompanied by either sweets or chocolate boxes.
Rambabu, who owns a hotel in Tadepalligudem in West Godavari district, has no illusions that the bigwigs would attend the wedding.
“I know none will care to come. But I wanted the blessings of people from all creeds and communities for my daughter,” he said.
Each card carried telephone and fax numbers as well as Internet addresses so that the invitees, even if they chose not to come, could bless the bride and the software engineer groom, the son of a local merchant.
And the blessings have indeed come.
At least 200 of the 276 heads of state have sent greetings through the Net and telegrams. Some of the blessings were routed through embassies, Rambabu said. In all, he has received about 30,000 greetings, he added.
The greeting from Chirac is the jewel among the lot, Rambabu said. “The French President has sent a personally hand-written greeting to the couple,” he told The Telegraph over phone.
This is not the first time that Rambabu has gone in pursuit of what he thinks is a social cause.
Way back in the seventies, he had produced the country’s first sex education film in Telugu. However, he gave up the idea of a career in the industry, as the film did not run for even 10 days. But he has emerged successful in the hotel industry in the tobacco-rich town, 345 km from Hyderabad, where he achieved another first by introducing fast-food outlets with a Chinese menu.
“I introduced Manchurian noodles and hot and sour soup in the hinterland of Andhra way back in the early eighties,” Rambabu said, a touch of pride in his voice.
But what if all the invitees had chosen to turn up. Surely, even the fastest cooks in his fast-food chain would have called it quits.