Countdown to a wedding
Bharathi S. Pradhan
The two magic words "Narendra Modi" are being whispered around the Sinha household as Shatrughan's son, Kussh's wedding draws near. With a series of functions (mehndi, sangeet, marriage and reception) in five-star venues this weekend, the Prime Minister's name as a guest has gained credence after the Sinha trio of Shatrughan, Punam and Sonakshi personally visited the VVIP with the invite. It's a thick box with two neat bags of sugar candy and cardamom over which lie the invitation cards for the various functions.
The change in the venue of the reception from one five-star to another much closer to the domestic airport was necessitated by the larger turnout that's expected than was previously calculated. "Besides, it's better for security reasons since it's so close to the airport," whispered an insider. It kind of confirmed the Prime Minister's name as a guest who has accepted the invitation. Either way, it's one of the biggest weddings this season. Will bring you details from the ringside next week.
Talking of the Prime Minister, Anil Sinha, the new man from Bihar who's in the hot seat as CBI director (after the controversial exit of Ranjit Sinha), is upright, apolitical and a man who believes that he's an Indian without any parochial affiliations. But he does share something with Modi - he works harder than his staff. After sitting at his desk from 9am to 10pm, this Sinha will be back at work poring over piles of files even on a national holiday (read: Christmas) while his staff takes the day off.
A gentle, well-read man who's careful with his words, Anil reads The Telegraph regularly. We can take a bow for his continued interest in the paper.
Trips to Delhi lead to interesting meetings with the celebrities who wield real power in the Capital. One of them is legal luminary Ram Jethmalani, the feisty 93-year-old professor emeritus of Symbiosis Law School in Pune, who is treated like God by the students there. When "God" visited the school a while ago to meet the students, the hall was packed, with kids spilling out into the corridor and hanging on to every word uttered by him. Jethmalani delivered his speech in a voice that was clear and loud without a trace of his age anywhere in it. And what he said was so interesting and informative that the kids knew his mind was still unclouded and ticking, as if he were a student himself.
Ram has a lovely story to tell about this connection. Years ago, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee once asked him what kept him so young. ("I'm older than Vajpayee," he reminds you.) Characteristically, Ram told him, "Come home one evening when we can have a drink or two, and I'll tell you." The two met and clinked glasses when Vajpayee asked him once again what kept him so youthful. Jethmalani asked him if he knew King Solomon's story. "The message from Solomon's story is that a man must have young company," revealed Ram. He also twinkled and told Vajpayee, "I know what your dirty mind is thinking. But I meant the company of young students. I love teaching young students and that's my secret."
The law students of Symbiosis may also take a bow this week for their professor emeritus still has his two huge helpings of cognac with hot water followed by wine every evening. He still plays a mean game of tennis every morning for one hour. And the evening we met in Delhi, he had just flown in after a meeting with a client in Calcutta, a flight that was delayed, took off and was diverted elsewhere, before it finally landed in the Capital five hours later. Driving down straight from the airport, Ram was still warm, full of beans and ready to talk.
Whether it's the pleasant new 60-year-old CBI chief who measures his words with care or the three-decades-older Ram Jethmalani who makes a living from the words he utters, there's much to admire and learn from men like them.
Bharathi S. Pradhan is a senior journalist and author