Friday, May 4, 2012
77. First, too many.....
Over a two and a half course dinner, I was fed with narratives of my hostess' travels across continents. Much before I could taste all that was on offer, she had ferried me across countries in a racy narrative bereft of any punctuation. While I was still working on my bowl of dal, the lady had already dipped herself into the Thermal Springs at Sofia and much before I could lift a morsel of mixed vegetables, my hostess was up narrating the exquisite beauty of the Khomas Highlands at Windhoek. My limited knowledge of geography was surely put on test as I sat wondering why would a middle class woman of average demeanor travel to god-forsaken places?
Neither was there a windfall of fortune nor any reference to undue favor showered on her, and yet she could accomplish some of the amazing travels across continents that had left me envious of her. And I suspect her husband was no less envious either, ignominious victim of his wife's unending verbal diarrhoea. A couple of days later I had learnt that my generous hostess was then 'the first sister-in-law of the country'. Not an acknowledged expression in the law books of the country but one that describes how such relationships to the 'first citizen' rob public exchequer and make the national carrier become a symbol of 'national shame'. She had apparently accompanied her 'brother-in-law', the then President of India, on many of his foreign junkets.
The outgoing 'first' woman president of the country has many 'firsts' to her credit. For being pally with the current government a'la rubber stamp, she scored 'first' in the number of countries any president could visit during his tenure. For being a mother, she made several of her close and distant relatives feel the warmth of being closer to 'the first citizen' on many of her overseas travels. True to her contested candidature, she has struck many 'firsts' in her 'first' foray as the 'first citizen' of the country. If number carries any significance then it must not go unnoticed that she has been the 13th President of India!