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Features

Cricketer, soldier and diplomacy
Rohit Bhaskar, Hindustan Times
Canberra, December 18, 2011
First Published: 00:05 IST(18/12/2011)
Last Updated: 10:42 IST(18/12/2011)

Duleepsinhji, nephew of the legendary Ranjitsinhji, was a man of many talents — cricketer extraordinaire and a prince to boot. There’s one role he essayed we bet you didn’t know —Indian high commissioner to Australia.

India’s current high commissioner to Australia Sujatha Singh, who hosted the visiting Indian team for a dinner at her residence, says with pride some of the illustrious countrymen who’ve held that post before her, including Duleepsinhji and India’s former Field Marshal KM Cariappa.

Singh, who also hosted India during their last tour Down Under in 2008, days after the Monkeygate scandal erupted in the Sydney Test, also showed her sense of humor, reaching out to the central characters in that episode. “Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh are both back home in India, one in the Bigg Boss house, and the other in his own house. However, I’m confident if both were here they’d get along well because they play for the same IPL team now,” she said.

Better than uranium

Australia’s federal minister of energy, resources and tourism, Martin Ferguson was also in attendance and talked of the recent treaty which will see Australia sell uranium to India.

India skipper MS Dhoni, who gave an eloquent speech at the high commission, however, said there’s one Australia export, or rather three, that is more important than uranium.

“I must admit there are three Australian imports as good as uranium - Michael Hussey, Matthew Hayden and Doug Bollinger (all from the Dhoni-skippered Chennai Super Kings). They all have been great in Chennai and helped us win the IPL.” Dhoni also showed his funny bone is still very much intact. “Before the series I saw Australian cricketers on Indian television saying, ‘It’s winter in here, and summer over here, the temperatures are going to soar’. I took their word a bit too literally and didn’t pack any sweaters (the minimum temperature here on Friday night was 9 degrees celsius),” he said.

Lucky ride

The dinner at the high commission was scheduled for a 18.30pm start.

At 18.15 one was still in the hotel room. Rushing out, one looked for a cab. Just one’s luck, one found an NRI cabbie.

“To the Indian high commission,” one said, confident the cabbie would know where it was, only to find out that one was dealing with the rudest cabbie in the Australian Capital Territory who simply drove off without giving as much as an explanation.

One saw a gentleman emerging from a BMW 7-series, and asked, “Could you please tell me which way would be the quickest to the Indian high commission?”

The man, in his mid-40s, offered a ride. As it emerged the man, George, turned out to be the high commissioner’s driver and it was the envoy’s car. Co-incidence, or a higher hand at play?


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