Spice of life: Respected chief guests

  • Jagvir Goyal
  • Updated: Jul 10, 2015 09:19 IST

The chief guests, be it political leaders or celebrities or men of accomplishments, must watch their behaviour in public, as people observe it curiously. The dignitaries need to stay alert all the time and live up to their image. Their humbleness and alertness has a magnetic effect on people.

Once, a gymkhana club invited the chairman of an organisation as chief guest. As he took his chair on the dais and viewed the audience, he found a senior but now retired officer of his concern sitting in the second row. He got up immediately and called for him. The retired officer waved, conveying that it was all right for him to sit in the audience; but the chief guest insisted: “Either you come up or I’ll have to come down to bring you over.” As the retired officer rose, a big cheer for the chief guest came as an instant reaction from the gathering.

Being punctual is another attribute that people admire in chief guests, as waiting irritates anybody. Once I was at the prize-distribution function of a university where, opposed to the tradition, the chief guest arrived on time. Except his white beard, he had no other sign of age. He had an athletic built and walked with a spring in his feet. He wore an open jacket, seemingly not appropriate for the occasion, but his mannerism and interest in the arrangements took our mind off it. His presence electrified the organisers. The heads of all departments were also in time, perhaps aware of his habit of being punctual.

Before the prize distribution, postgraduates were to receive their degrees and the heads of various departments had to read out their annual reports of achievements. They came one by one. The chief guest listened to them attentively, never looking bored or sleepy. At times, his eyes would scan the rows of students sitting in the auditorium. He seemed in full command of things.

One of the HoDs, a short woman, wasn’t audible at the mike, since it was set higher. However, she continued to read. For a few moments, the chief guest watched, looked around at a few people, and then he got up from his chair, walked over to the microphone and adjusted it. Seeing the chief guest moving triggered a commotion. A few people ran on to the dais but, by the time, the job had been done; and the lady, who had got her voice back, was wonderstruck and had paused. The chief guest gestured her to continue and returned to his seat. As the perplexed organisers also moved back to position, the awestruck gathering broke into a loud applause for the chief guest.

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