While most wake up to Monday blues, Congress leader Mukul Wasnik dreads Saturdays. Tell him he has to take a flight on Saturday and he loses sleep for days on end; tell him he has an important appointment and he would do anything to change it. Mukul’s Saturday phobia has its genesis in his formative years when everything went wrong, from class tests to being spanked by the headmaster and accidents at home. Incidents etched on the mind remain for life and Mukul dreads talking about all that has gone wrong, lest history repeats itself. So it’s not surprising to spot him at famous temples every Saturday pouring mustard oil over idols to douse the wrath of Lord Saturn. He has also visited the Shani temple in Shingnapur off Nasik. He has a picture of Shani-dev close to his heart. “Always in my pocket,” he confesses, “for peace.” That apart, Mukul is also a devotee of Sai Baba.
One thing that Mukul constantly works on improving is his temper. The outward mildness notwithstanding, he lets out that he is extremely short-tempered, especially when he misplaces things. Having tried various temper-control techniques, Mukul sees success at last: “On a scale of 20, the strike rate is 10,” he says while promising to better this score before the year is out.
Food and plants are his passion. As a kid, when his mother was away to work, he could not handle hunger. So he went and bought himself a recipe book and tried his hand at cooking something, which stood him in good stead in later years.
So while he claims an ability to put together an excellent Kashmiri or Mughlai meal, he has on more than one occasion forgotten to add mutton to the biryani. As for plants, his government house in Delhi has all kinds of fruit trees but the precious bonsai are in the family home in Nagpur. “No one in Delhi to look after them,” he laments, reiterating his bachelor status.
While on love, Mukul is still searching. Getting into relationships, he says, is neither easy nor preplanned: “Either it happens or it doesn’t. There is no ready script where the lines are written in advance and all you have to do is read them. Getting into a relationship is neither simple nor easy. In my case it has not happened so far.”
Mukul reckons that this happened because the girls thought he was ‘too old’. Having entered Parliament when he was barely 25, he was written off by his age group as ‘a serious, old fellow’.
His dilemma: “As an MP I was among the youngest but for my friends I had aged overnight, and perhaps outgrown of the circuit of relationships, so to say.”
With his future vacillating between it being too late or there being little time, Mukul says he does not keep a checklist of ten qualities to tick-mark to say if he has met the right person. On the contrary, he fears that at 46 he may have already missed the bus. Any takers?