Some snacks and namkeen he had carried from Jabalpur saved Vidhan Sabha Speaker Ishwardas Rohani and his avowed vegetarianism in Nigeria. With most of Nigerian cuisine based on non-vegetarian stuff, the week-long stay there turned out to be a big irritant for him.
In fact, his foreign sojourn early this month was nothing short of a nightmare. Rohani was away from the country for a week in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, attending the 52nd Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) plenary conference in the first week of this month.
Sharing his bitter experience, Rohani told the Hindustan Times that despite his request in advance, no vegetarian food was arranged for him at the hotel he had checked in. Request to arrange food to the hotel management elicited no positive response.
“I learnt there that most of Nigerian cuisines contain chicken, meat and fish,” he recalled. Checking menu for vegetarian items in vain, he ordered for rice and had some bread.
However, he was not sure if the rice was pure veg as Nigerians mix meat and fish with rice too. Hence, he had to be extra vigilant to ensure that he was served rice only.
He had a brief respite from the week-long ordeal when an Indian family invited him over a vegetarian lunch. “The ordeal had begun from London airport. Security personnel did not allow me to move for six hours who seemed to be much panicky with 9/11 anniversary round the corner. They made me take off shoes and remove the belt for checking.”
On way back to India, the Speaker was not allowed to carry an attractive umbrella he was gifted. “I visited London, Paris, Zurich and Abuja but wistfully yearned to return. I wished I had wings to fly back to India after spending a week,” he said.