On his return from a recent trip to London, Maharashtra home minister, RR Patil was seen in a three-piece suit and speaking, as the term goes, 'fluent English'. The security at the VIP gate stopped the car carrying the passenger in the trim suit. Asked to identify himself, the passenger snapped, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain."
As the security personnel gasped, the visitor spotted a bureaucrat. "Call him. He is my GPG, Gentleman's Personal Gentleman." Summoned to the car, the babu looked at the visitor, rubbed his eyes and told the security, "How could you stop this car? He is RR Patil, the home minister, just back from London!"
On the way to his office room, Patil peeped into the room of his cabinet colleague, Chhagan Bhujbal, exclaiming, "Hullo, ol' boy! How are you? The rain in Spain always falls on the plain." Bhujbal was puzzled. "The rain is over here and it is hot. But it did not rain properly in and around Nashik. The onion crop was affected but we in the Nationalist Congress Party still managed to have the ban on onion exports lifted. Even to your Spain."
"Unfortunate," exclaimed Patil. "Perhaps, we should go easy on steak and onions for which I developed a taste in Ole' Blighty. By the by, is the old boy in? I mean the CM?" "Not yet," replied Bhujbal. "According to the media, he is attending to his mother-in-law who has a bad back. All the government hospital nurses were called to treat her."
Patil became thoughtful. "David - that's David Cameron - would never do a thing like that! All the nurses in Mumbai can't cure a little back," he murmured. "That is Shakespeare," he told Bhujbal.
Preceded by his GPG, Patil entered his room to be welcomed by his staff with garlands. Accepting all this, he moved towards the snacks table, which had poha and vada pav displayed on it. Patil sniffed in disdain. "What is all this? Not proper high tea at all! We should have buttered scones, cucumber sandwiches, seed cakes and fish and chips. I can't survive on this desi food!" "Sir, I will inform the canteen," the GPG replied.
"Perhaps we should organise pub lunches in Mantralaya like they do in Westminster," went on Patil. "By the way, I am hosting a dinner for my party blokes tomorrow. Two or three items are a must: steak and kidney pie, leg of lamb with all trimmings, and for dessert, roly-poly pudding with lots of jam. Contact the British consulate. They may have chefs to make these dishes."
"Sir, you've changed a lot after your visit to London," the GPG pointed out.
"That is life," RR retorted. "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. We have our exits and entrances, from the Congress to the NCP, from the NCP to the Shiv Sena, from the Sena to the BJP, from the BJP to the Congress... How are the Bobbies getting along?" "Bobbies?" The GPG was at his wit's end.
"The police!" said Patil. "The London Bobbies are impressive, not like our pandu havaldars. Let us change their uniforms and make them look like London's Bobbies. The bulletproof vests can wait."
V Gangadhar is a Mumbai-based writer. The views expressed by the author are personal.