Naahti dhoti reh gyi, muh te makkhi beh gayi! Loosely translated, this Punjabi proverb talks of a woman who is all decked up for an occasion before a party-pooping housefly sits on her face and spoils the make-up.
Like all good proverbs, this one too is best understood in the vernacular, but nothing in the Queen's Language could come even remotely close to describing what has happened to the around 50 members of Patiala's self-proclaimed elite, who have been denied the chance to visit the US for a wedding in the family of moneybag cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra.
Their visa applications having been rejected by the American embassy, the royal town's 'high gentry', which includes councillors, former legislators and some top cops, will not be able to attend the August 11 marriage ceremony of Rakhra's niece in Wisconsin, where chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and deputy Sukhbir Badal and several cabinet ministers will be present.
Samana MLA Rakhra and his family have a multi-million dollar business in the US, and have planned boarding, lodging, a series of lavish parties, and sight-seeing tours for the attendees.
The US embassy has so far cancelled nearly four dozen visas applied on the basis of the wedding invitation card sent to the protégés by Rakhra.
"About a fortnight ago, over 30 people, including me, had applied for the visa," said Balbir Kharud, a councilor, "But they rejected all us, even when cabinet minister Sharanjit Dhillon got a visa on the basis of the same invitation card. I am surprised. All our plans to see the US and attend such a huge function have been dashed."
Sources said the ministers have the backing of formal government letters for visa.
Tarlochan Rakhra; Inderjit Singh, who is the sarpanch of the village Rakhra; and Surjit Singh Ablowal, a close confident of Rakhra, are also part of the dejected lot, which includes at least three senior officials from the Patiala police range. The Rakhra family has invited nearly 100 people from Punjab.