The Famous 7
Ever wondered at the way our leaders meet at the UN and get really intimate,backslapping and indulging in general locker-room behaviour. The sworn foes who deliver near hysterical hate rhetoric at home cozy up while on a junket. A sure case of politics making strange bedfellows, but missed. After all, it doesn´t make the headlines like Clinton shaking hands with Castro or Lazio grabbing Arafat, but then its happening. After the recent Millennium Summit, I just couldn´t take it any more. Called up this lady who´s on Interpol´s most wanted list. "What´s up with these jokers? Am I missing something here?" I asked. "Well, this is one of the many cans that the journos haven´t pried open. Will you take me on a holiday to Kerala this winter?" she bargained like one of those sold out to the latest best-seller destination.
After I made an indifferent promise, she gave me a mole´s account of a recent bash, held at a nondescript fishing village on the Saurashtra coast. "It was all drunken revelry. I would even call it conspiratorial foreplay." The real agenda, she said, was to get Clinton to expand his definition of the "most dangerous place on earth" to cover the entire Subcontinent and then apportion parts of the region to MNCs for ´care-taking´.
The night was as black as it could get. In the salty wasteland, only the gaggle of alcoholic mirth broke the night´s stillness. The SAARC rendezvous was taking place at a top-secret location. While the region slept, these guys and girls met to finally bury the misery of SAARC and give it away to the best bidder. But before business, it was pleasure.
Vajpayee and Musharraf sat growling at each other in the best canine tradition. Like they say, you can take the politician out of the country, but you can´t take the pit bull out of the politician. A tipsy Jigme was trying to convince Koirala that there were serious "metholodigical" flaws in the Nepali enumeration of Bhutanese refugees, said to total 100 million. "My dear friend, it was only a stip of the lung," explained a slurring Koirala. His biographers may note that it was a rare slip from a leader with an otherwise impeccable PR record.
Vajpayee and Musharraf were now going strong. India´s poet-prime minister and master of nonsense verse broke into a choice couplet about Pakistan being a noisome neighbourhood bowwow, Musharraf, having heard it already at New York, and unable to stomach a repeat, aimed a barrack kick into the prime ministerial knee. Vajpayee yelped and had to be carried off for a painkiller shot. Gayoom laughed into his drink and sputtered away looking for a corner to let out.
Mohammed Ali, Pakistani fisherman once jailed for illegally entering Indian waters, kept up a steady supply of fried pomphret. It is said that Ali did pomphrets the way pomphrets liked to be done. This delicacy was
washed down with a few pitchers of toddy bled from the scraggly date palms that litter the coastline. Sheikh Hasina religiously abstained. She kept looking out of the window, between bites of pomphret and a constant mumble of "it doesn´t beat the Hilsha". "She is so used to looking out at the hartals," explained an MNC aide. "It leaves her with the mixed feeling of being both wanted, and unwanted."
Musharraf kept up a steady gaze at Chandrika, interpreting her vacuous stare for an invite. Vajpayee, the most eligible bachelor in the Subcontinent, was trying to court her by reciting some couplets that the lady just couldn´t figure. Chandrika couldn´t be bothered either way. Tipsy from the wine and a shot of arrack, she was seeing visions of having personally led a force into the North that brought the LTTE to its knees. She was now riding triumphant into Colombo, into a tumultuous ticker tape parade and the reverberating chants of a million Buddhist monks.
"I love your company guys," said Gayoom. "You attract world attention like a dung heap attracts flies." The distance from the mainland allowed him this detached perspective. "Stop being SAARcastic," quipped Vajpayee the chronic punster, nursing his knee and waiting for the applause. "If you don´t, we´ll step up our production of greenhouse gases till you get that sinking feeling." The MNC big boys by now had an inkling of what they were getting into.