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Idlis at PV Narasimha Rao’s Delhi Residence

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      (MR Anand)
I am a VIP (Very Insignificant Person). If I tell you there was a day when the late Narasimha Rao drove me in his Premier Padmini car to the Delhi Railway Station you will not believe me. But it is true. In December 1978 I received a letter from the Punjab & Sind Bank asking me to appear for an interview for the post of a clerk in Delhi. I was just out of college. I had never travelled beyond the Tamil Nadu border. The only language I knew apart from English was Tamil. I was in a fix. We had no friends or relatives in Delhi. Everyone at home asked me not to go. But I was not prepared to forgo the God-sent opportunity.
As I was racking my brains, an idea flashed through my mind. Why not seek the help of some Congress MP or leader? I chose to approach a Congress leader as the party was not in power at that time and its leaders were accessible.

I wrote a flowery letter to Narasimha Rao asking him audaciously if I could stay in his house for a day or two in Delhi for attending an interview for a job I needed very badly. To my utter disbelief he replied positively. At the Delhi station an autowala somehow understood what I said in English and dropped me at
99 Shahjahan Road. Narasimha Rao Garu himself opened the door when I rang the bell apprehensively. He was cordial without smiling. He showed me a bath-attached room. “Have your bath and go to the dining table. Your breakfast is ready.” I was tongue-tied. As I sat next to him and ate idlis shyly he enquired about the interview. Turning to his Malayalee cook he said, “Take good care of this boy. For lunch, make the dishes he likes.”

I was more than touched. The next day the interview went well. The would-be PM returned late that night. I was awake reading some magazine in the visitor’s hall. “How was the interview?” he asked. “I did well, sir,” I replied. “When do you want to go back?” “Tomorrow by GT, sir.” “Have you got the ticket?” “No, sir”. “No problem, I will get you the ticket.”

The following morning, he got me a confirmed ticket for the day’s evening train. Handing over the ticket he said, “Wait for me. I will be back by six to drop you at the station.” He drove his car deftly and silently. I sat next to him wondering how on earth I was going to express my gratitude to him adequately. On reaching the station I got out and tried to touch his feet. He stopped me. Before parting he said, “I have something to tell you … Always write and speak simple English.” I am following his advice to this very day.

(From The New Indian Express )

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