The National Treasure

Rickie Khosla is one of the brightest and inarguably the wickedest in Indian blogosphere. On his blog he offers coleslaw that is crisp, whisked with meaningful contemplations and peppers it with humour that’s always spot on.  He articulates about life, people, media, politics and claims to be a Bollywood aficionado, but I suspect he watches Hindi flicks so that he can tear them apart. Read his last post to know what I’m talking about.

Of late Rickie Khosla, Prince of Gobargaon has been eavesdropping in the corridors of the high and mighty and has come up with this priceless scoop!

Presenting *insert drumrolls*

                                                                The National Treasure

“This is a disaster!” yells Sonia Gandhi as she facepalms her forehead uncharacteristically. “How could we even let this happen?”

The emergency (yet hidden from the media’s prying eyes) political meeting is taking place at the lawns of Sheila Dixit’s official residence in Delhi. The bright winter sun is warm but doing little to dispel the frosty ambience of the congregation. The news that had been received by the PMO just that morning has pulled the rug from under the political establishment’s feet. “It can’t be true!”, “The media must not find out about this!” and “What will Maya and Mulayam do now?” are the universal exclamations in the corridors of power. (As is “How come Urvashi won Bigg Boss?” but that is off-topic for this post.) Mamata Banerji and Narendra Modi have already rushed to Delhi as they are prone to do under such circumstances. So have most other leaders. All except Jayalalitha, who decides to stay put in Chennai under the perceived threat of a snub. 

As the perfectly attired waiters with starched pagdees discreetly serve cream of mushroom soup and assorted nibblers, the political class furiously debates ways to help abate the latest crisis – the imminent loss of a national treasure to an adversarial nation.

Kapil Sibal : But she hasn’t signed the papers yet…

Sushma Swaraj : (shaking her head in acute sadness) But it’s just a matter of time before she does. I vow to shave my head in shame when it happens…

P.Chidambaram : Perhaps the information RAW has is wrong…? Maybe they tapped the wrong person’s phone. There could be many people in that city with the same name, right? It’s a fairly common name, I think.

Pranab Mukherji : (in heavily accented Bangla, or perhaps it is English?) Bhell, honly in Kolkota.

A.K. Anthony : She is the only one there. Actually, even the ISI has indirectly corroborated the news. They threw a big party at their HQ last night. Pitying us on our plight, I’m sure!

L.K.Advani : (shaking fist) Monsters!

Uddhav Thackaray : Thank God she hasn’t moved to Pakistan!

Everyone giggles, but they soon stop. It is simply too painful to joke about what is happening.

More so than anybody, the news has upset Madam Gandhi the most. It means that one more has flown the coop for good. All the bright ones are leaving, she thinks. She wonders about her old apartment in Milan and what it would be like to leave but quickly banishes such thoughts from her mind. Bringing her focus back to the sad old faces seated around her, she demands an explanation yet again but none has any. Uncomfortable silence prevails for several minutes. Sheila-ji offers to break the awful hush by politely mumbling about another round of soup for everyone but is quickly glared into submission by Manmohan-ji through his Coke bottle glasses. The others in assembly dare not look above their potbellies or the soiled napkins in their hands.

Sonia Gandhi : This is your fault. BOTH of you are idiots! Shouldn’t we have done more to lure her back?

Both Sheila-ji and her partner-in-crime look crestfallen.

Sonia Gandhi : First you let her leave, and now this. Do you know what this means? It means she is never coming back now! Never! We have lost a national treasure. She is the BEST in the business! Have you ever read what the others write? It’s ALL GARBAGE!

Sheila Dixit : (sheepishly) But maybe despite this she will still return…?

Sonia Gandhi : What for? How do you imagine that?

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : Maybe she won’t like it there after a while…? They say ‘crikey’ too much…And they are always drunk too. Hooligans!

Sheila Dixit : (adding usefully) And their vegemite! So terrible it is…My son brought…

Sonia Gandhi : (yelling in interruption) WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO TALKING ABOUT? Don’t you know that once you have flown Qantas or held a koala in your arms, THERE IS NO GOING BACK!! It’s the POINT OF NO RETURN! And she has probably done both by now. Multiple times!

Sheila-ji sheds a silent tear.

Sonia Gandhi : (suddenly,and excitedly) Let’s call her! Maybe if we beseech her to return, she will come back.

Rahul Gandhi : (cheerfully) Yes, Madre, that is a bellissimo idea! Only you could have thought of it!

Sonia Gandhi : What do you think, Manmohan-ji? Blink once if you agree.

The requisite number is blinked.

Sheila-ji’s landline phone quickly becomes the cynosure of all eyes in the gathering. The speaker option is enabled and an international number starting with country code “61” is dialed.

Purba Ray : G’Day!

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : Hello, Purbaji?

Purba Ray : Yes, this is Purba. (Partly covers mouthpiece to speak with someone with her) Bolte parchi na. Sounds like that Rohtak wale Batra uncle of yours. (Uncovers mouthpiece to resume conversation with the caller) Who is it?

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : This is Hooda speaking.

Purba Ray : (thinking hard) Hooda...? Hooda…who…? Oh, Hooda! Wow, what a surprise! I am such a big fan of yours!

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : You are?

Purba Ray : (excitedly) Yes, Saahib, Biwi Aur Gangster is one of my favourite films! Though I must say, on the phone you sound nothing like you do on screen! You sound…mature.

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : (coughs) Hein?

Purba Ray : You are Randeep Hooda, aren’t you?

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : No, no, this is Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Chief Minister of Haryana.

Purba Ray : (silence)

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Hello, are you there?

Purba Ray : (speaking slowly, very surprised) Yes, I am. Sorry, I was not expecting a call from you. I am quite shocked actually! What is this about?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : We have a very humble request to you. Please come back!

Purba Ray : (sounds ever more surprised) Come back? Where? Back to Gurgaon?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Yes, Gurgaon, Delhi…wherever you please! In fact, even Sheila Dixit-ji is with me on the phone. (Looks at Sheila-ji and urges her to speak)

Sheila Dixit : (speaks loudly into the phone) Hello, beta, how are you?

Sonia Gandhi rolls her eyes in disbelief.

Purba Ray : Errm…I am doing well…errm…How are you…errm…aunty?

Sheila Dixit : I am well, too. But beta, iss baar thand bohot padi hai idhar. Heater se bhi kaam nahi…

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : (quickly interrupting) Ok, let’s get back to the reason why we have called you. So, we have recently discovered that you are thinking about acquiring Australian citizenship.

Purba Ray : Australian citizenship? What are you talking about? (Adds, with suspicion) How did you even find out about that?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Don’t worry about that. That’s not important.

Purba Ray : But…

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : But, the question is this. Why Australia? What do they have that we don’t?

Purba Ray : Errr…

Mamata Banerji : (unable to control herself, spurts) Don’t forget, if they have Harbour Bridge, our Kolkata has Howrah Bridge!

Purba Ray : But…

Salman Khurshid : Sydney Opera House. Lotus Temple!

Many in the gathering start clapping appreciatively looking around at each other smiling and nodding.

Ajay Makan : And the Indian cricket team under Dhoni is No. 1 in the world. What is the Australia cricket team? A big zero!

The appreciative claps come to a thudding stop.

Sushil Kumar Shinde : (chipping in usefully) Tendulkar!

A smattering of claps resumes.

Suresh Kalmadi : Sports overall, I will say. In fact, we won more Olympic medals this year than Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Burma. Combined! We are a sporting powerhouse now!

The accomplished gentry continue to look around with appreciative nods and smiles.

Manish Tiwari : Plus our Cinema! Our TV. KBC. Amit-ji!

The claps get even louder.

Purba Ray : I love all that, too. But…

Ghulam Nabi Azad : But? No ifs and buts, please. No thinking about Australian citizenship! You have to come back!

Sachin Pilot : Yes, in fact just tell us who we can send over to convince you. Just tell us! Should we send Salman or Shah Rukh to request you to come back personally? Amitabh-ji? Tell us, who is your favourite film personality?

Purba Ray : It’s Satyajit Ray, actually.

Sachin Pilot : Who is that? (Turns to Mamata Banerji) Sounds like a Bengali star…can we send him there?

Mamata Banerji : (disappointedly) He is no more…he died a decade ago…No doubt the Left Front was responsible.

Sachin Pilot : Dammit!

Purba Ray : That’s all very sweet of you, everyone. But have things improved in Gurgaon? Have they got better in India since I left?

Sheila Dixit : Of course! Have you seen our new Metro? And the Malls in Gurgaon?

Nitish Kumar : (adding helpfully) We even have malls in Patna now.

Rabri Devi nods happily but is quickly stared down by her husband Laloo Prasad.

Purba Ray : But what about the appalling infrastructure there? Women’s safety? Nirbhaya’s story has shaken the entire nation…

Sheila Dixit : (sounding angry) Yes, shame on those rapists. We will hang them and that will solve the problem of rape forever!

The appreciative claps begin again.

Purba Ray : I see. And corruption? How come Kalmadi-ji is attending this meeting? Isn’t he supposed to be in jail?

Kapil Sibal : I can promise you that after this meeting, Kalmadi is going straight back to jail. We only let him out when there are critical meetings like this to attend. Here or in London or Switzerland. So, unless he becomes President of the Indian Olympic Association again, or wins a parliamentary election, we will make sure he rots in jail.

Purba Ray : Yes, that should fix the issue of corruption for good, too…A lesson to everyone.

Several people in unison : Right!

Purba Ray : Then we wouldn’t need that Jan Lokpal Bill either?

P. Chidambaram : Oh that Mango People Party bill? Those fruit salads don’t know how to run a movement let alone a country! We will table an even better bill than the Jan Lok Pal in the next to next session of Parliament.

Sharad Pawar : (correcting quickly) Or the one after that.

Salman Khurshid : Yes, yes!

Purba Ray : I see. By the way, did you know that the streetlights in my lane in Gurgaon were always on the blink? In all the years I lived there, they never worked. Not once!

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : (looking sheepishly at Sonia Gandhi who glares back in anger) Don’t worry, we will fix them right away. As soon as I leave this meeting, I will instruct the local administration to float a tender to replace street lights in your part of Gurgaon. Once the tender is passed by early next year, everything should get better by 2015.

Hooda and Gandhi look at each other. Sonia nods appreciatively at the deft handling of Purba’s googly.

Purba Ray : I see. I guess I should say thank you…?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Oh you are welcome ji! So, you are returning to India for good then? Pakka?

Purba Ray : I have to think about it. You know, talk to my husband, my daughter, my hair stylist, maid, girl at the grocery store etc…

Kapil Sibal : Ok, how about we sweeten the deal for you? What if I send you an Aakash tablet? Imagine, it’s like a computer without a keyboard! It’s going to cause a revolution here!

Purba Ray : No, thank you, I already have an iPad.

Kapil Sibal : (not giving up) What if I send you two? Yes, yes, just tell me your address, I will send you two. No, three. We will send you three of them. Modi-ji, can you send her one of the two I sent you?

Narendra Modi quickly nods in agreement.

Purba Ray : I really don’t need it! Thank you for the offer, anyway.

Kapil Sibal : But…(is stopped by a stern look by Madam)

Purba Ray : You see, I love India and all the wonderful things you have mentioned. In fact, you missed mentioning the Taj Mahal that we built in the 1600s, the Charminar, Digboi, Gateway of India! I am sure if we all collectively think very hard, we will surely recall some world beating things we have developed in the past 10-15-20-30 years.

Sheila Dixit : (immediately adding) Like the…

Purba Ray : …Delhi Metro. Yes, we already talked about that! And like you folks also always say – T3 at Indira Gandhi airport…

Kapil Sibal : Yes, the biggest and the best airport man has ever built.

Purba Ray : Yes, of course it is.

Kapil Sibal : And despite all this, you still have to think about coming back?

Purba Ray : Unfortunately, yes! You see I have just adopted a baby koala. He is too cute! I can’t abandon him and return to India!

And just like that, it is all over. The war is lost. Sheila-ji bursts into tears. Chidambaram lifts his lungi and storms out of the premises. Manmohan-ji silently takes off his glasses to dab moist eyes. Even the stoic visage of Madam crumbles as her lower lip quivers to register defeat. And Rahul drops his head on his mother’s lap and bawls like a baby.

It is left for Bhupendra-ji to collect the pieces of a nation’s broken dream.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : (his voice quivering) A koala…

Purba Ray : Yes, we have named him Bhalloo!

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : In that case, what is left for me to say…

Purba Ray : I am sorry!

The line goes dead.

The room is silent except for Sheila-ji’s and Rahul’s sniffles. Manmohan-ji starts to say something by way of consolation but no words are forthcoming. Madam looks forlorn. But just as the men start to get up in preparation to leave, Madam’s face suddenly lights up. As if she has just had a brainwave! One member of the gathering, who had been silent thusfar, notices the change in Madam’s mood and quickly springs to her feet to draw attention.

Meira Kumar : (looking at Sheila-ji and Rahul) Aap dono shaant ho jayiye. (And to everyone else) Aap sab baith jaiye.

All eyes are on Sonia, who looks triumphant. 

Sonia Gandhi : Ok guys, I just had a great idea! What if we kidnap Bhalloo and smuggle it into India?

Meanwhile, Bhalloo is blissfully unaware of the evil conspiracy being hatched in New Delhi.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. waah waah! :D truly howlarious

  2. Ha ha ha ha ha OMG I am on the floor! Rickie this is just fab............and Purba I always knew you were a big shot!

    1. And big shots like Purba and Sonia are easy targets...hehheh...glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Engrossing, as usual... and do you really have a baby Koala at home now? If yes, there must be a fascinating stillness all around. I remember I stood near a Koala for nearly an hour in Taronga Zoo and admired the still posture it was able to adopt!

    By the way, I also laughed at the Rickie reference! :)

    Arvind Passey

    1. Perhaps the koalas have best imbibed the Aussie tradition of a laidback attitude best of all!
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Rickie is undoubtedly blessed with a funny bone. He has wrapped in almost everyone in this witty post.Come back Purba, now that Hooda ji is personally requesting.

    1. Thanks, Alka! Yep, who knows, the pervasiveness of Hooda,Sonia and Sheila might be just what Purba needs!

  5. Lovely post for you Purba :-)
    I enjoyed it so much :-)

    1. I laughed till tears rolled my cheeks :D

    2. Thanks, Bhavana! One's got to deliver their best for someone who is the best!

  6. Hilarious post! So you're a Hooda fangirl eh?

    1. Nooooo! blame Rickie's fertile imagination!

    2. Hooda Fangirl...hah! Purba, don't you have a t-shirt that says so??

  7. Wow. Really enjoyable read. Rickie as usual at his best.

  8. :-) wonderful post Rickie.

  9. Rickie - delightful delightful totally delightful ! You absolutely rock !
    Purba - ab to wapas aa jao :P

    1. I think you liked it because it is what each of us are hoping for in our hearts - for her to return!
      Glad that you enjoyed the post!

  10. Ahhahahahahahaaha ! Cool post. Plus, Rohtak got a mention !!! Although no Batra uncle that I know of......

    1. Did you notice - Purba hasn't denied the existence of a Rohtak wale Batra uncle!
      Glad you liked the post!

  11. Loved the scope that you managed to pack in. Larger than life personalities always make the task easier - such as The Purba Ray. Not so sure how the illuminated minds of those in power is allowing this coming together of minds; it spells nothing but trouble! For them in power, that is.

    1. Stop pulling my leg, you guys!

    2. This is one government project I'm sure we are all rooting for!
      Thanks fot reading, Subhorup!

  12. Super cool,Rickie! Of course, we want our Purba back home. Maybe, if they offered her dilli ka khana or an expert cook in gobargaon, she might have changed her mind ;-P.

    Purba dear, Arre yaar, idhar toh sadkon par bhediyen ghoom rahe hain. But natural, you'd prefer a koala!

    1. Shh, Rachna! Only positive news to be shared with her to trick her into returning!
      Thanks for reading!

  13. are famous. Our leaders also want you back in India :)

    1. Sigh! everyone is having fun at my expense :p

    2. I'd say more famous and more popular!
      Tthanks for reading!

  14. Oh my God, before they come over and steal Bhalloo, you could send him to me. I promise to take good care :)

    'The Prince of Gobargaon' is going to treat us all at V Spot Cafe this weekend for bagging the title :)

    Rickie, I can't wait for the book anymore;-) I am all in to proof-read, if that means I could be one of the first few people who read it!

    Love you both, the host and the guest. You both make us smile :)

    1. Thanks for reading, as always!
      Book Project - yes someday I need to restart that! You'll be among the first to know if it is ever near completion!

    2. Same here! I am all eyes to read the book as and when it happens Rickie! So so so proud of you.. **aankhon me aansu aa gaye**

      Too good...Wo kya kaha tha Rahul jee ne.. Bellissimo! :D

    3. Thank you, ji, thank you! Khushi ke aansoos are acceptable! (Now don't say - who the hell is Khushi?)

  15. Awesome Awesome Awesome Awesome

    Speechless with admiration.

    1. You are too kind! Thanks so much!

  16. Rickie,

    Where was the statutory warning in the beginning - HANSNAA MANAA HAI? So it was a riot of laughter all the way.

    Take care


    Thanks for introducing him. I will visit his blogspace soon.

    Take care

    1. Thanks so much, Jack!
      And yes, would love to have you over for a visit!

  17. Awesome writing. :) I was trying to figure out who the lady was. :) On top of everything else, the post makes me want to visit Australia. I can do the kidnaping part for you! I always wanted a pet. Whats say?

    1. Thanks for reading, Jyothi! I think we all want to visit Australia...if for nothing else, to hold Bhalloo!

  18. I had no idea that the political fraternity had tried so desperately to avert the inevitable. Thanks for sharing this hidden story Rickie. :)
    Also, now I understand why the Hooda's are going to jail one by one. Madam is really angry with them it seems because they have failed in the kidnapping bid?
    Excellent post. Loved it!

    1. Thanks for reading, Amit.
      Purba,look at the political ramifications all this is causing!

  19. Rickie - I loved it - any more words would kill the fun!
    Purba - did you see this one coming when you asked for a guest post?

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Corinne!
      I hope I totally caught Purba unawares with this post!

    2. I had absolutely no idea what was coming and when I did, I was howling with laughter :D

  20. Ultimate.That was a wonderful spoof on party politics! And Mamata's dialogue...'No doubt the Left Front was responsible'....took the cake!:D
    And please hide that li'l koala. This cuddliest joey deserves a much better outing!:))) grrrr...
    Loved it!:)

    1. Thanks for reading, Panchali! I'd say, for once the government officials seem to be working towards fulfilling the voice of the people. Even if it means illegal kidnapping from a foreign country! Hehheh

  21. Nice one Rickie. Quite a long post but enjoyed throughout :)

    1. I was worried about the length too but was hoping it would still keep the reader engaged. Thanks for reading through and glad you liked it!

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Manta blaming the left for satyajit ray's

    And Kapil sibal asking modi back for the akash tablet..sums up its pathetic status..

    Enjoyed the post.

    1. Thanks for reading...glad you enjoyed it!

  24. Purba, that was a deadly post:) Birds of the same feather flock together.. Rickie n Purba!! The interview was the most hilarious part...

    1. Thanks so much, Rahul. (Mainly because you have called Purba and me of the same feathery stock!)

  25. Enjoyed this one, Rickie! So when are you coming back to Gob...errr..Gurgaon, Purba? All the sleuthing Rickie has done trying to get the minutes of the meeting and making the tapped conversation public would go waste if you don't. And if you bring back Bhalloo, there is no need for Madam to kidnap it, see?

  26. Thanks, Zephyr! Yes, Purba, do come back...after all, we all want to see and hold Bhalloo!

  27. Rickie, I have reliably learnt that Julia (of the Gillard family) sent a decoy to lead Ms Ray to Mirch Masala, an Indian store and namkeen walla. The chaat, bhature and tikki have tickled the tongue of the starved-for-indian-snacks Ms Ray no end, and likely to make her NOT miss the great Bharat even more. Gol gappas are the only hitch at this time, but I am sure Julia-ji will import sulphur-laden Yamuna water to fix that.

    1. Oh dear! Australia is upping the ante! Just a matter of time before Purba takes a liking to their new masala-vegemite too! I hear Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman are already taking Bollywood dancing lessons.
      I hope Hooda has some real plans to get our Helena back. I heard they were working on a giant wooden elephant to gift to our 'friends' in Brisbane. The Hapur Haathi should be coming your way soon!

  28. LOL...just a koala...we have desi monkey and pigeons here...plz come back

    1. I figured she might have acquired Australian tastes already, hence the koala! Look how everyone is pleading for your return, Purba!

      Thanks for reading.

  29. Not just wicked, he is brave and bold too! No names...kudos!

    1. Just a matter of time before the police come knocking at my door!
      Thanks for reading, Prateek!


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