This was during my Indian Express days in the mid-seventies. I missed a Minister’s press meet and was frantically trying to make amends by meeting him.
I was pretty tense and agitated when I was ushered into his room.
Lukalapu Lakshmana Das (that was his name) smiled at me and got down to his job. In my anxiety to take notes, I hurriedly opened the pen. The nib, the tongue and the holder got stuck in the cap and out flew ink right on his face and on the spotless white Pondur (he hailed from Srikakulam district famous for this variety) khadi shirt.
I visualized the Minister hitting the roof, ordering his security men to bundle me out and screaming at me, ‘get out, you fool.’ Instead, he waved aside my feverish apologies, wiped the ink off his face and continued with the briefing.
Years later, he had suffered severe loss of memory and disappeared from his home in Srikakulam. He had aimlessly walked into a police station where the sub-inspector recognized the former minister who was unkempt and in tattered clothes.
Post-script: This is again about missed conference but with comic result. F.S. Nariman (or is it Soli Sorabjee, can’t remember at this point of time. Both are Parsis and were Attorney Generals of India (at different times) and had delivered keynote address to a conference at the Administrative Staff College of India, Bella Vista. The meeting was over when we (my chief and me) reached. We were relieved to know that the dignitary was staying in the same premises. The eminent jurist gave us tea and a detailed briefing. My boss was overjoyed. As he saw us off at the door, the urbane host said ‘sorry gentlemen for receiving you in this state of undress.’ He was referring to the long overcoat in which he wrapped himself. ‘Our pleasure, sir, our pleasure,’ my boss muttered as the amused Constitution expert closed the door behind him.
Dasu Kesava Rao is a seasoned journalist who has worked, among several newspapers, with The Hindu and served as its Bureau Chief in Hyderabad.