More than 30 years ago, I went on an All-India Tour availing leave travel concession provided by my office. It was a 23-day bus-trip from Madurai to Srinagar and back via some of the beautiful places of India, some of which I was seeing for the first and probably the last time. (Kancheepuram, Tiruttani, Kalahasti, Nellore, Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Jammu, Srinagar, Verinag, Delhi, Agra, Faridabad, Lucknow, Nasik, Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur and Bangalore. Unfortunately, I did not have the sense to take journal with me and jot down my impressions of the trip on a daily basis. All I now have is a few photographs. This is one such photograph. This was taken at the Residence of the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Morarji Desai. It was early morning and there were a lot of visitors like us. Each group was asked to sit and wait for the PM. There were security staff all around and some official photographers also. Probably it was a year or two after the emergency, when the coalition govt led by Shri Morarji Desai was in power.
I did not know that the PM was standing right behind me and I was being photographed. I was joking with a neighbour, when the photo was taken. The PM was so close to me. Between me and the PM, a guy whose name I have forgoteen was there (probably he was on his knees to get a prominent place in the photo). He was one of the servants employed by the travel agents for attending to odd jobs. I do remember the name of the travel agents now; it is M/s.Kumaran Travels, Madurai. The photo reached the travel agent’s office at Madurai even before we reached there. On my arrival, my father commented about the photo and showed it to me. Then only I saw it. As you can see, I was all teeth!
From the PM’s residence, we were taken to visit Smt.Indira Gandhi’s residence also. She was then out of power. But still she was popular with the masses, especially South Indians. There were also security arrangements but there was no official photographer. So we had hired one and have taken him with us. We waited for some time. Then she came and talked to our Manager and enquired about the places we visited. Then she posed with our group for the photo. Our useless, stupid photographer clicked twice or thrice. But the camera was not working. The stupid fellow was wasting her time. Then she said ‘sorry’ with a smiling face and left our group.