Wednesday, October 18, 2006

M C Chagla's Guests at Raj Bhavan

Roses in December is the autobiography of M C Chagla, a great lawyer, and the first Indian Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, who took office on 15 August, 1947. He later was also the Acting Governor of Maharashtra. During that tenure, those were the days of Hindi-Chini Bhai-bhai; China had not yet been admitted as member of the UN and Chou En-lai, the Prime Minister of China under Mao, was one of the guests of Mr Chagla at Raj Bhavan. Mr Chagla writes that during a discussion on international relations, he told Mr Chagla that

"China was not going to beg or go down on her knees for admission to the United Nations. He said, a time would come when the world would want China to come into the World Organization, and China could well afford to wait until that time".
Prophetic words, indeed!

Another guest was the Dalai Lama of TIbet. As host, he received two instructions from Delhi about the visit. One, that the Dalai Lama was a strict vegetarian and two, if possible, women should not be invited to the state banquet. Mr Chagla ignored the second instruction and ensured that Mrs Chagla and some other ladies was present at the dinner, but overriding protocol, instead of her sitting next to the Dalai Lama, he himself sat there. As for the first instruction, a vegetarian thali meal was served. The rest is quoted verbatim.
"There was a surprise from an unexpected direction. The next morning, my ADC came to me and unbelievingly told me what the Dalai Lama wanted for breakfast. Apparently the Dalai Lama had asked for kidney and sausages. So much for Delhi's knowledge about the culinary habits and tastes of important visitors."

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