Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Inside the President's bachelor pad

Well, one can certainly visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan if one has the right connections. My mom knows one of the President's men and last Friday we (mom, dad, moi) ended up visiting Dr Kalam's residence.

The scientist-president was in Myanmar at the time - a blessing in disguise as security personnel didn't pay too much attention to us except for the usual metal detector rigmarole.

A man took us on a guided tour of a few of the 350 rooms the gigantic mansion contains - statues galore, carpeted walkways - making sure we appreciated every inch of its regal splendour.

"Someone broke the original chandelier in the Durbar Hall. This one's a replacement," our guide tells us in an aside.

The museum, full of marble busts and portraits and gifts, was a special delight and so was the view of the Mughal Gardens from inside the President's dining hall.

Our docent even demonstrated the system of three buttons used for ceremonial dinners - to signal the end of a course, time to clear up and ...I forget what the third one was for.

We visit the Children's Gallery (a new addition mooted by Kalam himself) and get a 3D sketch of ourselves. We even stopped for tea in a room in the Guest Wing (I am a tea-hater myself but even I couldn't resist drinking some Presidential Tea)

I wish I could be President - if only to be master of Rashtrapati Bhavan, a mini-city in itself. For God's sake! The place even has its own cinema theatre. Knowing Kalam, I wouldn't be too surprised if he's hiding a laboratory somewhere in the basement.

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