Madras Week just got over and the Chief was all over the place, now attending talks, now talking, now getting talked to and always being talked about. The general opinion was that the Chief was simultaneously in several places and when asked as to how he managed, all that The Man from Madras Musings could say was that doppelgangers helped.

MMM too got invited and among the places he went to speak was a dinner where several consular staff were in attendance. Chief among these was the senior consul himself, and the man was seriously jet-lagged. Thus right through MMM’s speech he(that is the consul and not MMM) dozed but being a true diplomat he managed to keep a fixed smile on his face even as his eyes were shut completely. The general picture was of a listener in rapt attention but MMM who knows how vicious jet lag can be, was sympathetic and understood.

The man awoke with a start at periodic intervals, his slumbers largely interrupted when the audience guffawed or clapped. And then when it was all over and MMM had shuffled off stage, he (the consul, in case you are still awake at this stage in the column and wondering as to who MMM meant), bounded forward with extended hand, beamed at MMM and congratulated him (MMM) on the wonderful talk that he (the consul) had so enjoyed.

It was then the consul’s turn at the podium. He got on to stage, held the mike, beamed at everyone and then said that he was delighted that he was in Islamabad. There was a deathly silence, the kind that you experience in Trappist monasteries and then everyone began to talk at once, no doubt in the hope that the rest of the audience had not heard. It took quite a while for the tumult to die down. The consul had by then recovered and turning a bright cerise apologised and moved on to other things. But to MMM it was clearly the highlight of the evening. Imagine if this had been Delhi Day instead of Madras Week. We could have had a diplomatic incident. It is high time diplomats had a sleeping allowance.