Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Feast of Thoughts

My lunch and dinner today in Washington DC were not only delightful to the palate, but also satisfying to the mind. At a lunch at the Bombay Palace restaurant on K street, courtesy Mr. Baburaj Stephen, I had for company, apart from Mr.Stephen, former Congressman Stephen Solarz and Prof. Bruce Robertson of the Foreign Service Institute. Steve was his usual self, full of machine gun fire questions, this time on the India US nuclear deal. He had his own theories, all in favour of India. Bruce too showed great interest in the issue and I gave them a preview of my comments to be made at the Stimson Centre on Dec 7. We had no violent disagreements and we agreed that we needed to keep our fingers crossed. An interesting coinage that I heard from Steve was "Nothing succeeds like successors!" We exchanged some Soviet jokes over dessert.

The former US Ambassador to the IAEA, Mr. Ken Brill, who is now one of the deputies of the Intelligence Czar, Ambassador Negroponte, took me to his lovely home in Bethesda, not far from my old home there for a delightful dinner with his wife, Mary and two senior US diplomats with record of service in India.Interestingly, one of them was working till recently on tsunami and the other is currently working on the bird flu. It is anazing that the State Department does the co-ordination of these international efforts. In India, the nodal Ministries will jump in with hardly any input from the Foreign Office. The bird flu was being watched very carefully and it turned out that major decisions would have to be taken within days. India apparently would be in danger from migratory birds, when they start arriving there.

We reminisced over India, the IFS collegues they knew and, of course, Vienna. The dinner was lovely and the conversation was a feast.

As it happens, the Aspen Group led by Ambassador Naresh Chandra is in town. The group had a meeting with Senator Lugar, who made it clear that there was no chance of the nuclear deal being implemented before the President's visit to India in February 2006.

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