Saturday, March 24, 2007

Close encounters of the politico kind

I was at Khan Market this morning, dallying, mostly (and looking for a new pair of jeans, a quest that sadly went unrequited), when I noticed that a new store had opened: Good Earth.

I peeped curiously through the darkened windows, lingering a bit and wondering whether I could get a free glass of champagne or something if I entered -- garlands were strewn all around, and it was apparently the grand opening. I hemmed, hawed, contemplated, and ultimately decided not to be presumptuous -- when who walks out but the Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit.

OK, so she's not exactly a celebrity, but she is an immensely powerful and influential woman. She was wearing a khaki silk sari, and she looked much as she looks in her pictures; she wasn't doused in makeup or drizzled in gold, just a normal woman, escorted by several security men and a glistening Amby. For some reason, I wanted to ask her for her autograph.

I didn't. But I was awed by her presence, for better or for worse. However, it does beg the question: Why is she spending her time gracing the opening of posh stores, rather than helping alleviate widespread poverty, etc.? Granted, you can't be on all the time, but why are high-end home furnishings more important than highlighting the importance of, for example, eliminating tuberculosis or securing a safe water supply for all Delhiites? (I cite these examples because earlier this week there was an emphasis on both in the newspapers, presumably, for example, because it was World Water Day.) I don't envy politicians, in that they have to flatter a variety of stakeholders, but can't her support extend beyond token appearances?

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