I am sorry that Mr. Pratapsingh Rane has lost his chief minister's job. I had met him a few times and found him to be a pleasant, affable man, not given to political histrionics. A more laid-back version of Mr. Sharad Pawar, though Mr. Pawar himself is quite laid-back.
On two occasions I met him in Goa, by appointment, both the times accompanied by Mario De Miranda of Luotlim. Mr. Miranda, of course, is more laid-back than anybody I know, though in spite of that he does produce a vast volume of work, week after week.
However, Mr. De Miranda being what he is at 10 a.m. the time fixed for the meeting by Mr. Karapurkar, the Goa government's press officer, loved by hundreds of Bombay journalists who have visited Goa and enjoyed his hospitality, we were still at Mario's country estate.
I remember the scene distinctly, we were siting in the open patio, which forms the centrepiece of his stately manor, having village eggs with the gotli bread and tea. We were also working away the hangover acquired the previous night at Marquis Bar.
I was a little edgy. You don't keep chief ministers waiting. And it was going to be a long wait for the chief minister, if he was going to wait, considering the distance we would have to travel to reach Panaji and the ferry we would have to cross at the some place. Half, the rivers in Goa, you have to cross by ferries, and, when they build a bridge, it collapses and you once again cross by ferry. But then ferry-crossings are among the pleasures-of Goa.
By the time we set out fro Panaji, the sun was high above the palm trees and the day's second tide was rolling in from the sea.
But our taxi-drvier was good and fast, though may not be particularly safe. He was a gentleman known as Kopit, in all of Bardez, or is it Salsette. Kopit in Konkani (or is it Portuguese?) means a small peg. And he was known as Kopit, because he drank his feni only in small pegs, though he drank them all through his long day.
In any case, we roared through Salsette-Bardez, sending poultry fluttering for safety as we sped through villages, and arrived at Altim, which is where Mr. Rane was staying. The place is on a hill above Panaji and has an excellent view of the capital, though the house itself is not particularly impressive.
We were hurried through to Mr. Rane, who was actually waiting for us. He looked at his watch shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and we settled down to the meeting. I remember all this because he must be the only chief minister in Indian who waits for his visitor. Normally, you have to wait for the chief minister.