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   The world may be divided into two classes... (October 31, 1991)

The world may be divided into two classes: people who are always smiling and people who never smile.

Mr. Narasimha Rao never smiles. He sits there like a jowly old hound dog, cheeks falling over one another, jaw sagging, brows furrowed, looking like he was the cares of the whole nation on his shoulders. Which he has. Not even when he was made prime minister, bu party and national consensus, was there a triumphant flicker of a smile on his face. But in spite of his face, he is not a depressed grumpy man. He is a practical person. No other prime minister in India's history would have opened full and friendly relations with South Africa with the alacrity that he has done.

Mr. V.P. Singh smiles. But it is a glazed smile, it plays around his lips, but it never enters his eyes. So you may say: he half smiles.

Mr. Sharad Pawar always smiles. The smile is a part of his moonfaced, one of those trick drawings that children do, you arch the lips one way and you see the face smilling, you arch them the opposite way and you see it scowling. The day he becomes the prime minister, he will have the biggest smile ever, and I will smile with him.

Mr. Chandra Shekhar's smile is a grunt. His scowl is also a grunt. Only those very close to him know when he is smiling and when he is annoyed. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi had a lovely smile, he smiled with his whole being, his eyes, his complexion, his voice, his youth. The smile was his greatest asset. It made up for his wife's scowl. It is indeed strange that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, who lived with him and was so close to him. The daughter, I think, has taken after the mother, though I am saying this only from a few pictures of her that I have seen.

Mr. Bal Thackeray does not smile. In any case, cartoonists and other humourists, including humour writers and circus clowns, who make others smile and laugh, are know to be nonsmokers themselves. R.K. Laxman and Mario Miranda are exceptions, but the only two that I know of in the whole wide world.

Mr. Murli Deora smiles all the time. He also giggles. Mr. Sunil Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan do not smiles. Mr. Dev Anand smiles that has kept him perennially young. Mr. Rajesh Khanna does not smile, though I am sure, if the script demanded, he could put up a very dazzling smile. About his political rival, Mr. Shatrughan Sinha, I cannot decide whether he smiles or not. He has a good sense of hunour, his repartee is outstanding, but I do not know whether he himself smiles.

I could go on. But it is 9 o'clock on Thursday morning, time to stop smiling and start working.

 
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