I stayed at a tasteful hotel in Moscow where there are three hotels in a row called Alpha, Beta and Gamma. It so happened that I had decided to stay in the hotel while spending a week in Moscow. In the lobby, I started chatting to a Pakistani tourist who was sitting opposite me on a broad sofa. “Hello, I am Ahmed from Karachi in Pakistan. I have a huge marble trading business there. Originally, we were from India. We are Rajputs, you know, from Rajasthan in India.” I looked towards him and then glanced at my mobile phone as I was Googling something. “You Pakistani, I am sure you can speak in Urdu. How are you then from India and your forefathers where Rajputs?” I was amazed and got pinned to his chat. “Yes sir, Pakistan is great. I also enjoy travelling a lot. I have been to over 20 countries last month. I was in Singapore and also in Cambodia.”
I started chatting about the politics in Pakistan and how strong Imran Khan was as a leader and a prospective Prime Minister. “Well, Imran, he is all show and glamour. It is true that his party Tehreek-e-Insaf has a lot of young following. The young are its biggest supporters. Nawaz Sharif is the King of Punjab. He has a huge base there and a lot of traders and big businessmen support him. The elites are with him and people see him as more mature and calm. Imran Khan is seen as too emotional and fiery. He is so pumped up that, at times, it seems he will hurt his own chances.” He had analysed the political landscape in Pakistan brilliantly. “But of course, you cannot keep the PPP and the Zardaris and Bhutto away at bay so easily. They rule Sindh and have been in power before, so they have experience on their side. Benazir’s son has also launched his political career in Pakistan as well and has been seen giving many fiery speeches against India”. Ahmed looked like a confident South Asian man in his mid-thirties. We wandered out of the hotel for a walk around the marketplace and street eaters just in front of our hotel. “I used to be a Bollywood actor and have acted with Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Imraan Hashmi. I used to do a lot of advertisements and was a known face on Indian Television.” My Pakistani friend got curious. “I like Irrfan Khan and K.K. Menon and, of course, Aamir Khan, he is top class,” he said excitedly. “You just have to see their struggle yaar. This actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has got famous only now has been struggling in Bollywood for twenty years. It is very tough. You need a lot of patience.” I became nostalgic while I was telling Ahmed about my Bollywood days. We decided to have a plate of lamb shahlik and khaboos bread with a can of coke each.
I turned around from my meal and saw Ahmed venture into a local shop to buy knick-knacks and t-shirts. We decided to venture out at night to see Moscow but that was not to be and our Indo-Pak meet had to end abruptly with a handshake.