Rahul Gandhi on his secret visit to Uttar Pradesh may have annoyed Chief Minister Mayawati but we cool-hunters got an unexpected new style icon this week in the form of our favourite incognito prince. A memo to all lifestyle brethren for the future coverage of the Sabyasachi Mukherjee of the political world.

  1. You may know that millions of people in this country bathe in the open but don’t let your reader catch on that you know. Punctuation is key to this process of exoticising. Please enclose the phrase handpump bath within quotation marks so that the bathroom fixture stores across the country are thronged with those seeking handpumps and ‘vardiwallas’ to operate it.
  1. Regardless of the wordcount allotted to you remember to work into your front page copy that Gandhi is fair and wore a white towel. Sub-editors will be amazed at your prescience when (like when Clark Gable showed his undershirt in It Happened One Night) the sales of white towels shoot through the roof.
  1. If one day you hope to write two page essays on Vietnamese-French sushi in Goa you must learn to today invest with élan all your prose about familiar food. Don’t skip lightly over the meals you know Gandhi consumed in dismal surroundngs. Detail out that he ate ‘pooris’ with a vegetable dish or that he had a cup of tea and biscuits. Extra points if you can work in the condiments used and if they require italics.
  1. As a lifestyle reporter it must be your job to create and anticipate trends. You should have been able to spot that after the UP trip, the Kashmiri Gujjars would offer to feed Gandhi ‘'makki ki roti' (corn flour bread), 'mirchi' (chillies), 'makhan' (butter) and other specialities’. If you are a rookie and you have failed in this task, quickly make a few calls to far-flung ethnic communities and ask them what they would feed Gandhi if he visited their ‘sleepy village’ or ‘remote hamlet’.
  1. England is full of noble homes whose sole claim to fame is that that they once housed Bonnie Prince Charlie or Queen Elizabeth for a night or even an afternoon. If you value your future, map and photograph the charpoy and the hut that Gandhi slept in. It has the additional advantage of making you useful to your political correspondent colleagues who want to find out who is the next unlikely political candidate after Kalavati.
  1. If you are afraid of your political colleagues’ contempt of Rahul Gandhi, publicly join them in their mockery of the austerity drive. But in your hearts remember what Gilbert and Sullivan wrote about Oscar Wilde in the libretto PatienceThough the Philistines may jostle, you will rank as an apostle in the high aesthetic band…If he's content with a vegetable love/which would certainly not suit me/Why, what a most particularly pure young man/this pure young man must be!"


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