When Parrikar kept his word and knocked on the door…

Parikkar was an unassuming man.

My assignment was to interview Manohar Parrikar, the then Goa Chief Minister. The year was 2002. Parrikar was at the helm for the first time, having come to power a couple of years earlier. But in a state known for unstable governments, his was no different. And, one more election came up in June 2002.
As the special correspondent of a Delhi-based national daily in Bangalore, I was sent to cover the elections as there was no staffer in Panaji at that point. My contacts were limited and I set about the task of meeting Parrikar. Armed with a slew of telephone numbers (those were the initial days of the mobile phone) I frantically tried each. Nothing worked.
Parrikar was the Chief Minister, who was busy with the election campaign. Unfortunately for me, on that particular day, no one seemed to know where he was. His phone too went unanswered. The burden of the assignment gradually turned into a throbbing headache. “How the hell was I to interview him?”
I ordered a cup of coffee and probably lit a cigarette as well (not sure, though). Once that was done, I sauntered up to the window and looked down from my second floor hotel room. I saw a small crowd holding BJP flags on a door-to-door campaign. With nothing better to do and Parrikar on my mind I idly watched.
Suddenly I jumped…yes, there was Parrikar in flesh and blood. I couldn’t believe it. He was directing some people and trying to organize something. I dropped everything, opened the door and ran down to the street. Catching my breath, I walked up to him. I introduced myself and asked to interview him.
He paused from whatever he was doing, and excused himself saying he was busy. I pointed to the hotel and said I was staying on the second floor. He hesitated, and then asked me for my phone and room number. “I will come and meet you in a while. As you can see I am busy now, “ he said, politely. I agreed, though I wished I could have pushed him to talk to me then and there.
I returned to the room, not expecting the Chief Minister as he seemed really preoccupied with the campaign. Dressed in a white pant and shirt, he did not have any security paraphernalia or any officials with him. There were only party workers around. I waited. A couple of hours passed, he and his group of campaigners had left the street. I started to work on other stories.
Just when I thought he would not come I heard a knock on the door. Expecting a waiter with another cup of coffee, I opened the door with disdain. And lo, there was Parrikar. Alone. I welcomed him into the room and told him I thought he would not be able to make it. He just smiled, sat down on a chair and we had a long and interesting conversation. Once that was done, he left — in his trademark unassuming style. He had saved me from embarrassment.
I met him again a few days later at his swearing-in as chief minister a second time, and he gave me a knowing smile. That was the last time I saw him. Our paths never crossed again.