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Sip and sup matters

Every now and then, I take my family out.

Ajay Maken enjoys a quiet drink at The Embassy restaurant in New Delhi. Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

EVERY OTHER day he drives down to The Embassy restaurant in New Delhi's Connaught Place for a leisurely cup of coffee, some small talk, some crucial discussions. It has been a rendezvous point of sorts for years. Every month, he drives down to a hill station near Delhi to spend a couple of days of pleasure and privacy with his family. Every now and then, he takes his family out for dinner. Some times, it is the Chinese, on other occasions it is the Thai food which tickles the family. Then occasionally, not often, only once in a while, he takes time out for some shopping, at times restricting himself to window-shopping. On other occasions, he lays his hands on kurtas and belts, often taking his little one for a second opinion.

Welcome to the world of New Age Politician. No longer dressed in khadi, no longer travelling second-class in trains. Welcome to the world of Ajay Maken, Delhi Legislative Assembly Speaker, and now an MP from New Delhi. Welcome to the world of a politician who loves life and the comforts it brings the well heeled, the well placed.

"My day starts with meeting people. I live in Rajouri Garden which is part of my constituency. I don't perform pooja but I am a religious man and respect those who are religious too," says Maken, dressed in a short kurta and casual pants to go with his sport shoes. Goggles are in place too, as is his aftershave. Sipping his drink at his "favourite haunt", Maken reveals, "I don't drink coffee or tea in the morning. I prefer milk shake along with 10 almonds dipped in water overnight. It is my mother's recipe for good health. It works the best."

Through with his milk shake and almonds, he often drives out. "I love driving. Now I have a Maruti Vitara. Earlier, I used to drive a Sumo. Even when I go out with my family, I drive myself. I love it." And, yes, he does not mind changing an occasional flat tyre either!

Talking of loving, Maken also loves The Embassy for its "simplicity", its "low-key" look and its ability to leave the guests in peace. "I come here at least three-four times a week. It is one place where you can discuss the affairs of the world over a cup of coffee or a cold drink."

Even as a vegetarian sandwich makes an appearance, Maken states: "I am a pucca vegetarian. I don't take eggs either." Taking another sip, he admits, "At home I love to make coffee. I can make freshly ground coffee pretty well. But for meals, I can only prepare those two-minute noodles they keep talking about on TV!"

For food to relish, this articulate young man goes down to Imperial Hotel's Spice Route restaurant. "I like Thai food and the special curry they make at Spice Route. Otherwise, my family likes Chinese food and we often go down to Malcha Marg for a bite."

On such trips, Maken does not mind those curious looks he gets from bystanders. "I am used to attention all the time. I know that is the price one has to pay for spending some time in a public place with the family. But I prefer to call it quality time."

Does he plan his weekends? "No, not at all. I don't plan ahead. It is always an instant decision. Whether it is about going to a hill station or to a local restaurant, it is always instant. It is only in politics that one has to plan well ahead."

Through with his discussions and drink, Maken has to leave The Embassy in this very busy season of political bargaining. But there is time still to walk down the Inner Circle of Connaught Place for a belt that fits, for a tie that suits. Really, the New Age Politician has arrived.


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