The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2006

P.D. finished his speech in the time he had allotted himself and looked around, tremendously pleas- ed. He noticed that for the first time in his tenure, no one was shouting at him or pleading for him to make an impossible change in government policy. His bodyguards stood in their normal state of cat-like alertness, with heavily lidded eyes; but he was, in fact, a spectator, unnoticed, in the truest sense of the word. Amazing, he thought as he smiled to himself. He made a mental note to write this humanizing event down in his mem- oirs, along with a secret wish to see Ram Balram fail. The man was good for business. Meanwhile a group of reporters, no longer interested in his words, had gathered around a local man who was holding forth with seriousness. P.D. watched. “We love him. Everyone in this village. He is our Ram Balram. He has refused all help for 65 years. He says he will do it on his own, with- out any help. That is why we admire him,” the local explained. P.D. shook his head slightly. The country would never change, he thought. Let others raise the alarm about corrupting foreign influences, the drain on so much of India’s future. He knew that India was unex- plainable and unchanging on some basic level. What came would be converted. The keenest minds, men like Forster and Naipaul, had seen and meditated on this truth. He also knew that, like Ram Balram, the cycle of repetition was the drug and also the addiction. The ending had already been written and the story, well, the story was only the echo of a song sung long ago. Ram Balram would emerge, weary and a bit unsteady, and would be allowed perhaps 10 paces before someone would shout, “How was it, Ram Balram? Did you pass the exam?” And Ram Balram would wave with the back of his hand and reply, “Only God can say, but I am confident” — which would please them all to no end, and fill them with hope for the future. If only he could package that hope in something more manageable than a doddering and determined old man, P.D. thought somewhat wist- fully. J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 6 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 47 P.D. shook his head slightly. The country would never change, he thought. Interim Accommodations for Corporate and Government Markets Apartments, Townhouses & Single Family Homes “FOR THE EXECUTIVE ON THE MOVE” Locations throughout Northern Virginia and D.C. Units fully furnished, equipped and accessorized Many “Walk to Metro” locations Pet Friendly 5105-L Backlick Road, Annandale, Virginia Tel: (703) 354-4070 Fax: (703) 642-3619 Executive Lodging Alternatives