The Prime Minister of Tawa – 28
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They grumbled and groaned, but all twelve ministers and Horan Samiban made it to the conference room at the appointed time. Initially a week’s classes had been planned. An hour a day for five days ought to have been enough for an average human being to learn to use a laptop by most reckoning. But the instructor who was to train the ministers had not taken into account their determination not to learn anything new. They laughed at him when he asked them to move their mice. The words ‘control, alt, delete’ made them look accusingly at the instructor as if he were trying to pull a fast one on them. ‘I have lots of windows in my house. I never had any problems with windows till now,’ Peelee told the instructor to the accompaniment of much laughter. At the end of the week, none of them could do much with their laptops, except Horan Samiban.
Horan was not initially included in the list of people who were to be issued new laptops and invited (or rather forced) to attend the training session. Only the Prime Minister and his twelve ministers were to be given the new IBM ThinkPads. Earlier Mash had given up his plans to get all government departments to switch to computers. At that point, Judy had a brainwave. ‘Get all your ministers to start using laptops. Once they start using laptops and get comfortable with it, they will not resist when you try to introduce computers everywhere else.
It was a good idea, Mash conceded. The idea was received with a total lack of enthusiasm when Mash announced it to his ministers at a party meet where Horan Samiban was also present.
‘So, you don’t want to computerise the TFP office?’ Horan asked Mash.
‘I would like to, of course. Once these chaps are used to working on their laptops, we’ll introduce computers in the party office as well.’
‘If you want to introduce computers in the party office, you better give the General Secretary a laptop. And let me attend the classes as well.’ Horan had a smile on his face, but Mash realised that he was quite hurt at not being given a laptop.
‘Horan-raan, I am so glad that you reminded me. I think you ought to be given a laptop. And you ought to attend the classes as well.’
Horan Samiban’s laptop was paid for by the TFP. Fourteen laptops were ordered. ‘I’m glad we are not ordering thirteen laptops,’ Mash confessed to Judy after they both had tucked in for the night.
‘You’re becoming superstitious,’ Judy accused Mash.
‘Maybe I am. I just realised that we have very little control over the way things turn out. Someone has a huge, monstrous remote control in his hand somewhere. I wonder who it is and what makes that person tick.’
‘So you think avoiding the number thirteen will please the man who holds the remote control?’
‘I don’t know. I wish I knew what makes things click.’
‘Mash, grow up. At this rate you will drive yourself nuts.’
‘I think I will survive, but there are too many things I need to take care of.’
‘And you are doing a good job.’
Mash turned over and lay with his face pressed into his pillow. ‘I need to get the peace treaty in place. I think Hanoleeyan will ultimately sign on the dotted line. The Seedas have been given a bad deal all along. If they can be convinced that they will not be discriminated against or ill treated, they will agree to peace. We are offering them something decent.’
‘And they like you. You are Seleem Zolodas’s son, aren’t you?’
‘I need to first sign the peace treaty and then start looking for companies to invest here.’
‘Honey, you will do all that.’
‘It’s just the first investment that’s difficult to arrange. Once people see companies doing business in Tawa and making profits, they’ll come in.’
‘They will. They’ll see a stable democracy run by a sensible Prime Minister trained in England and they’ll all flock in.’
‘Flock in. Indeed! I am yet to see any sheep on the horizon.’
‘Mash, relax. There’s no way you can get things wrong. You are too good for that. Things have been so bad here that whatever you do will come up trumps.’
‘And then I will have to start privatising all those banks, the insurance company, the factories and the plantations.’
‘You will honey.’
‘I hope I can give Urush’s plantations back to him. They used to own five plantations, did you know that?’
‘Barbara did tell me that General Naranin had nationalised some of the plantations which Urush’s father owned.’
‘I hope I can give all of them back to him. He has helped me so much.’
‘Do you think Urush will have to pay to get them back? That doesn’t sound fair.’
‘No it doesn’t. We need to work out the details once we are ready to privatise. Who should pay what and all that?’
‘I was just thinking, the next time we go on vacation, we should take Urush and Barbara and their kids along.’
‘That sounds like a plan. Heather will have much more fun if Veseem and Vanamola are with us.’
‘Maybe we could go to Australia. Barbara hasn’t gone back to Australia in ages, you know. It will be a sort of gift to them. Do you think we can get the government to pay for their tickets? I mean, aren’t we allowed to invite a few guests with us when we go on vacation?’
‘I’m sure we can. It’s the least we can do for them after all that Urush has done for me.’
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