“Hello, Krish, Hillary Here.”

By Kollengode S. Venkataraman

e-mail:  ThePatrika@aol.com

Editor’s note:  Nobody knows if  this conversation really took place between Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State and S.M.Krishna, India’s Foreign Minister.  We did not find any reference to this conversation in the WikiLeaks papers either.  But we think this is how it could have gone.

“Krish, Sorry to call you at this late hour. Do you have a minute?”

“Hillary, of course, anytime. We always have time for senior US officials ever since your husband’s visit over ten years ago.”

“Krish, I have to make so many phone calls all through the day and next several days, so I have to be very brief. Hope you won’t mind.”

“Of course not, Hillary, Your time is very important.”

“I’ve to forewarn you about some serious leaks coming out of that sob Assange in WikiLeaks. You’ve heard the rumors, right?”

“Yeah. We got several cables from our overseas missions.”

“Krish, we all understand how bureaucracy works, right? You know, mid-level career diplomats want to send their kids to good schools at government expense, and so, they look for plum postings?”

“Yes, Hillary, that is very common among our folks too. They’ll do anything to get postings in North America, Singapore, Tokyo… …”

“So, you know, they work hard to get the attention of their bosses, and often they are not only candid and crisp, but also colorful with words?”

“Of course, Hillary. With many of our foreign service officials are scholarly and erudite, and you know, we have many languages in India, some of them very old.”

“I didn’t know about that. Why is that relevant here, Krish?”

“We’ve very colorful risqué phrases in our languages that we learn quickly when we move around, and use them in talking among ourselves if we don’t want others to understand what we are conveying.”

“Really? Anyway, in the WikiLeaks, you’ll find references to your leaders that you may, err, err, find kind of undiplomatic.”

“… … …”

“Krish, are you there?”

“Um hmm, uh hmm.”

“Please don’t take it personally, Krish. These’re in the course of them  communicating with State. You may not know, our guys consider postings in India as hardship duty, and they sometimes go overboard to impress their bosses in DC to get better postings.”

“I know. Our guys do the same thing to stay in plum postings in London Paris, Ottawa, Toronto, DC, New York, San Francisco… …”

“Some of the WikiLeak cables will be really bad, Krish. But you’ll be happy to read what our guys have told about Pakistani and Afghani  politicians, Pakistan’s ISI and their military. Compared with that, what we’ve said about India, you may even find it complimentary.”

“That should help us dealing with our media. Don’t worry. Besides, our reporters are just glorified stenographers. Believe me, this will blow over. I’m only interested in the long-term Indo-US relationship.”

“That is comforting, Krish, Thanx.”

“I can tell you this in confidence and off the record, Hillary. The colorful phrases in the cables we get from our guys in the US on your guys are no different. As they say in Tamil, one of our regional languages, Paambin kaal paambariyum — ‘a snake knows the foot prints of other snakes.’”

“That is an apt expression Krish. I too am sharing with you my surprise in confidence. How come our CIA and DCI with all their datamining software failed to extract the cables sent from your guys in the US?”

“Hillary, this is top secret: We have perfected it.”

“Wow, Have your IT guys come up with sophisticated encryption software to protect diplomatic cables? I’ll ask CIA to get in touch with them.”

“No Hillary. You’re giving too much credit to our IT guys. They are only good for servicing the industrialized countries’ IT needs, mostly in Europe, North America, Singapore, Japan.  Remember, we were a European colony for over 100 years, and the mindset hasn’t changed.”

“Then, Krish, tell me, how do you do it?”

“This is strictly confidential, Hillary. In the days of teleprinters…”

“Krish, is it ‘teleprinters’ or ‘teleprompters?’”

“Hillary, I said teleprinters –  te-le-prin-ters.  We had them decades ago to print telegrams. They came only in English alphabets. In the days of teleprinters, our vernacular newspaper reporters used to transliterate their language reports to their editors using English script.”

“Krish, How is it relevant to protect diplomatic cables?”

“You’re a typical American, Hillary. Always in hurry.”

“OK. Go ahead, Krish.  But be brief.”

“We had a wily section officer in our office. He suggested reverse engineering. With computers, now we have Indian scripts – Devanagari, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada… … Now all our diplomatic cables in the English language are transliterated into our vernacular scripts.”


“You don’t have enough people familiar even in Arabic, Farsi and Pashto, so we know none of your guys can ever read our cables in English transliterated into our vernacular scripts. And we also know that none of the Indian-Americans kids in DCI or CIA can read Indian languages.”

“I’ve got to admit, that is damn neat, Krish. I’ve got to go. I have to call Zardari now.”

“Thanx for calling telling me. I need to alert our moles in Islamabad.”     ♦

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