'Without me and my flamboyance, this country would be a pretty dull place...'
Here's the thing: As the man known as the King of Good Times, don't I have the right to continue to have a good time?
Doesn't the reputation of this country as a high-flyer depend on people like me who support Formula 1 [ Images ] racing, the most expensive sport in the world, travel the world in private jets that rival Airforce One (except that our stewardesses are more beautiful -- remember, that's the success to running a successful airline) and bring out calendars of attractive women for retarded men to goggle at endlessly?
Without me and my flamboyance, this country would be a pretty dull place. So, I consider it my duty to the nation to continue to live like a first world billionaire or Saudi trillionaire.
Yet, dear diary, people are hinting that I should pay the salaries of my airline staff first. I consider this ridiculous. My airline has been grounded, its licence to operate suspended, just because I couldn't pay a few measly fuel bills, salaries and other incidentals.
It is nonsense to think people can't survive for seven months or so without their monthly salaries. If I didn't earn a penny for the next 100 years, I and my progeny (and theirs as well, if only they would get down to having some instead of breaking up with glamorous film stars who would have added to our brand equity) would be able to live in the same style we are accustomed to.
I magnanimously offered to pay the staff a part of their salaries in a staggered manner to meet Diwali [ Images ] expenses. They went about carrying placards calling me a criminal!
They said I am taking them for a ride (what else can I do when I own an airline, ha, ha). But, fortunately, some sense prevailed and they realised it was better to have three months salary in hand than seven months of nothing.
But this recalcitrant attitude, I don't mind confiding to you dear diary, has hurt me very much. I'm known to be a generous man, but this reputation of mine, which I cherish, is being daily debunked. I'm being made out to be a hard-hearted man, a Scrooge and so on.
As yet no one (except my ungrateful airline employees) is calling me all these things openly -- I still have that much clout with the media -- but I can see the day coming unless I do something quickly to avert it.
Fortunately, there is plenty of other headline-grabbing news around at this time. Like that fellow Khurshid ranting at a press conference and threatening people's lives and that chap Gadkari owning companies that have no addresses, and others where his chauffeur and yoga teacher or something sit on the board.
Anyway, dear diary, the thing is how do I turn all this negativity about me into something positive?
Should I offer the newspapers entry into my many palatial homes worldwide so that they can do dazzling 'exclusives' on my lifestyle?
Should I take them nightclub hopping, send them crates of Diageo products, fly them around in my jet -- generally bedazzle them with expensive freebies?
All that has worked in the past, but something tells me this is not the time to flaunt my wealth in that way. As I said recently, it's a crime in this country to show you are wealthy at the expense of others. How else can you get wealthy, pray?
Somebody suggested I should show some corporate social responsibility. This, he said, was a way companies have of creating a responsible, caring, image without actually doing anything much.
Maybe I should consider it. I could take a couple of deprived schoolkids to some IPL match or something. Make a smallish donation to some education or hunger project.
The danger of that is that someone is sure to ask why I don't simply put that money into paying the salary of my staff.
How to tell them that would bring me no benefits? And it's bad economics as well. A loss making concern shouldn't be wasting money like that. Like I said, I'm not about to sell the family silver to keep a loss making airline afloat.
It's all very difficult, dear diary. With great wealth comes great responsibility.
Here I am trying to be responsible by not using any of my personal wealth or money from my other profit-making (I think) companies to pay seven months' salary of my 4,000 airline employees and no one is applauding my generosity.
Instead, they are making silly jokes like KF Airlines is now KFC Airlines with a pic of a chicken replacing my kingfisher bird.
Anyway, there is a sucker born every minute. I'm sure I will be able to convince everyone concerned that I can come out of this crisis and fly high once again.
Besides, Siddharth, a real chip of the old block, is lolling about on beaches, scouting for some of the best bods for the new calendar.
And when that is out, everyone will be salivating too much to bother about my $1.4 billion debt or my starving employees.
Sherna Gandhy's tongue-firmly-in-cheek look at the King of Good Times.