Seems, the spin doctors are at it again. Newspaper articles are appearing, how: “BJP left red faced over Rahul’s ‘private’ US visit”./ “BJP gets egg on its face…Rahul Tweets photographs!”
But one of the enigmas yet to be cleared…why Rahul Gandhi has to cross such a long distance of around 12,500 kilometres, that too to a popular hill station in the USA, just to listen, “Very interesting discussions on the global economy & the disruptive power of tech”….! And while he was so vocal about Modi Government’s businessmen friendliness, while sermonising in front the poor ‘Kisans’, what he was doing in a far off Ski resort town in the company of a wealthy businessman from south Mumbai!
Incidentally, the senior Deora, the father, Late Murli Deora, was a key fund raiser for the Congress Party in Mumbai! Coming from a village in Rajasthan, this Marwari trader rose higher both in business and politics and remained the President of Marathi dominated Mumbai Congress, for more than two decades with ample blessings of the high command! But in 2011, a CAG report had unearthed a Scam and its report had indicated that the he had favoured several gas majors as the Union Oil Minister.
It had said…“….Some of these violations between 2006 and 2008 may have resulted in “huge” losses to the exchequer”. As a consequence, the long time loyalist Murli Deora was dropped from the Petroleum Ministry. Nothing wrong with being rich and influential. But people are curious, was that young industrialist also invited to that conference!
Jisne Aspen Nahi Dekha…!
Coming to Aspen. With four mountains for skiing, an assorted list of occasional and annual festivals, and a frequent possibility of spotting some celebs or Hollywood starlets enjoying their parties or the après-ski, Aspen brings a well-designed version of the Rocky Mountain High life. Prices are often higher in Aspen than in other Colorado resort towns, but again, here you have the exciting range of gorgeous hotels, greatest dining and partying places, in the summer, big biking, hiking, and horse riding opportunities. If you go for rafting, you get the melted snow-filled rapids in June. Aspen during the summer is magnificent. The beauty of the leaves in the fall brings people to Aspen.
In terms of crowds and attractions, Aspen excels in it’s the Ski season, generally from December to March– and the summer during the festival season.
And What You Should Not Miss in Aspen
• Enjoy Skiing at one of the slopes: For a beginner: Buttermilk but for an experienced Ski aficionado, obviously the Snowmass
• Hiking in the “Grottoes,” the caves along the Roaring Fork River
• Chilling in a pub or bars, which are aplenty.
• Chance meeting a Hollywood celebrity at one of the Nightclubs or Chic Restaurants
• Attending one of the many festivals in town. Food & Wine Fest, Summer Aspen Music Festival or for the cerebral types, the Aspen Ideas Festival
• Casual shopping at Aspen Saturday Market, from June through October
• For the boldheart, the Conundrum Hot Springs, favourite with bathers and swimmers. Clothing is optional
A Very Private Journey!
Our media becomes too conservative while it comes to a particular set of politicians. Our media never tried to send one of its US based stringer to see, what the Aspen place is like or what was the great conference which attracted great leaders from around the world! In the two month long foreign sojourn, first we heard that Rahul baba was meditating in the Himalayas. Later someone told that , no it’s a very special mediation session in Thailand! Some others told that, no, it was Myanmar, no it was Cambodia…no, it was any other south east Asian country! The same Indian media, which chases the poor lady in interior Mehsana, Modiji’s betrothed ‘wife’, whom he left 50 years back and left home for ever. The same media visits a non-descript east European country to meet Lalit Modi…but they were quite shy of finding what religious hardship Rahul baba was performing abroad, for his own enlightenment and the country’s benefit! Whether he was sitting on the Lotus pose round the clock and chanting “Om Manipadme Hum!” or even visiting the local pubs, watering holes or other places of interest there.
Even this time, it has been exhorted as a purely private tour. But by saying so, It borders some kind of pretence.
While in India, you keep on shedding tears for ‘Poor Kisans” and drought hit farmers who are committing suicide, or the poor Indians, who earn not more than Rs 20 a day for survival…according to planning commission honchos…
Then how can one take such random foreign trips of personal types…or even enlightenment varieties! It naturally reminds someone, those Gulf Sheikhs…who keep on spending good times in French Riviera and in the Alps!
In the dimly lit photographs of foreign dignitaries in the company of Rahul Gandhi and his wealthy businessman friend… they were supposedly wearing something looked like night dresses or casuals! Was it proper attire for such an ‘international’ conference… “attended by the leadership of the people and the world, experts, scientists, entrepreneurs and managers of international organizations and companies”! someone is ready to ask. There were some comments in social media too: “..Which country’s President will go to a conference with his shirt not even tucked?”
President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimson is not unknown to Gandhi family either.
And it’s also known that President Grimson is a regular visitor of the USA. Very familiar with primarily Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Family trust financed, ‘Aspen Institute’, which has centres all over the USA and in many parts of the world. In Delhi too ‘Aspen Institute’ has a centre, where the Iceland President visited during one of his Delhi visits in 2013. Interestingly, the Aspen institute has among its board of trustees Cong MP Shashi Tharoor.
And Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimson is not unfamiliar with the Ski city of Aspen, either. His wife Dorrit Moussaieff is an avid Skiier. In 2007, she met an accident, while Skiing on the slopes of Aspen!
And about that world renowned conference, even the local newspaper ‘Aspen Times’ has no clear idea about. As if, “Aisa toh yehan bahut hote rehte hai!” Surprisingly enough, in one of its reports that has a passing mention of one such conference, it quoted Indian newspaper ‘Economic Times’, which carried a story about such a grand happening../ even without visiting Aspen, with a Delhi dateline. No guessing, who provided the information!
But Kuch toh hai! Local Aspen press reported: “An Aspen resident trying to enter unauthorized into an event venue at St. Regis Aspen was arrested and charged with theft. The person, Herb Beshar of Aspen, is accused of picking up a vest. The vest also doubled as a credential for an invitation-only conference. The special vest was priced at around $100!” Well, you buy a vest worth US $100, and you are then part of a great international meet! The poor fella Herb Basher, tried to be an intellectual overnight, in the wrong way indeed.
Conference Ho Jai!
Apart from Skiing and partying, Aspen has in recent years, became a popular venue for various meets, like Corporate Meetings, Incentive Meets, Sales Meets, Get Togethers, Art Exhibitions, Book Launch, Weddings and Birthday Parties of the moneyed people. Many event organisers in and around Aspen are ready to help you in this matter. Even the renowned ‘Aspen Institute has its full fledged Conference venue here, which they rent, round the year.
One such Event Management Company in the town has this to offer:
“We can help you, finding the right venue that can accommodate hundreds of people for a corporate gathering, an important multimedia presentation, or an off-the- track venue that will bring you the unique, one-of-a-kind experience. From block parties to nightclubs, to the best DJs and live music performances in the bars and the clubs, Aspen will keep your guests engrossed till the last call.
Aspen has notable events round the year, like the Women’s World Cup Ski Races, The Food and Wine Classic, Annual ‘Toast to Winter‘ Festival, the Canine Fashion Show, the Fat Cycle Challenge, Live Music, Picnics, Kids Carnival, and spectacular Fireworks over Aspen Mountain. So if your company or you yourself is looking to make more than just a celebration or a big impression, hold your next group meet, or conference, here in Aspen.”
The Jazz lovers have the popular ‘ Jazz Aspen Snowmass’. The nightly Lawn Party, prior to the main stage concert for a Lawn Party featuring live music and offers outstanding food and beverage. The main stage concerts begin at 8:30 nightly, after the “pre-party”.
In June- July, the ‘Aspen Institute’, holds the famous ‘Aspen Ideas’, festival. And never forget the very special Marriage Celebrations at the Marriage venues of Aspen.
At Aspen, you are never short of Ideas.
By Deep Basu
Images by author