When do you think Bush will visit India?" Elizabeth Bumiller asked me.
The New York Times star reporter was, I am willing to bet, one of the handful of American journalists who knew anything about India at the Bush-Singh press conference.
Bumiller spent three-and-a-half years in India when her husband was posted there as a correspondent for the New York Times in the 1980s. Out of that experience came May You Be The Mother of A Hundred Sons, which I recommend you read. (You can pick up a copy at the rediff Bookshop.)
Her husband Steve R Weisman is now the distinguished diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times. A source in the Indian delegation mentioned on Tuesday morning that one of Steve's friends in the Indian diplomatic establishment had requested that he report the big outcome of Dr Singh's visit to Washington in the Times. Voila, Tuesday morning's front page report (registration required) in the Times.
Bush, I told Elizabeth, would visit India in January or February.
"January," she exclaimed with the weary knowledge of a Delhiwallah, "what about the fog?" (A reference to the annual fogs that delay, sometimes for days, flights in and out of north India).
She asked if Bush would visit some other Indian city. Knowing he is no Clinton, who visited Rajasthan, Hyderabad and Mumbai (and may have wanted to visit a lot more placesJ), I felt the President may restrict his stay to Delhi, and maybe visit Bangalore because of its high-tech reputation.
"But he will have to visit Pakistan too," she said, "and you know what happened when Clinton went there."
Bush can't avoid Islamabad, but his visit will need the kind of security never seen in our world before.
The Bush-Dr Singh press conference
Complete Coverage: History in the Making