Monkey bath. Anyone?

Mann ki Baat and style statements, et al, the 3-day Modi-Obama show went well. Let's get back to work now.


Anju Yadav | January 28, 2015 | New Delhi

As far as WhatsApp jokes go, this one’s the best for me so far. A caller from US asks an Indian what was this talk of ‘monkey bath’ that US president Barack Obama was supposed to have with prime minister Narendra Modi during the former’s visit to India.

Puzzled, the Indian realised it was ‘Mann ki Baat’ that his brother-from-another-mother was referring to. Obama somewhat stole Modi’s thunder in Tuesday’s radio programme. What’s more, elsewhere, he doled out an advice too, to steer clear of caste and religion politics, and to treat all Indians on a par. Let’s hope Modi not only listened to him in all earnestness but would also follow his lead and rein in the fringe elements of Sangh Parivar and Vishwa Hindu Parishad.  

Well, the cultural ‘pot puree’ had ‘Nadru ke Goolar’ for company at the lunch hosted by Modi for Obama a day before Republic Day. Now, I am sure many Indians would have rushed to pick up their Tarla Dalals to look up the meaning, for they might come in for a test of their knowledge at the hands of yet another American. It turns out Modi “put himself on the menu” to borrow a line from a Wall Street Journal blog post. I am borrowing WSJ’s explanation for the delicacy as well – a spicy kebab made with lotus stem. Aha, a Gujarati dish, no doubt. No harm in trying a new dish, it might yet be the next big export from India. But then, why not do it, consciously that is? 

After the ‘monkey bath’, Obama and Modi could well dress up in their monogrammed designer wear, in yet another show of solidarity. My cheap extension to the WhatsApp joke notwithstanding, let’s then take up the cause of the weaver, long forgotten after the election rhetoric from May 2014. Varanasi, as a colleague from the city says, is waiting for the Modi magic wand. His ‘Ganga ma’, might endure for a little longer, the people must get something real to celebrate their man at the helm.

Obama, I feel, might have even left India a little jealous, what with all the focus shifted from his wife and US first lady Michelle to Modi. Be it Modi kurta or his paisley-patterned saffron-and-off-white shawl, Modi hogged all attention. Only, he wore the dark shades to keep the glare out or was blind to the expectations sparked by all the adulation and admiration, is something only he would know.

I look forward to say ‘Jai Ho’. Will he, or won’t he, make me do so?



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