Sunday, January 03, 2010

How I tackled the Obama dispute

Christmas 2009 found me in my niece’s house. It was a beautiful family affair with ten adults and eight children.

The celebrations began with drinks and starters. That company of adults consisted of maximum- two -pegs and teetotaling young men and women below 45. I mention this just to tell you in advance what followed was not the upshot of inebriation.

By the way, it was a bitingly cold winter day – at least for me who just landed from the warm weather of Trivandrum. Even indoors, I refused to divest myself of my jacket and the other warm outer garments that could be discarded by a seasoned New Yorker. Bundled up in the warm clothes which not only hid the beautiful salwar suit I had on, but also made me look terribly close to a female mallu version of ST. Nicholas, I sat there among my children, my nephew and nieces and their spouses, feeling good.

Being the oldest in the company, I was the grand old lady – and was genuinely enjoying the status and the attention I was getting by virtue of that status, when someone casually mentioned OBAMA and made an off the cuff remark that he can start packing his bag to go back to Illinois in 2012.

And then all hell broke loose. Well No. Not hell really. Can’t call it that if I want to revisit that hell once in a way to get recharged!

Three groups were formed instantly. Pro Obama (PO), Obama critics (OC) and Fence sitters (FS). I belonged to the last ‘cos I didn’t didn’t know the kuttans of US politics.

The PO launched into a eulogy of his health policy. The OC punched holes in the eulogy. The FS s threw their bit in.

Decibels were on the rise.

The OCs felt Obama’s one year in office did not scale up to his rhetoric.

The POs launched into an explosive defense. Fusillade in the respective directions from the Fence Sitters and high precision bomb from the lead PO. All at once.

Decibels rose still higher, and with that the temperature in the room.

I pulled off my jacket and threw it on the empty chair near me.

And the OC struck the POs Achilles heels.

‘What about the 30, 000 additional troops to Afghanistan?

BOOM!! It came close to the first Pokharan test – not the failed one, mind you.

Splinters, shards, radioactive heat –

I stripped off my sweater and threw it on the jacket.

My nephew noticed my action and saw the approaching danger of an uncomely disrobing, and he warned others. They paused for a second, condescended to indulge in a perfunctory laugh and resumed.

Then somebody threw in Israel. Obama was the only gutsy president ever to blunt talk to them. A huge volley of protests followed.

My muffler joined the sweater and I noticed my poor nephew wiping his forehead.

And then everyone was talking – no. outshouting each other. Israel, Afghanistan, teleprompter, audacity, book, insurance. The shouting match reached a pitch that generated a heat level that made me stand up.

My nephew got alarmed, and he blew the whistle.

M’aunty is contemplating what next to discard, he yelled.


That did it.

The ‘revelation that was at hand’ brought them to their senses. No Obama was worth the nightmarish vision, they decided.

Soon the temperature cooled and we proceeded towards the table where a sumptuous spread awaited us.


  1. Brilliant... You're a natural narrator Amma.. As dramatic as it may sound, I'll vouch that it was pretty close to the truth!

  2. very nice piece..tempted to add some masala but i'll hold off..atleast for now..

    your fence sitting nephew

  3. Great. I can feel the heat generated.

  4. Ha ha, funny. I think I count as one of your fence sitters. But that's really a misnomer, everyone there knew very clearly which side of the fence they were on. But since you needed a megaphone to participate, the "fence sitters" just gave up trying to talk. Their general consensus was that obama has barely completed one year in office, so expecting immediate results (instant gratification) is silly.

  5. hahahaha...that was hilarious! :D

    maybe u should visit the parliament sometime ;)

    happy new year :D n what does 'pareltank' mean?

  6. @ blunt edges
    now THAT'S an idea.but i think the kerala assembly would be still better.
    pareltank is the name of the street in mumbai where i lived when i started blogging.
    thanks for visiting. do come again.

    @ anita
    i wasnt aware of any consensus. the shouting match ended open ended.

    @ charakan
    thanks for visiting

    @my fence sitting nephew
    welcome to sprinkle your masala - so long as it doesnt trigger off tummy upset - as your masalas usually do :-)

    @ mathew
    hey, come on now. it was more dramatic that my narration.

  7. Haha :D I should try this next time I feel too cold. Maybe bring local political heroes?

  8. Heh,'re being disingenuous when you say that you don't understand the ins-and-outs of the health care argument, after all the grounding and Cliff's Notes that I've provided you via A.B.
    But I understand the urge to just sit back and watch these kind of arguments in peace, not actively taking sides :-)
    At least you knew how to bring down the temperature in the place rapidly, with your 'striptease' threat-that is so hilarious!

  9. Where was this place you had this party?I cant think of any place in Kerala where you can wear a jacket for Christmas.I have been here for for almost three weeks,and all the while complaining of the heat.My daughter tells me it is minus ten degrees at Frankfurt.However,I wish I could be there for the party,your narration is so tempting.Two pegs would have brought something commendable out of me!

    You did it again.Unimitable style.
    I wish I could take some lessons from you.But I am too old to learn.

    There are important areas in which Obama has been quite commendable, and I've personally praised him fairly lavishly for those actions at many casual discussions, but it is simply unacceptable .. no matter what else is true about him for Obama to claim for himself the very legal immunity and secrecy powers which characterized and enabled the worst excesses of Bush lawlessness. Yet in a short period of time, he has taken one step after the next to do exactly that.Like all politicians, Obama is not intrinsically good. Good things don't happen by virtue of the mere existence of his presidency. His presidency will be good only and exactly to the extent that he does good things. Pressure and criticisms make his doing those good things more likely.We are at a time of great economic insecurity; a time when fundamental rights are under threat from our own governments. Silence or passive acquiescence is complicity. Enough already! We can applaud Obama’s actions when they are right; we cannot and should not excuse or explain away his actions when they are wrong. If we don’t speak out, who will?

  10. @ dr antony
    it was in new york.

    @ sujatha
    i was simply floored by the fury obama causes among INDIANS!

    @ cris
    with local politicians in the local milieu, there's no apparel u can discard without geting arrested:-)we dont wear jackets etc etc in kerala :-)

  11. Oh I didnt mean to be inspired by the discarding part - just the raising-temperature part :D

  12. 1) As the FS-hostess, I agree with Anita's point. However, I dont whole-heartedly agree with every decision he has made.

    2) I'm willing to host another gathering, just to hear the masala this post'll trigger :-D

  13. I'm with Anita the consensus clearly was that Obama is a fabulous President worthy of the highest praise :)

    However, the Obama point aside.

    Great story...that day was a wonderful introduction to a wonderful family!!!

  14. @amala
    thanks FS hostess.your preference? pala nazrane masala? might prove to be too spicy.

    wonderfully noisy introduction? anyway, arm yourself with earplugs next time :-)

  15. Nice commentary. What a way to manipulate a conversation!


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