Dear beta: An open letter to apna Indian US Ambassador Richard Verma

Dear Rahul ‘Richard’ Verma,

Heartiest congratulations on being nominated as the next US Ambassador to India.

Really, we are so so excited that an Indian is finally the Ambassador to India.

Yes, yes we know you are Indian-American. But you see we in India, don’t really put great stock in hyphens. It’s just a little dash of nothing. Once an Indian always an Indian. Your good parents were from Punjab? Yes, but where exactly? Do they know the Kalras? We want to send reporters to your ancestral gaon right away to track down any distant relatives still hanging around there who might be able to share some touching Verma family stories.

See, in our heart you are Indian, beta. Especially if you are an achiever of any kind. If you commit grand larceny and Wall Street fraud or sex crimes, or are a homosexual then it’s a different matter. We can blame it on the bad influence of America.



But you are an achiever. Like a Spelling Bee champion. You are first-class top-notch jewel in the crown. An Air Force veteran we hear. A National Security Fellow. So much foreign policy experience. US-India civil nuclear agreement. Very good.

But tell us what is your favourite home-cooked food? Do you eat Indian at home? Do your children? How spicy do you like it? Who is your favourite Bollywood star?

Anyway, it’s not just us. Even the Americans know that an Indian’s heart has nothing to do with an Indian’s passport or birthplace. Look at your own Republican Congressman Mr. Curt Clawson. Just the other day he kept telling Nisha Biswal of the State Department and Arun Kumar of the Commerce Department “I am familiar with your country. I love your country.”

He also told them he wanted “to ask for cooperation and commitment and priority from your government.” Nisha did say politely that she thought his question was for the Indian government and she would advocate that on behalf of the US government.

But the point is, the face never lies even if the passport tells another story. Mr. Clawson would never make that mistake with an Irish American, would he? But once an Indian, always an Indian. And damn proud of it we are too. That’s why we produce Indian Spelling Bee champions like clockwork.

Only one small thing, if you permit. We can call you Rahul-bhai right? We can drop that Richard business, can’t we? Now that it's just amongst us. We have had enough with all the Bobbys and Nikkis. There’s nothing wrong with Piyush and Nirmata. They are lovely names. Rahul too though in India these days our other famous Rahul is not having such achhey din.

But acchey din are here in America. Thanks to you. And that other lovely Indian lady Nina Davuluri (do you know her?). Miss America. Could it get any better? Beauty and brains. You have done us proud, all of you. Please tell her hello when you meet her. We hear she will be in Madison Square Garden with Mr. Modi. You must be going as well? Mr. Modi gives so much hope and inspiration to NRIs like you, na? We hope there is time to get your picture in the Souvenir program though. We must tell Dr. Bharat Barai at once to organise it. You know him, right? He's in charge of it all.

But of course you know we are also hoping you won’t be like some Indians we know. They go to America and become very swollen-headed. Yes like Mr. P.B. You know who we are talking about. Yes, Mr Bharara, we don’t like to take his name very much. So much disappointment he has caused and we were such ardent well-wishers. One day he is getting the India Abroad Person of the Year in some ballroom in New York and the next day he is going after every Indian he can find and putting handcuffs on them.

It is sad, sometimes these people think they can only get ahead in America by turning on their own, by showing themselves to be more cowboy than George Bush himself. All that humiliation Mr Bharara threw at our lady diplomat, Ms Khobragade. You think he’d have done that for some Russian or Chinese?

Ok even if there was something a little fishy, and which well-to-do Indian does not have a bit of a servant problem, he could have just made a quiet call or two. That is the Indian way. We manage things. That is how we have come so far.

But no some Indians are like coconuts– brown outside but all white inside. We hope you will not be like that. The only coconuts we want around you are the auspicious ones we will break to welcome you home to India.

We are so thankful you are coming. No matter what Mr Obama says there are many problems between our two countries – FDI, Pakistan, China, nuclear liability, WTO, defence deals. But now that one of our own is in charge everything will be smooth sailing because we are same-to-same.

Anyway we are getting ready to receive you in India with gala time. Please revert back as soon as possible with your ETA.

Waiting with marigold garlands and bursting pride,

One billion of your Indian brothers and sisters

PS: Please let us know if you will eat on the plane or we should keep some rajma-chawal aside for you.

Updated Date: Sep 22, 2014 16:11 PM

Also See