Last Sunday, my husband and sons had exactly the same idea as Rahul Gandhi. Now, how often does something like that happen? They took me to Yauatcha for brunch. Yep its fancy. The hottest place for Sunday brunch in Delhi. We’ve been to Delhi restaurant maybe a handful of times in the last decade, and we eat early. This is why, what happened next was so rare.
I looked up over the pretty pink menus to find family consensus on what to order. Standing, nope moving, about 100 feet in front of me was the most powerful woman in India with her Baba. I guess like us, they too like to head out early. Life with security detail on your butt, is probably easier this way. Before I could react and think, phone, photo, hmm, are they too far, they whisked themselves into a private dining room. For that brief moment, they were just another mother and son, like any other upscale Mama and beta on Mother’s Day.
I’m sure like me, Rahul must have heard rave rhapsodies about the place from foodie friends. With busy weeks, or was it months of hard campaigning in the heartland, dim sum to die for needed to be on the menu.
Life, especially for someone in the public sphere is as much about perception as it is about reality. With results from elections due today, the country’s level of excitement is like being at a Beatles concert in the 1960’s. Not being an Indian citizen, I mostly pretend I’m immune.
Coming back to Rahul, yes he’s been born in exalted circles, but life even if you’re born Rahul Gandhi needs to be lived on one’s own terms. We Indian moms love our boys too much, just like Italian Mamas. Like Sonia, I’m kind of a strong personality and can make a perfectly al dente Linguine with Pesto. As my boys grow up, it is becoming clearer that they need to be their own men. Who I want them to be needs to become more irrelevant.
So Rahul, I appreciated that the restaurant was hopping when I left but your security detail was well hidden, not staring down other diners. Considering how much hoopla minor politicians make, that was classy. Rahul, my friends will tell you I like to give advice, so here goes some for you.
I know, I can never have a complete picture of your reality. Living in a bubble all of your life, I doubt you can either. The perception I have of you, is primarily one of sadness. Though this country judges your family quite harshly (particularly your bro-n-law Bob Vadra and your Mama), I believe they are fully justified. Here though, I’ll look at you separate from them, because even though it was a 100 feet away, I sensed you’re concerned with your legacy.
Yeah, I know, your Daddy and your granny and your great-grandpa ran the country. Whatever! Good for them. You however need to figure out what you want. In an ideal world you should have already been doing something of your own choice by now, but that’s ok. Its 2014, you’ve got a bit of cash, so even in India, rules for you aren’t as rigid as they’d be for the average Gaurav or Sanjay. John Kennedy Jr. had a similar legacy, and he tried to carve out a life of his own in the short while he lived. By the way, I saw him a few times too, usually just rollerblading down Broadway past my apartment. Yep, he was rather handsome, just like you.
So hey Rahul, go garden organically like the last Emperor of China. Invent the cure for dengue, (you know we regular people here in India can really use that), just please, please go live for yourself. You’re lucky your forbears left you well off enough to do whatever the hell you want. So…maybe, begin a Bill Gates type giant NGO which ‘actually’ helps Indian citizens with intractable problems. Feel free to use any of my ideas or better yet, come up with some on your own.
Rahul, when I see you on TV, you look just so very uncomfortable. In the restaurant you were quite at ease. In jeans and T-shirt you looked A-ok in your own skin. You know, politics is not the only way to help people. It is not even the best way. Being someone who can promote civil society is and luckily there are a billion avenues for that in India. It’s a big country with many people and many problems. Apply your complete focus on just one of them.
If you’re worried Indian politics won’t survive without you, stick your hand in a jug of water. Did you notice what happened? Water shifted to accommodate your hand. Now, pull your hand out. Don’t worry, the same water which made room for you, see its perfectly fine. If we’re one of the lucky ones with more than just food, kapda and some tin on our heads to keep the sun and rain off, then we need to benefit the world.
I guess you took your mom for Chinese on Mother’s Day hopefully, because Mom likes it. In a few years, take your wife and kids out with your mom. Look at today as your chance to get away. Find what you’re good at. Rollerblade down Broadway. Create your own family. Mamas don’t last forever. The family you were born in has had too much tragedy. Honour them with a happy legacy. I’m a mom too. That’s what I would want for my boys. Good luck Baba and god speed.
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