I have two kinds of friends in the United States. A couple of them live in Tribeca, an artistic area in Lower Manhattan, a few in San Francisco, and this bunch is involved with the arts or work with food. Another bunch is in realty, farming and lives on the West Coast in suburbs, in and around Los Angeles. Some of them are also traders and small business owners and live in Jersey and Jacksonville, Florida.
Just this description should be able to tell you how different these different friends are. Obviously the earlier lot are Democrats while the latter mob are Republicans. Most Indians in America supported the Democrats.
Having said that, the influential Indian-American business community has always been a Republican stronghold, pooh-poohing the Democrats as well as decrying the state of India and blaming it wholly on Nehru and Nehruvian socialism.
I called up my friend Jignesh Patel after the Obama win. Jiggy, as he is fondly known, runs a very successful chain of beauty parlours in the Jacksonville area of Florida. He also is part of a club called The Desi Jax.
“Hey Jiggy, who did you vote for?” In his broad Indo-US accent he sardonically answered: “You ask me obvious question and you get obvious answer.” I persisted, “Yes, but who did you vote for?” “Barack bhai obviously”. “How come?” I asked, “I thought you were a hardcore Republican.” “I am, but what to do? I don't like Mitt Romney's immigration policies. He thinks we are responsible for the ‘browning' of America.” “Well Jiggy,” I say, “Your father may have come here in the 60s, but by 2012 you have your whole family here. In fact, your whole village.” “That is rubbish. Only my family is here. Not my whole village,” Jiggy argues. “Are you sure?” “Yes, absolutely; only my family is here. My whole village is in New Jersey.” “Semantics,” I replied, and pursued my line of questioning. “Since you voted Democrat, do you also share some of their liberal Democratic philosophies?” “I am very liberal,” was his prompt answer. I probed, “So you would support liberal thought like say, same-sex marriage?” I could hear him getting agitated on the phone, “What do you mean, would I support? Of course, I support. I support same-sex marriage.” “Really?” “Yes, I support. When you are married you have sex with the same person. Same sex marriage!”
“So Barack Obama, who you voted for, did win, so you must be in a great mood.” “What rubbish.” “Why? What are your sentiments?” “I will explain my sentiments in the poetry.” “OK.”
And on that note Jiggy turned into a Gujarati poet and this is how the conversation followed. “Dhokla, thepla, ragda pattice The wrong man is in oval office.” “WHAT? But you just said you voted for him.” “I had to. Compulsory.” “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” “What difference it makes? Listen to this— “Barack bhai White House padharo Jignesh bhai is full of sorrow.” “But why? Why are you full of sorrow?” “Mari jeb che poori khaali, Obama che kalo ane wife che kali.” “What has that got to do with anything at all? You should have just voted for the Republicans in that case.” “Sun che saaroo che Meet Romney maroo che.” “Why did you, then, not vote for Mitt Romney?” “How I can vote for him? I am pure vegetarian.” “So what?” “I can only vote for vegetarian.” “I don't get it.” “I cannot vote for meat.” “Meat?” “Meat Romney!”