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Obama’s Dilli

What if Barack Obama was a neighbourhood or a landmark in Delhi? What would he be? As he gets ready to land in Delhi, we talked to the city’s eminent people.

entertainment Updated: Nov 03, 2010 01:06 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi

When Barack Obama was fighting in the elections to become America’s first black President in 2009, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver had said, “If Barack Obama was a state, he’d be California. Diverse. Open. Smart. Independent. Bucks tradition. Innovative. Inspirational.”

What if Barack Obama was a neighbourhood or a landmark in Delhi? What would he be? As he gets ready to land in Delhi, we talked to the city’s eminent people.

William Dalrymple, historian
Obama would be Greater Kailash or Maharani Bagh — the new establishment; flashy, offering a great deal, but actually slightly disappointing, once in situ with only intermittent delivery and in the end much like anywhere else.

Ashok Row Kavi, gay rights activist
Obama would be Qutub Minar. Everybody thinks he is the best erection that America’s subconscious has created out of its own aspiration. Remember, it’s an ancient relic.

Anuja Chauhan, novelist
Obama would be India International Center. Intellectual, worthy, much-awarded, and a little boring.

Lada Singh, TV presenter
Obama would be Qutub Minar. The first thing that strikes you is his height. He is tall, lanky and stands out in the crowd. Obama embodies uniqueness, just like the Qutub Minar. And after almost two years of being in office, he doesn’t appear all that infallible — just like the monument, which is no longer of its original height.

Anubhav Nath, art curator
Barack Obama would be Khan Market: approachable, popular, and most importantly — very marketable!
Yajuvendra Singh, Travel advisor
Obama would be Humayun’s Tomb. Just as it was the first Mughal monument in Delhi, Obama is America’s first black President.

Berenice Ellena, designer
Obama would be like Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. When it hosted the inaugural ceremony of Delhi Commonwealth games, the stadium gave us hope, just like the American President.

Siddhartha Basu, TV producer
Barack Obama would be the India Habitat Centre. He, like the IHC, is
the new kid on the block, unlike the conservative India International Centre.

Samit Basu, novelist
Obama would be Khan Market. Non-Americans like us cannot vote for his policies but it is still important to be heard talking about him. Just like Khan Market, where we can’t buy all that expensive stuff but still go there regularly to be seen. Besides, like the Market, Obama is always going to be ‘in’.

Himanshu Verma, art curator
I think Obama will be PVR Saket. The hangout is as wildly popular as Obama. No matter how many multiplexes open in Ghaziabad and Janakpuri, everyone still wants to come here. Besides, the crowd here happens to be the liberal young lot, pretty much like his supporters. Danish Hussain, theatre actor Obama ought to be Delhi’s most happening spot, which should be zingy, modern and clearly what kal ka Delhi would look like. Half a decade ago, Gurgaon would have qualified but it disappoints now. Today no area qualifies for an Obama-like appeal. If anything gets my vote then it is the web of Metro that we are creating across the city.