My first impression of the US President Barack Obama was that he looks a lot younger in person than he does in his pictures. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he walked in together. Each of the invitees was introduced to him and his wife, America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama.
My wife Shabana Azmi (social activist and actor) and I were introduced to him as the only Indian celebrity couple that had been appointed to the Rajya Sabha. It was kind of Mr Singh to introduce me as India’s finest poet. Mr Obama grinned at me, very informally, and said, “A poet and a politician is a distinguishing combination. I quite like it.”
After that, he met my wife and carefully observed her. Then he smiled at me and said with a wink, “I think you’re a really lucky man.” I returned his smile and said, “Thank you,” because I already know that I am.Shabana and Michelle had a long drawn conversation over various subjects, including fashion. Shabana asked her to check out the works of some of our young and upcoming fashion designers whose work has great promise. It was a memorable evening in many ways.
After meeting Mr Obama, I realised that he had this boyish charm and he didn’t carry a chip on his shoulder about being the US President. He was humble and had casual conversations with all of us.
I watched his entire speech in the Parliament House. I think he’s very well read and intelligent because he pushed the right buttons with his words. He referred to every important name from Subhash Chandra Bose to the Gandhis. He touched upon every subject of Indian interest from education to national security.
What has really impressed me is that he has gone back with 70,000 jobs for his fellow Americans. And now, I really wonder what are we getting in return!