Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Indian Kennedys

In America, we have the Kennedys. In India? The Gandhis. If you're not aware of the parallels, let me try and recreate the explanation our friend Swata provided last night. Please note that Swata is from Baltimore, but her last name is coincidentally Gandhi. Though much like Mohandas, she has no dircet blood relation to the confusing family web described in the next paragraph.

It all started with Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the first Prime Minister of India after independence from Britain. Nehru's only daughter was Indira Gandhi, who had two stints as prime minister before being assassinated in 1984. Her elder son Rajiv succeeded he lost an election and was later assassinated in 1991. Her other son, Sanjay, also had a ton of political power but never held office and died in a plane crash in 1980. Rajiv's wife Sonia then became involved in politics and now leads the Congress Party in India. Many believe she's the most powerful person in the country. Her son, Rahul, is the heir apparent to this political dynasty and is currently a prominent member of parliament.

If you couldn't keep that straight, Wikipedia has a family tree.

I'm sure we could spend all kinds of time trying to equate different family members between the two, but suffice to say that both families are politically connected, powerful, and have the unfortunate draw of death before their time.

I know less about Indian politics than a person who's lived here for two years should know; however, I've seen enough of Rahul in the papers and on TV that you'd think I'd recognize him. Not so much. Last night we were fortunate enough to be invited to the pub at the Delhi Golf Club for dinner and drinks on the patio overlooking the practice green. There were two surprises. The first, that a golf course could smell like a golf course in the middle of Delhi, and the second, an unexpected close-up celebrity sighting which is my second while here (the first being Ranbir Kapoor filming a movie at Hauz Khas Village). Midway through our meal, our host Sonem motioned to a table of unassuming people near us and said, "That guy that just walked in wearing the black t-shirt; that's Rahul Gandhi."

Now the thing that was odd about that statement was that he was wearing a t-shirt yet we were at a country club. As you may or may not be aware, country clubs as institutions frown upon shirts without collars. Delhi Golf Club is no different. Apparently, Rahul, who spent his day addressing parliament on the anti-corruption Lokpal bill, wasn't above this rule. Someone brought him a golf shirt. Continuing his unassuming routine for the night; one minute he was wearing a black t-shirt and the next he was wearing a gray golf shirt. I didn't even notice the change.


  1. You got the Ghandis?? I thought it was just one guy that died decades ago, I did not know there were more guys with that lastname, but it is appealing from a comparison

  2. Golfing in India is the new rage with some of the Indian players making big on the global stage.Thankfully, being in the capital city of India, Golf course in Delhi is really world-class in nature and what a scenic lush greenery !! Amazing and truly awesome..