Saturday, April 16, 2011


This is not about Kiran Bedi the celebrity. This story is about me. I realised this while waiting outside her house in South Delhi with the rest of the camera crew from NDTV.

It was only last year in Muscat, Oman, that I had been spitting mad about missing out on Kiran Bedi's visit to the Indian Embassy and to my alma mater. My father had had passes for the event but for some reason had not thought that any of us in the family would have been interested. And I was interested! Growing up outside of India, one could only keep up with the newsmakers in the homeland through the TV and newspapers. You just didn't have the kind of access to these people that you might've had if you'd been living in India. As Indians, you felt like these public figures were yours in some familial way. In India you might be able to run into them at malls or at a rally or something. Somewhere. Anywhere. Not so overseas. So I was mad that I'd missed Kiran Bedi's visit to Oman. I'd lost my chance.

And so an improbable year later I was waiting to enter her house as part of an NDTV crew. A few minutes later I was in her office watching the camera crew set up for her interview as she quietly read some newspapers at her desk. I let my gaze wander about the numerous framed items around her office - a picture of Swami Vivekananda, a 5th grader's handmade sketch of Mahatma Gandhi, numerous awards and plaques, and images of the Hindu deity Ganesha. A small tower of books stood upon a table behind her desk. One of the books was about the influential women of India.

I started as I caught sight of two framed silver Omani khanjar daggers high up a wall. The sudden sight of those familiar objects from a faraway Middle Eastern childhood threw me off for a second - I felt a little bit off kilter as I got confused about which country I was in. Then I remembered once again that I was in India and that the khanjars must've been presented to Kiran Bedi when she was in Muscat last year...during the trip I had been so close to attending. A soft feeling of homesickness for an alien nation warmed my cheeks because I had discovered that another person in the same room had stepped onto its soil as well.

I stayed back in Kiran Bedi's office for a minute after the crew had packed up and left. I told her that I was raised in the country that the khanjars were from and how close I'd been to seeing her there. She smiled. Then I adjusted the tripod bag that was slung across my back and left, not angry about last year's passes anymore.

Read related: Climbing Every Mountain

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