All I’m saying is that I’d like to have seen former first lady Barbara Bush get down to bhangra with village school girls. That is all I’m saying (h/t Sushil)!

The Obamas are in India doing some politico-shmolitico-ness this week, as we have been following here at Sepia Mutiny. Lesson of the day: never underestimate a good dance number to bond transnational alliances.

The whole country watched Michelle Obama shaking a leg to hit Bollywood number Rang De Basanti during her interaction with school kids in Mumbai on Saturday. Then again on Sunday, while celebrating Diwali with children from a school in south Mumbai, she broke into a jig to join kids performing a Konkani folk dance, even inspiring the US President to join her on the dance floor. [ndtv]

I wonder if this may at all change the script to the upcoming “Obama” Bollywood movie, “Phas Gaye Re Obama” (“Obama is in a Fix”). It’s about Obama-loving Indian gangsters struggling amid the economic recession. How can they not have a Michelle Obama inspired dance number now?

This entry was posted in Dance, Politics, Video by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

12 thoughts on “O-bhangra-ama

  1. I don’t know about Barbara Bush, but we do have some evidence for Laura Bush’s dancing preferences based on her trips to Brazil & West Africa. It does not seem she is that big on dancing. As a major tangent, I cannot resist the opportunity to link to Nancy Regan on Mr. T’s lap.

    Back to Michelle, I love her outfit and the < ahref=”http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/first_lady_plays_hopscotch_with_JdYbj7gjQ15JxMTD9VjT6J”>picture of her playing hopscotch. She really seems like someone who would really be wonderful to hang out with.

  2. That is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, a First Lady getting down Bollywood style. Michelle Obama might single handedly raise the profile of the US abroad. That was fantastic!

  3. The First Lady is really enjoying herself and is great with the children. She makes a connection with all the kids and is genuinely interested in the people around her.

  4. She actually picked it up really quickly; something as simple as that can engender so much goodwill. Got to hand it to the Obama’s, they are great ambassadors for the US. They really show an appreciation and understanding of foreign cultures, which makes them so popular globally. Shame about the domestic scene.

  5. They really show an appreciation and understanding of foreign cultures, which makes them so popular globally. Shame about the domestic scene.

    WHat’s particularly shameful is that the root of Obama’s unpopularity is that he’s so appreciative and understanding of other cultures and, himself, multicultural. That makes him a cryptomuslim-marxist-nazi-hermaphrodite with horrible, anticolonial sentiments. Or something.

    • I saw this in the Print Edition of the Times, a British paper that really isn’t given to hyperbole. Couldn’t find it online best had to make do with the Fox online.

      “The US President’s former grade three teacher said that Mr Obama – who was known as “Barry” when he attended the Menteng One school in Jakarta – studied the Koran and went to classes on Islam, despite the objections of Ann Dunham, a Catholic.”

      This is from the Times print (had to type this out): “The latter attended classes on Islam while the Christians attended classes on Christianity, said Effendi. Barry, he said, was along among the pupils in that he insisted on attending both”.

      To be honest I think Obama respects his African Muslim heritage as much as he does his White Christian one and made a conscientious effort to do so from childhood. It doesn’t say how old Obama was at the time but he was in Class 1, which would have made him 7 years old. Also what people obscure is that technically Obama’s father was an Apostate from Islam. It would be very interesting (and controversial) how traditional Islamic Jurisprudence actually views someone of Obama’s status.

      In my opinion it all started when he swore in as “Barack Hussein Obama”; he should have omitted the middle name from his inauguration and play to his audience. Though I suspect in half a century or so having a Muslim president will be seen in the same way as having a Catholic president when the Far East emerges as a global hegemon; then we’ll all be stressing the “Abrahamic unity” etc etc.

  6. Where are Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia? They would have fit right in and loved it. I always thought they were very desi-looking.

  7. Dr. A,

    Though normally I would have not bothered assembling a response to a comment from a post that was closed before I could rebut, I think a number of your remarks were rather jarring, and in spite of the fact that my comment will be deleted (very rapidly I imagine), some response is required to represent this dissent. (I made it a point to find the nearest related (somewhat) taz post.)

    1.       The point about cair and isna wasn’t regarding rumors about them (I addressed this very clearly above and you conveniently –or purposefully–misunderstood what I said), but rather, about how they represent all muslims in America/north America. It’s a valid comparison point because they represent one of the desi community’s largest faith groups. They obviously don’t speak for absolutely every single member of that community as I pointed out, so their legitimacy on that count should be no less than haf’s—irrespective of whether or not they asked.  You’re right, CAIR (or ISNA) doesn’t speak for you, but it speaks for millions of individual muslim american voices. I know the analogy went out of fashion on the SAT last decade, but I was always a sucker for the classics: 


    ISNA: Irshad Manji

    2.       No organization, especially one that accounts for millions of voices, can adapt to the caprice and whims of every one of its members. Ok, you want to speak out and represent your voice—fine do so. But there are thousands of others who recognize that if they want issues that are important to them represented, they need to organize. This means that they may often have to compromise instead of maintaining an independent, mobile republic of one…

    3.       The saptapadi (the seven steps in a hindu marriage ceremony)? Really dr. a, that’s such a tacky attempt to delegitimize what even you admit is a “relatively” tolerant statement. The saptapadi doesn’t exactly correspond to stonewall. Remember Dr.A, it’s not always about you and your views. HAF has to represent thousands of other hindu Americans, many of whom are far more conservative than they, many of whom are far more liberal than they. In spite of all these views, haf found a way to positively integrate the gay community within the fold of Hinduism and the HAF organization. It is a real travesty that you can’t concede that due to your partisanship (in spite of your denials about your views, your website pretty much gives readers a hint on where you stand on desi political matters)

    4.       Your comments relegating hindu advocacy to a second tier of importance to your chosen issues are indeed unfortunate, and do represent your double standards. The hindu american foundation also seeks to provide a voice to hindus elsewhere in the world (particularly where they are disempowered), which is why they comment on issues of importance to hindus around the world (kashmiri pandits, Bangladesh, appropriation of hindu heritage), much like other American groups comment about Palestine, Kashmir, etc, etc. While no one on the site doubts the bigotry that many muslim Americans are facing today (something that is certainly to be condemned), you cannot arrogate the right to assign relative importance to any of these. The fact that you think the political climate in America is anything even remotely approaching the extirpation and daily torment facing hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan, is astounding. Again, you are proving that in your scheme, all are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    5.       By your framework, AFSC doesn’t have anything on hindus in Bangladesh so they don’t represent my views, are therefore not universalist enough, and therefore illegitimate…http://afsc.org/our-work

    6.       By your own admission, you note you are not appropriately informed, so how are you in a position to comment on whether or not the yoga efforts are appropriate, or the textbook suit legitimate when you don’t even have an understanding of the issues that inform them and why they may be important to hindu Americans?

    7.       You really aren’t in a position to comment on whether or not people are or are not likely to talk about hindu rights because you aren’t making that caveat in good faith. Plenty of groups advocate on Palestinian human rights in spite of obvious political motivations, yet plenty of other people continue to talk about that human rights issue. Given your own well known allergy to hindu issues of substance, I think you should be very careful about attempting to delegitimize the efforts of others including haf(you adopted a previous statement as your own which even you conceded). You declare that haf has gotten you to speak out about Hinduism—ok good—but instead of trying to deride the organization and its efforts on political counts, contest on the specificsàwhich you have failed to do here (saying that the textbook issue was imported from India is meaningless since there were very local concerns which I reiterated). Again, you conceded it was a pity you were not “more informed” on these counts. Perhaps therein lies a starting point for you…

    Adieu (or as you’ve previously written: “In Solidarity”)

  8. And Round 1 goes to Satyajit Wry (well it went to him by default on the other thread when Dr. A dissembled and diverted attention from the actual questions asked of him and quit while behind:) ).

    Shame, it was an interesting discussion.