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Obama’s chapati,samosa meetings

Referring twice to chapati,he spoke jokingly of his keenness to create an ‘Obama platter’.

Written by Seema Chishti | New Delhi | Published: June 5, 2010 3:08:06 am

In his address in Washington on Thursday,US President Barack Obama used ‘chapati’ as a metaphor to connect with his mostly Indian audience. Referring twice to chapati,he spoke jokingly of his keenness to create an ‘Obama platter’ — in a reference to the Clinton and the Chelsea platter offered by the Bukhara restaurant after the Clintons stayed at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi on their visit here in March 2000.

The chapati and Indian food find a mention at many places in Obama’s autobiographical work Dreams from My Father,first published in 1995. When Obama returns to Kenya,years after his father’s death in a car crash,he sees the chapati (also referred to as “chapos”),at a dinner meeting with one of his step-brothers,Roy,and talks of the elder Roy savouring three steaming hot chapatis along with collard greens and cornmeal cake (page 360).

Obama would be perhaps more familiar with the ‘Kenyan chapati’,which most Indians would recognise as thin parantha. Its popularity in East Africa is explained usually by the presence of a large number of Indian-origin labourers and traders there.

On page 343,Obama meets another of his half-brothers,Mark,in downtown Nairobi at an Indian restaurant for lunch,and there,samosas find a mention.

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