Flip side: The invasion of Americahttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/flip-side-the-invasion-of-america/

Flip side: The invasion of America

In fact, so frenzied was the pre-visit coverage that there was talk of renaming it Times Now Square.

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Still, before Modi had begun his visit, there was a desperate search for people to interview and news stories to justify their presence.

The invasion of America

The last time America was invaded by so many was during the Pearl Harbor attack. Well before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in New York, Indian television news channel anchors, reporters and camerapersons had taken over Times Square, broadcasting reports and suggesting the visit was the biggest thing to hit America since Christopher Columbus.

In fact, so frenzied was the pre-visit coverage that there was talk of renaming it Times Now Square. Still, before Modi had begun his visit, there was a desperate search for people to interview and news stories to justify their presence. Some examples.

First TV anchor: We are reporting live from Times Square, which is not really square, it’s kind of oval, like the office in the White House where PM Narendra Modi will be holding a historic meeting with President Barack Obama to forge an alliance that could change the world as we know it. Modi’s momentous visit has created massive excitement in America. Excuse me, sir, you look like an important man. Have you heard of Modi?

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Innocent passerby: Well, I know a Cody. I also know a Brody and a Moody, but nobody called Mody. Is he, like, a rock star?
First TV anchor: Absolutely, you said it, and he’s about to rock America. He’s sold out Madison Square Garden, so that should tell you how big he is.

Innocent passerby: Really, what kind of music does he play?

First TV anchor: The drums, the flute. He was a big hit in Japan.

Second TV reporter: I’m reporting live from above Times Square and the excitement is already building. You can feel it in the air and in the hair (frantically trying to keep hair in place). The historic visit has already been proceeded by Modi’s Make in India lion symbol. In fact, from my perch, I can see a huge billboard on Broadway which says Lion King. So New York is already laying out the red carpet for Modi!

Third TV anchor: Excuse me, sir, you are naked and wearing a stetson and carrying a guitar. Are you protesting against Modi’s visit or singing his praises?

Naked Cowboy: I’m the Naked Cowboy, I’m famous in Times Square.

Third TV anchor: Well, Modi is famous too, and he’s coming to America to address the UN. What do you have to say about that?

Naked Cowboy: If you give me five bucks, I’ll make up a song for him.
“Modi’s the Man,
Look out Uncle Sam
He’ll be at the UN
And he’s going to woo ’em.
He’s the hope of the youth
I’m telling the naked truth.”

Fourth TV anchor: As the excitement builds, we ask a cross-section of Americans about the visit. Sir, before you cross the road, can you tell us about Modi’s visit?

Cross-section: Well, I’m very cross.

Fourth TV anchor: Why is that?

Cross-section: All this Make in India stuff is very unsettling. If American companies buy his promises and move manufacturing jobs to India, where does that leave us? We immigrants came here to chase the American dream. If I have to chase the dream back to India, it would be very confusing.

Fifth TV reporter: Times Square is the crossroads of the world. You meet people from all over the planet. Here is a very large group of people looking very harassed, must be tourists. Excuse me, can I ask you some questions?

Very-large group: No, we’d like to ask the questions.

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Fifth TV reporter: Who are you people? You
look familiar.

Very-large group: We are television journalists
from India.