New Delhi: Outgoing US Ambassador to India Richard Verma shared some heart-warming stories in his farewell speech for friends before he left Delhi last week. He recounted his interaction with two Indian prime ministers, reports media.
The first, in 2012, was with Manmohan Singh and the second, more recently with Narendra Modi.
Verma’s father belonged to Jalandhar and migrated to the US with about $14 in his pocket. Verma said the family grew up hearing their father engage any Indian he met in conversation about the country he had left behind. At a certain age, Verma said it was embarrassing. His father would always find some link between the person he was talking to and Jalandhar.
When Verma joined the government and an Indian PM was to come to Washington, he was asked to meet him so that the US President could introduce him. The senior Verma called several times to remind his son to tell the PM of his connection to Jalandhar. Finally, the day arrived.
Verma was in a queue to meet the PM. When his turn came, the PM said: “You’re Indian!’ Verma said his parents were from India. The PM asked, “Where in India?’ Verma, now embarrassed, said: “Punjab.’ The PM then said, “Where is your father from?’ “Jalandhar,’ replied Verma. The PM turned to the US president and said: “His father and I belong to the same place.’ Verma said the incident taught him that one’s parents were always right.
Then when Modi visited Washington, the translators got left behind and for about 10 minutes, Modi and a top US official were together, with Verma alone in attendance. Modi started chatting, and after a while, lapsed into Hindi, instructing Verma to translate what he had said into English.
Verma said: “I told them a version of what the Indian PM said.’