It was business unusual on Wednesday morning at Pandurkar Budhkar Marg, (near Deepak cinema). The road leading to Hard Rock Café in Mumbai was dotted with police in khakhi and a camouflage tank idled outside. The race to the White House was at the home stretch stage, and Mumbai was ready to cheer home the winner.
American citizens were present at a special breakfast party at the Hard Rock Café venue, where the last few hours of the US elections were being shown on a giant television screen.
The stars and stripes were flying everywhere, the red, white ‘n’ blue theme rose from the ground level above. Red, white and blue balloons were strewn across the Cafe floor.
US tri-colour scarves were pinned on to the walls. Hats perched on invitee’s heads had the colour band. It was rock ‘n’ roll time, as Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock shook up the floor.
The common sentiment was not that this was a party marking the elections, “what we are celebrating is US democracy” said several guests. “This close race, was an indicator of democracy, the voice of the people, the diversity of the nation,” they said Some balloons popped loudly in approval of that rather profound statement. Or maybe, because some guest’s high-heeled shoes punctured them while on the floor. We would go with the former approval reason, simply because itsounds better.
As the smell of coffee wafted all around, the Amreecans took it black, many desis went for with milk (it was too early in the day for anything stronger). Barack Obama seemed to be edging towards champagne time though, as initial reports stated that he was on his way to a second term.
Said Sherlyn Williams, a party attendee who invited a frenzy of flashbulbs with her Statue of Liberty attire, “I am an American citizen; I cast my vote in Mumbai via absentee ballot. I thought the pre-election debate analysis very interesting,” she ended, even as another horde of photographers moved towards her. “I worked so hard on my costume,” she laughed.
For Jessica Ranucci, from Massachusetts who was holidaying in Mumbai and cast her vote by absentee ballot, this election, “was negative, a lot of mean ads and some viciousness” in the campaign.
She spoke about how Mitt Romney may have lost women supporters because of his remark about “binders full of women.” This was Romney’s answer in the second phase of the presidential debate when he was asked how he would rectify inequalities at the workplace.
Romney had answered that he had “binders full of women” being brought to him when he was governor. That remark went viral on Twitter. Another Republican candidate had a foot-in-the-mouth comment by referring to pregnancies resulting from rape as “something God intended to happen.”
Jessica agreed that though remarks like these could not be solely responsible for a candidate’s defeat, they could play some role. Changing tack she said, “There is so much excitement right now in the US, I spoke to my parents back in the US it is close to midnight there now,” smiled the law student.
Kapil Gupta, Information Officer with the US Consulate in Mumbai stated that, “In Mumbai there were over 300 votes cast for the elections,” while US Consul General, Mumbai, Peter Haas stated, “I feel the excitement right here at this venue, we have created that in this city.”
By this time, people were dancing to Bruce Springsteen’s, ‘Born in the USA’. Haas joked before Romney began his speech conceding defeat, “I think Uncle Sam has won the election.” Cheers rang out for one Mr. James Kania, dressed as Uncle Sam.
Party-goers turned to the breakfast table, replete with eggs, pancakes, waffles and a cereal station. As honey dripped on to pancakes ‘n’ waffles one thought Obama would surely be savouring a victory sweeter than waffles smothered in liquid gold. When guests traipsed outside, our city’s police looked bemused at the plastic hats on heads. Aiga! Obama jinklaa.
*For more on Obama’s victory see pages: 18-19