US Consul General: Eaten at 25 restaurants in 30 days
The new US Consul General of Mumbai, David Ranz, shares his plans for boosting US-India relations, his love for multi-ethnic food and a home here that reminds him of New York.
David Ranz, the new US Consul General in Mumbai, has marked his arrival in style. A week after he took charge of the Mumbai Consulate office in BKC on August 26, he posted a special message on the official social media handles congratulating India on completing the one-year anniversary of the decriminalisation of Section 377 (which made gay sex unlawful) of the Indian Penal Code. A few days later, he took out time to pandal-hop during Ganesh Utsav. But his rendezvous with the vibrant Indian culture did not end there. His office asked for recos online so that Ranz could get a taste of Mumbai's multi-cuisine restaurants and historic attractions. So, a few hours before his afternoon meeting with us, he did quick trips to the Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and the iconic Aaswad Hotel in Dadar. "The experience, so far, has been extraordinary. I've also had the chance to explore Kala Ghoda and Jehangir Art Gallery, where they had an exhibition on one of the earliest representations of Lord Ganesh. All of this has been an introduction to the culture here," Ranz says, as he begins pouring his emotions out to us.
A native of New York, Ranz sees several similarities between the two cities that stand thousands of miles apart. "New York is a city of immigrants. There are people with multi-generational backgrounds, like me, and then there are others who are first-generation immigrants, like my wife Taly Lind. She was only three years old when she moved to New York." He continues, "Similarly, there are people who have lived in Mumbai for many generations, and there are others who have migrated not just from other parts of India, but the world. This multi-ethnic diverse society always fascinates me."
He says Lind shares his love for food and exploring new cuisine. "Part of this is because we both grew up in New York, where you get great food. However, I have never seen a city like Mumbai where you get a variety of food. In the one month that we have lived here, we have been to at least 25 restaurants."
Ranz will be promoting US-India relations and progress towards common goals through information outreach, dialogue and exchange in western and central India, including the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Goa. "When a leader arrives in a new place, he needs to figure the land and learn more about where to focus his attention. So, in the first few months my goal is to get the feel of the country. We have a huge consulate office in Mumbai, with about 400 employees—one of the largest consular services operational in the world."
David Ranz at Aaswad. Pic courtesy/Instagram
Ranz's priorities during his term here will be to see how the US government can work on the issue of women's empowerment in India. "Female participation in the workplace is on a decline in India, and we want to help change that." His second priority is to promote higher education in the United States. "We have nearly two lakh Indian students in the US, which is the most we have had in history. So, we want to boost ties by encouraging more students to come to our country."
Interestingly, when Ranz arrived at the mid-day office, the Howdy Modi event in Houston had become the talk of the town. On being asked how he feels about the growing relationship between the two countries, Ranz says, "The fact that President Donald Trump made an effort to go to Houston and participate in the event is a clear sign that both, professional and personal relationships, are being developed between the two leaders. When the history of 21st century will be written, one of the biggest chapters will be on the growth of the US-India relationship and how it will benefit the world."
Before taking charge of the Mumbai office, Ranz served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives) in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. While back then he was deployed at Washington DC, he would oversee policy-making decisions for India. His first trip to India was in fact in September 1994. "During that time my wife and I had travelled all over Pakistan; we had our honeymoon in Maldives and also visited Sri Lanka. Just when we were heading back home, my wife said it would be unfortunate to come this far and not see India. So we made a quick five-day trip to Delhi, Agra and Gwalior. It was so amazing that we knew we had to make our way back here again. And so we did, 25 years later, as the new CG of Mumbai office," he chuckles.
He does miss his children, who could not accompany him here. "My wife is also in the foreign service, and in the last 28 years of being in this field, we have never toured abroad without our children. But my 19-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son are studying in New York." However, Ranz tells us excitedly that they will be visiting Mumbai in December. "My wife and I are having an absolute blast here. But today when I went to CSMVS, all I could think of was when my kids arrive, I need to take them there."
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US Consul General for Mumbai David Ranz speaks to mid-day