Bobby Jindal will change the world

Do you like lists? I love 'em. My favorites include "100 things to do before you die," "50 ways to lose Jindal
your blubber," and "25 ways to hide your bald spot." (No, I don't have a bald spot. I have a bald zip code.)

I just found another list. It's called "Ten people who could change the world" and — surprise, surprise — Bobby Jindal is on it. The man never ceases to amaze me. I mean, he's destined to change the world, whereas I have enough trouble changing my little son's diaper.

The list appeared in the British magazine New Statesman, along with a profile of the Louisiana governor and future president.

Bobby Jindal talks too fast. That, both admirers and detractors agree,
is the most noticeable flaw in the impressive presentation he offers as
the first Indian-American governor and perhaps the best prospect for
revitalising a Republican Party that has just started its tour of the
wilderness … [Link]

Come on, guys. He doesn't talk too fast. You just need to brush up on your Punjabi. You do know that he isn't always speaking English, don't you?

The man is brilliant. He speaks Punjabi, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, French, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili and Xhosa, to name just a few. He'll be the first U.S. president who can talk to foreign leaders in their native tongues. That would be a stark contrast from the last Republican president, who could barely talk to foreign leaders in his native tongue.

His rush of words is likely linked to the rush of his ambition, and his
ambition – at 37, just two years above the minimum to be president –
appears beyond restraint. He began his assimilation aged four, when he
announced to his parents, a civil engineer and state official who moved
from the Punjab to Louisiana before their son was born, that he wanted
to be called "Bobby", after a character in the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch, rather than his given name, Piyush. [Link]

You hear that? Bobby began his assimilation at age 4! The only thing I was assimilating at age 4 was payasam. Changing my name was the farthest thing from my mind. I was focusing on more exciting things, such as climbing the tree in the front yard, bouncing a ball off the neighbor's wall, and pulling my sister's hair.

He further adapted to his surroundings in his late teens when he left
behind his Hindu heritage and converted to Catholicism, a move he
chronicled in lengthy confessional writings while at Brown University
and then Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. [Link]

Lengthy confessional writings while in college? The only lengthy thing I wrote in college was a love poem to a young lady who, unfortunately, ran off with a man who had wooed her with a lengthy confessional writing.

After a brief stint as a management consultant, he got his first job in
government at 24, when, with the backing of a congressman he had
interned for, he submitted a proposal to reform the state's public
health-care system. [Link]

When he was 24, he submitted a proposal to reform the state's public health-care system. When I was 24, I submitted a proposal to reform my roommate's bathroom cleaning system. (His system involved staring at the dirty tub, shaking his head and shouting, "Hey Melvin, isn't it your turn to clean the bathroom this year?")

While many have already declared Jindal the "Republican Barack Obama",
the differences between the two men are telling. Where Obama has, after much soul-searching, memoir-writing and
Kenya-visiting, embraced his biracial identity, Jindal has sought more
to find common cause with white Americans. He loves McDonald's and took
to wearing cowboy boots during his second run for governor. And
although he married a fellow Indian American, some relatives in the
Punjab complain that he downplays his ties to his ancestral homeland. Where Obama was adrift in
his early years, Jindal was raised in a steady household with high
expectations and forged straight ahead from early on, showing up at
college in penny loafers while Obama slouched with a cigarette. And
where Obama has benefited from his eloquence and style, Jindal's appeal
is more workmanlike. He lacks Obama's big smile and, at 5ft 8in and
135lb, offers little in the way of physical presence. [Link]

Jindal does have a big smile (see pic). He may be small in stature now, but if experience teaches us anything, it's that the man never stops growing. By the time he runs for president, he'll be 6-foot-three and 220. An extra helping of Cajun cooking will do the trick, not to mention those cowboy boots.

Yes, don't be surprised if you see him on another list, this time in Forbes magazine: "The 25 most well-heeled politicians in the world."


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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. What a post! Very fresh and extremely humorous. Bobby Jindal does seem like a man on the road to change – at least in the way Whitehouse correspondents look at Asians.

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