This is old hat by now but I realised I never uploaded this piece of immortal prose on my blog –
The US is to shortly have a new President, provided the present incumbent makes way. The new Vice-President is a woman who has a Madras connect and, the city, so The Man from Madras Musings notes, has made much out of it. Uncles, aunts and distant relatives have begun crawling out of the woodwork. Some artistes put together a cringeworthy message wishing her all the best. It is still early days, and more will come sooner than later. Our party in power, with its legacy of women in leadership was first off to congratulate. The Leader of the Opposition too added his best wishes. It of course remains to be seen if the lady in question acknowledges Madras or Chennai in her growth story. There are some who dismiss that single reference to aunts in Madras in a speech as a mere electoral stunt.
But what is surprising is the way the city began to look upon President-elect Biden as a forgotten son or something equivalent to that. It all began with an innocuous statement made by the man in 2013 or so, to the effect that he was descended of a George Biden who worked for the East India Company and married an Indian woman (does this mean the President-elect has Indian blood? After all he did not say that George Biden had another wife who was an occidental from whom his line was descended). Then in August this year came an article by a Professor in England who wrote on Christopher Biden in Madras and surmised that he could have been the ancestor. We don’t think so and for further details please see this article. It is during moments like these that MMM misses the Old Chief, who would have immediately established not one but several links between Joe and other forms of Biden and Madras. But be that as it may, there is no way a George could have become Christopher. Another aspect that is conveniently overlooked is that President-elect Biden is a Catholic, which Christopher definitely was not. He has after all a memorial to himself at St. George’s Cathedral.
But these are all matters of minor detail when a city has decided that it IS related to him. As soon as the news broke of him winning, the article dating to August was dusted and aired on most social media platforms. MMM received it almost a hundred times with a query asking whether it was true. MMM wishes he had an answer. And now to add to the confusion, this issue of MM too has a story on the subject. But what was interesting was the way the story of namma Joe’s connect to namma Chennai grew within 24 hours. In the morning it was more a question of whether it was true but by afternoon it had become one of absolute certainty. One Tamil channel spoke of Biden Sr walking on the Marina, conveniently overlooking the fact that there was no beach in the 1850s. Then came an avalanche of WhatsApp forwards – first of just the memorial stone at St. George’s and then of a portrait of Biden Sr, then a pic of the cathedral and then all of these together by way of a collage.
But what took the cake was a WhatsApp forward worth quoting verbatim –
“Though America Voted Its New President Mr Joe Biden not many people know that his great grandfather Mr Christober Biden served as the Chief Magistrate of Madras city for many year in the 1840s. He is remembered with a plaque at the CSI St Georges Cathedral Chennai picture year 1848”.
This text was accompanied by the attached pic above. MMM does not know who the man standing by is and in the absence of any other information assumes it is ‘Christober’, Joe Biden’s ancestor, standing by the side of his memorial plaque. Anyway, with a name like Christober, the man can only be Tamil. So, move over Kamalambal Harris. But what MMM cannot make out is how a Joe Biden, who is 78 this year, could have had a great grandfather who died in 1858.