This has to be a mistake. The president and Mrs. Obama are throwing their first state dinner, in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and I wasn't invited. It's a mistake because, unlike the usual suspects and Washington swells who have been invited, I actually belong there:
I look good in a black tie in that way that only men whose ancestry lies between the Straits of Gibraltar and the Gangetic Plains can. Sorry if this offends you, but the truth sometimes hurts.
I know more -- a lot more -- of India than the vast majority of non-Indians who got invitations: I've been to India and not just Dehli and/or Mumbai. I'm talking harrowing eight-hours drives to Rishikesh and places in between. I've read the Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharata, and the Rig Veda. I'm currently working on The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doninger. I don't claim to know or understand India but I love it in a way those swells with invitations don't and can't.
For what I've read about him, the Prime Minister is shy and doesn't like all the pomp associated with his office. Well, I don't like it, either! That makes me the perfect state dinner companion for him. While people are doing whatever they do at events like these, he and I can have a quiet conversation about things that interest him. I can ask him what he thinks about Bollywood's current infatuation with his native Punjab. If I succeed in making him comfortable, we can perhaps liven up this sure-to-be-stuffy affair with some Bhangra.
This would be change worthy of the name. Mr. President, yes you can.