You do know why we used namaste to greet you today, right? It is difficult to not know. Not knowing why namaste is the key word today would mean not knowing US President Donald Trump is in India with his family — wife Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Much before the Trumps landed in India, they had been hogging limelight. As soon as Donald and Melania emerged from the Air Force One that landed in Ahmedabad, people across the country let out a cheer. Now, you do know by people we never mean all the people, because not all people behave or feel the same way, not on the national scale at least. And certainly not in a country that has 1,375,233,346 people.
So, when the Trump couple emerged, not everyone let out a cheer. Many did, just as many didn’t, just as many don’t even know that the Trump couple have come, just as many wouldn’t know who the Trumps are.
But we must tell you something important about the Air Force One here since we (you and us) now know that they have landed and landed in Air Force One. Air Force One is the official aircraft of the US President. Air Force One and POTUS (President of the United States) are inseparable. So much so, that if the US President isn’t onboard, Air Force One isn’t even called Air Force One. And that is because Air Force One is the code for a radio call signal of the aircraft in which the US President is travelling.
Any Air Force aircraft flying the US President is Air Force One. This has been done to ensure that when POTUS is flying, the air traffic control can identify the plane. Today, this name refers to one of two highly customised Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, which carry the tail codes, painted on the plane’s tail of course, 28000 and 29000. Today, Trump landed in India in the one with the tail number 28000.
The practice started in 1962 when John F Kennedy was the US President. This was the year when the first Boeing plane made for the US President was introduced. The aircraft is white and blue in colour. And there is an interesting story behind the colour selection too. The designers, who were involved in the manufacturing of the Boeing aircraft for the president, decided on a combination of red and orange for the task. At that time, commercial image and design expert Raymond Loewy expressed his reservations with regards to the colour selection, to a White House official. The official, in turn, mentioned it to Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline, AKA Jackie. Jackie then requested husband John to give the task of designing the plane’s exterior to Raymond. It was Raymond who chose blue and white for Air Force One. And we thought Raymond was only ‘making’ The Complete Man since 1925!
Now, when world leaders go visiting the world, whether in Air Force One or Air Force Two or whatever else they have at their disposal, their clothes tend to draw a lot of attention too. So, the first thing people noticed was that the Trump couple had had a change of clothes while onboard. When you are travelling for 14-plus hours and you know that when you get off, all eyes are going to be glued on you, you are bound to have a change of clothes.
So it looked like while the US First Lady changed her entire ensemble, the US President only changed his tie and ditched his overcoat for a lighter coat. He was wearing a red tie when he took off. When he landed, he was wearing a yellow one.
When it comes to fashion and clothes, we say whatever suits whoever, with the usual caveat: as long as you are comfortable in what you wear.
But it was the couple’s daughter Ivanka who, we say, made quite a statement by repeating in India the floral midi dress that she wore in Argentina, in September 2019. She changed the footwear, but decided to repeat the dress.
The dress costs Rs 1.7 lakh. You don't just throw away a dress even half or a quarter as costly as that (we're speaking for us here).
As long as what you wear is clean and hygienic, there should be no problem in repeating clothes. But if you like to change frequently, don’t suffer guilt pangs; remember, your choice is your choice, not someone else’s problem. That just reminded us of a groundbreaking dialogue by a certain Daisy Shah in Race 3, but we will skip that for today. You can see it here.
Anyway, back to Ivanka. In 2017, when Ivanka visited India, she drew a lot of flak for going by her choice, not of the dress, but the tailor (we mean designer). Do you remember what happened then? Let us help remind you. So, Ivanka chose to wear clothes embroidered with Indian patterns. The problem was that they were created by Western designers.
At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the city of Hyderabad, the US President's daughter wore a £2,600 dress covered with oriental-style flowers by British label Erdem, along with two outfits by American designer Tory Burch. All dresses had patterns that resembled Indian embroidery. Critics accused Ivanka of cultural appropriation. Now, appropriation comes from the word appropriate which loosely means take (something) for one’s own use, typically without the owner's permission. No, appropriation is not our Word Of The Day. So, what is? We will get there but first let’s settle the charge levelled against Ivanka.
So, who could have Ivanka approached for permission to use the patterns on her dress? We don’t know. Probably, Ivanka didn’t know either and so went ahead with her choice of dresses. Or maybe she did it thinking it would be a nice gesture to go Indian while going to India. Anyway, we believe so many years later, people have laid the matter to rest. Thank god, or whoever else you want to, for that.
Today, Ivanka sat in the audience with husband Jared during the Namaste Trump event at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad. The stadium was filled to capacity. Do you know what Motera’s capacity is? The revamped Motera stadium has a seating capacity of 1,10,000. Before the revamp, it could accommodate 54,000. It is the world’s largest cricket stadium today.
When Donald Trump’s chance to speak came, he too began by saying namaste and the stadium broke into applause.
So Trump began by greeting people with namaste and Modi smiled his broadest smile at that. Then Modi smiled his broadest smile at many things that Trump said subsequently. If you are saying namaste to someone with a smile, we say nothing like that.
But do you know what namaste means? Yes namaste is our Word Of The Day and yes, it is a way of greeting people, but what does it mean?
Namaste is a Hindi word that comes from Sanskrit namah ‘bowing’ and te ‘to you’. When you say namaste, you are effectively saying, “I bow to you.” Actually, you are saying something deeper. You are saying, “The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you.” So, the basic premise is that there is a divinity in each of us; some can totally keep the divinity muzzled under the evil, some less so and some can set it free; but it is there in each of us.
Now, many of us use namaste and namaskar interchangeably. Of course, most of us get the pronunciation of namaskar wrong. Remember it is namaskar and not namashkar.
Both namaste and namaskar have the Sanskrit root word “namah”, which means “salute or bow”. But namaskar is derived from ‘namah’ and ‘kar’. ‘Kar’ is in turn derived from the verb ‘kri’, which mean to do. As such, “namaskar” means, “I do the act of saluting or bowing with respect.”
So, you are not wrong in using the two words interchangeably, but like we already told you, you could be getting the pronunciation wrong. Listen to this, if we didn’t make sense:
Hope that helped.
Speaking of pronunciation also reminded us of the International Cricket Council trolling Trump for calling Sachin Tendulkar 'Soochin Tendulkar'. Here's more on that.
Now let’s get back to Trump’s visit. Not to India, but Pakistan. No, Trump is not visiting Pakistan. Normally, many Western leaders who come over to India, make quick visits to other nations in the subcontinent too. But Trump is flying back from India straight to Washington.
We don’t know how kindly Pakistan has taken to this. What we do know is that US Presidents visit Pakistan only when there is a military dictator at the helm of affairs. No US President has visited Pakistan when the incumbent has been a democratically elected PM. Not that Pakistan has had democracy for prolonged periods.
But since 1947, when Pakistan came into existence, rulers, elected or otherwise, have visited the US over 40 times. In comparison, only five US Presidents have visited Pakistan, which means on an average, a US President visits Pakistan after a gap of about 14 years.
Dwight D Eisenhower in 1959 during the rule of Ayub Khan; Lyndon Johnson was in Karachi in 1967 to meet President Ayub Khan; Richard Nixon was in Lahore in 1969 to meet President Yahya Khan; Bill Clinton was in Pakistan in 2000, when he had met the then-Pakistani president Rafiq Tarar and army chief Pervez Musharraf, who had seized power in 1999; George Bush visited when Pervez Musharraf was President in 2006.
Of course, it hasn’t been a deliberate effort on America’s part to visit dictators in Pakistan. US Presidents visited Pakistan when they needed Pakistan. No world leader travels just for fun. There are diplomatic needs that drive travel.
Amid the talk of Trump’s visit, we forgot to remind you that today is Sridevi’s second death anniversary. What a bundle of talent she was. Remember the song Hawa Hawai from Mr India? Of course, you would remember, but we mean, do you remember the song’s choreography?
There is a sequence in the song that looks like it has been shot in slow motion. You will be surprised to know that it’s actually the dancers performing in slow motion.
If you haven’t paid attention, watch this:
If you want to save time, you can just forward the video to 4.16 minutes and see the wonder for yourself. And when you marvel at Sridevi, do not forget to give credit to the actor’s co-dancers and choreographer Saroj Khan.
As we pay homage to Sridevi today, let’s remember Trump is in India tomorrow too and we will get you more on his trip tomorrow.
Till then, it’s bye from us.