Have you been wondering why there are so many tweets about Besant Nagar on your timeline today? The tony neighbourhood in Chennai is the talk of Twitter because US senator Kamala Harris, chosen by Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate, said her mother grew up there.
It doesn’t take much of a diaspora connection for Indians to thump their chests with pride, so an actual US vice-presidential candidate with roots in Chennai has, of course, got people excited.
In 2019, when Harris was in the race for the Democratic presidential ticket, she appeared in a video with actor Mindy Kaling, making masala dosas and speaking about their childhoods. The effort got mixed reactions—some pointed out that neither Harris nor Kaling have upheld their Indian identity in a significant way until then, while others noted some ignorance, like Harris’s comment on South Indian food being “all vegetarian”.
In the video, Harris tells Kaling’s father that her mother’s family was from Besant Nagar and as a child, she would visit and go for walks along the beach with her grandfather.
As the maamas and maamis of Chennai celebrate, family WhatsApp groups were reportedly blowing up with pride, especially of people with links to Besant Nagar themselves.
So of course people took to Twitter to joke about it.
If you know someone from Besant Nagar, Chennai - have they flexed about Kamala Harris being their neighbor?— Neeraj नीरज (@neeerajx) August 12, 2020
I was asked to Google and find which relative lives in besant nagar. People are this close to renting party bus and do drive by near their house and celebrate kamala. 🤦🏻♀️— Priya Ravichandran (@binaryfootprint) August 12, 2020
Besant Nagar property prices just went up 20-25%. #KamalaHarrisForVP— avataram (@avataram) August 11, 2020
Waiting to hear how I'm related to her. Don't take that away from me :(— Shilpa Rathnam (@shilparathnam) August 12, 2020
Cannot wait for Indian media to dig up Kamala...