Kamala Harris recounts childhood visits to India, says classes learnt are massive motive ‘why I am where I am today’



The California Senator remembered how she and her grandfather would go on long walks in erstwhile Madras

Washington: Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris on Saturday took a trip down memory lane, recalling her mother’s attempts to “instil a love of good idli” in her and sister Maya and “long walks” with her grandfather in Chennai.

Speaking during an event by ‘South Asians of Biden’, Harris extended wishes on India’s Independence Day and said Indian and US communities are bound together by so much more than their shared history and culture.

“When my mother Shyamala [Gopalan] stepped off a plane in California as a 19-year-old, she didn’t have much in way of belongings but she carried with her lessons from home, including ones she’d learned from her parents,” she said.

Harris said that her mother, a Tamil Indian-American who became a leading cancer researcher and activist, would take her and sister Maya to India because she wanted her daughters to understand where she had come from.

The California Senator remembered how she and her grandfather would go on long walks in what was then called Madras where the latter would tell Harris about “heroes” who were involved in the freedom struggle in India. She said that the lessons from her grandfather PV Gopalan, a civil servant, are a big reason “why I am where I am today”.

“Growing up, my mother would take my sister Maya and me back to what was then called Madras because she wanted us to understand where she had come from and where we had ancestry. And, of course, she always wanted to instil in us, a love of good Idli,” she said.

“In Madras, I would go on long walks with my grandfather, who at that point was retired, and we take morning walks where I pulled his hand and he would tell me about the heroes who are responsible for the birth of the world’s biggest democracy, and he would explain that ‘tt’s on us to pick up where they left off’. Those lessons are a big reason why I am where I am today,” she added.

Harris, who recently was picked by Joe Biden as his running mate, will become not only the first Black woman with the ticket also the first Indian-American ancestry.

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