Washington: When Joe Biden was elected as one of the youngest US senators in 1972, one of the first letters that he received was from Mumbai, with the sender having the same last name as his.
About five years ago, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee learned that there are five Bidens living in Mumbai, but is probably yet to make a connection with them.
The ‘Biden from Mumbai’, then known as Bombay, had congratulated Biden on his election as the senator from Delaware and told him that they were related to each other.
Biden, then 29, wanted to follow up on the letter and get in touch with the ‘Biden from Mumbai’. However, his family and active life in politics meant that this wish remained a wish, something he still wants to fulfil nearly five decades later.
The wish may have remained unfulfilled, but the 77-year-old Biden never misses a chance to narrate the ‘Biden from Mumbai’ story when he meets Indian-Americans and the Indian leaders.
The former vice president assures them that he too has an India connection, however, distant it might be.
In his address to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Mumbai, on July 24, 2013, during his maiden visit to India as the Vice President of the US, he went off-script to narrate his story of the ‘Biden from Mumbai’.
“It’s an honour to be back in India and to be here in Mumbai. Off script for a second here, I was reminded – I was elected to the United States Senate when I was a 29-year-old kid back in 1972, and one of the first letters I received and I regret I never followed up on it. Maybe, some genealogist in audience can follow up for me, but I received a letter from a gentleman named Biden – Biden, my name – from Mumbai, asserting that we were related, Biden had told the audience amidst peals of laughter.
“Seriously. Suggesting that our mutual, great, great, great, something or other worked for the East India Trading Company back in the 1700s and came to Mumbai,” Biden said.
A few years later at another speech in Washington DC, Biden said that their forefathers were same, who worked for the East India Company and visited India then.
“He (Biden from Mumbai) went back to our mutual great, great, great grandfather, 1848, who was a British captain in the East India Tea Company. And he married I believe an Indian woman. And he settled in India,” Biden said in his address to the US India Business Council on September 21, 2015.
“And so I was thinking about it, if that’s true, I might run here in India for office. I might be qualified (to run for elected office in India). But I’ve never followed up on it (the letter from Biden from Mumbai),” Biden told the Mumbai audience in 2013, who could not stop laughing at it.
“But now that I’m back for the multiple times, I’m going to follow up to find out whether there is a Biden and whether we’re related. I hope he’s in good standing if we are,” he said, evoking bouts of laughter from the audience.
In the Washington DC event hosted by US Indian Business Council, Biden said that a day after his Mumbai speech, a journalist gave him a list of five Bidens living in Mumbai.
“The next day the press, I guess trying to prove that I was probably making this up – because I never followed up. It was right after I got elected, and then some things happened in my family, and I never followed up. One reporter stood up and gave me the names of five Bidens in Mumbai,” he said.
“So, show me more respect,” Biden has told the Washington DC audience while asserting his Indian connection
“You know what I mean? I didn’t realise I had so many… And I haven’t actually followed up and embarrassed the Bidens in Mumbai. But the point is, it makes it even clearer what a small, small world this is and how this global economy is suited for, quite frankly, the two largest democracies in the world,” Biden said in 2015.
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