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Oprah Winfrey is in India! Awesome. I’ve always loved Oprah Winfrey’s talk shows as she manages to touch a chord in you at all times! How often I have thought of sending her a mail expressing my admiration for her and for the encouragement and confidence she instills in me through her shows! But then, I’ve felt intimidated and never got the courage to sending her that missive. Courage? How ironic that I did not have the very courage she advocates for women all over the world! I even harbored an impossible distant dream of being in the audience during her talk show. Well, I know, that Oprah does not believe in the word impossible. Maybe I should change the timid me!
Now, Oprah is here in India, closer to home! It’s wonderful to see her in our settings since she feels so real and lifelike to us rather than at a distant studio in Chicago. She wowed the audiences and the shutterbugs with her characteristic simplicity. Her magnetism is so very powerful that she had the masses mesmerized!
Seeing Oprah against our conditions and the manner in which she spoke about our way of life, made us to admire her many times over! She is so eloquently precise in her observations and non judgmental. She hit the nail on the head when she said, ‘India is paradox. People live here in chaos and calm both.” She was enamored by people having alters(Pooja rooms)in their homes, ‘People don't talk here religion but they live it". She could never understand the Indian joint family tradition, but seeing it in person, she was full of admiration, ‘But having spent some time, and having a dinner at a home with a family with 4 generations in one house, I now get it. I really get a sense of how really glorious it is, that this is a country that has no respect for nursing homes, because you take care of your family and you don't put your family in nursing homes. I think that's a, I'm most amazed by that.’ But sadly, this tradition is changing, with more children going overseas to work and parents are left in senior citizen homes.
It’s obvious that she adores interacting, talking and listening to people. She loves people. Hence, it is no wonder that though she admired the Taj Mahal , she was more fascinated about the people- King Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. She said, ‘The Taj Mahal is beautiful, very nice, he really loved her, I would like to say, he really, really, really loved her, to build that monument, but it means nothing, as you know, without the people.’ When asked if she was going to ask for a Taj Mahal to be built for her, she replied, ‘I think it would be completely unnecessary. I think my life has been the Taj Mahal, I think.’ Indeed yes! Awesome.
There must be a million reasons why she is a media moghal, the Talk show’s queen and so on and so forth. But, as I sat glued to the TV, soaking in her interviews, her brushing shoulders with the Royalty and partying with the glitterati, she came across as a person enjoying and infusing the adulation and above all being enriched by a unique experience. She is powerful and influential yet totally humble and realistic.
What touched me the most was her visit to the slums or rather what she said about the slums. Unlike the regular media people who love to sensationalize news even at the cost of humiliating and mortifying the victims, here is a sensitive and discerning woman who says, “It was important for me to go to slums but not show the worst of the worst, but show that people can live in poverty and still have hope and meaning in their lives,” She sees the heart of the people! ‘I'm a connector with stories. I use stories to connect people and show our humanity, not our lack of humanity.’ That’s Oprah- full of empathy, sensitivity and a very humane heart. She is indeed an exceptional and lovable journalist!
That is the very essence of Oprah, my role model and idol!
Oprah Winfrey: World's most powerful celebrity by Laila Rajaratnam