New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be addressing more than 18,500 Indian-Americans in the Silicon Valley on Sunday, but during his three nights of stay here he is believed to have met at least a few hundreds of them, if the steady stream of visitors waiting in the hotel lobby and pictures posted on the social media is any indication.
In fact, he would have met at least a hundred people and posed for picture on the first night itself when he arrived after a long flight from Delhi after a short stopover in Dublin, Ireland.
As several hundred people waited outside the hotel raising slogans amidst beating of drums, Modi came out of his secret service driven black SUV to meet his supporters.
Once inside the Waldrof Astoria, a few dozen eminent Indian-Americans were waiting for inside the lobby. As he personally recognised them, he called them to his meeting room. He met the group in three batches.
One of them was with those who were involved in organising a successful reception for him last September at the Madison Square Garden, which was attended by a record 20,000 people.
Modi, who before becoming Gujarat Chief Minister had extensively travelled across the US, appears to know many of them personally and enquired about their family members joking with them occasionally.
He also met another group of Indian Americans the same night to take inputs from them on various policy issues related to India US relationship. One of the community leaders said on condition of anonymity that this was about defence.
On Wednesday night he also met Aseem Chhabra of Hindu American Foundation, who presented Modi with a welcome letter signed by over 200 leading academics in engineering, liberal arts, and the sciences. "Kem chho Aseembhai?" asked the Prime Minister in Gujarati, seeking his well-being.
In all these meetings, Modi posed for photographs with each one of them. Both on Thursday and Friday there was a steady stream of visitors waiting for him to meet in between his various official engagement. Some time, people waited for hours to meet him, very few went disappointed.
For instance on Thursday evening soon after his dinner with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, which was the last official engagement of the day-long hectic events, Modi was energetic enough to meet a group of over 50 members of the Overseas Friends of BJP-USA led by its president Chandrakant Patel. OFBJP-USA, which had worked hard in his election campaign, was disappointed that he had not given him time last year. Not this year though. OFBJP members flew in from various parts of the US. Modi listened patiently from them their issues and concerns and then posed for pictures with them, which soon became public on the social media.
A steady stream of visitors was seen in the hotel lobby on Friday too ? the day when he spent his time at the UN and meeting various world leaders. Among those included a group of 20 Patels, who identified them as members of the Sardar Patel Group USA Canada.
"We submitted a signed memorandum to the Prime Minister," said Alpesh Patel after the meeting. The memorandum urged the prime minister to take action against those responsible for police brutalities and provide reservation in jobs on the basis of economic status. "We were supposed to meet him for five minutes, but he spent 15 minutes with us," he said.
Late in the evening, one of his old acquaintances turned up at the hotel unannounced. By that time the Prime Minister had left for a private dinner meeting.
"I have sent my (business) card. I am sure, I will get a call to meet him on Monday," the community leader said requesting that his name not be published. "He is a people's prime minister. This is how he works," the New Jersey based community leader said.
"Don't you get tired Narendra Bhai meeting so many people," asked his old-time friend Bharat Barai from Chicago on Wednesday night itself when the Prime Minister met about 100 people at the hotel.
"Modi smiled and said this is part of my job," Barai said.