Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama: The South Asian Angle

Sohale Siddiqi (also Hal Siddiqi) was the best friend and roommate of Barack Obama while he attended Columbia University in the early 1980s. He is identified as “Sadik” in Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father. Obama describes Saddiqi as “a short, well-built Pakistani” who smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine. Siddiqi was from Karachi, Pakistan and came to America from London on a tourist visa. He overstayed his visa becoming an illegal alien.

Obama and Siddiqi would go out together and enjoy the nightlife of New York City. Siddiqi claims Obama stopped using drugs when he arrived at Columbia. Obama eventually moved out when Siddiqi’s partying began to interfere with his studies. [Link]

Obama had an international circle of friends — "a real eclectic sort of group," says Vinai Thummalapally, who himself came from Hyderabad, India. As a freshman, he quickly became friends with Mohammed Hasan Chandoo and Wahid Hamid, two wealthy Pakistanis. [Source]

(Brought to my attention by SepiaMutiny.)

Not only were their wilder Indians in the 1980's, who look awesome, but our new President used to hang out with them in hood-ass apartments in New York? I've always been a fan of New York in the 70's and 80's - one of my obsessions. It's the reason books like Please Kill Me and the photography of Ricky Powell appeal to me so much. It's the reason I love the band Television. To imagine a young Obama living in Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights, two of the five residences Columbia lists Obama as having lived in while attending the school, in the 1980's in New York is just something else. He lived in Brooklyn before it was the cool thing to do. To imagine Obama living in the Upper West Side with a Pakistani wilder while I myself crashed many a night on the couch of two good friends in an apartment on 106th that we called "The Rat Hole" is another little way dood's brought hope into my life. And those boots are cool.

Oh and as for Sohale Soddiqi, I will find this Pakistani man and I will chat his ear off...

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