Prime Minister Narendra Modi given a rock star welcome by Brisbane's Indian community as he was ushered into the press-free event to unveil the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Roma Street Parklands (Brisbane, Queensland) in November 2014.
This was during the peak of the 'Modi Wave' and I had just come back from covering a G20 event and a few hours of being on Obama watch. In any case, traffic in the city was halted but it was also a Sunday so when I got news about the Modi event via Twitter, I knew I couldn't miss it. Regardless of the fact that the press wasn't allowed, this was a chance to really see the man. The 2014 elections was an interesting topic of discussion even in Australia. We even had Nirupama Subramanian come to our University for a talk and my supervisor had gotten me an invite with the faculty because of my thesis (my case study touched upon the elections). Keeping my personal politics aside, I persuaded my friend and told him as well that this was a one time chance to see Narendra Modi and we dropped our afternoon card game and jetted off to the Parklands.
I am pretty certain that the entire Indian community residing in the Brisbane area turned up. Here's the best way to put it: It was like being back in the streets of New Delhi. The Indian media also made an appearance and it was quite hilarious since many people recognized the anchor and wanted a selfie with him! Soon, even people who didn't know him were asking him for a selfie because they thought he was someone famous. Like I said, it was like being back in India. We didn't have to wait very long as the Prime Minister made his appearance. He didn't do any meet and greet but his wave was enough to gain him the loudest applause and chants.
A young woman asked me if I could take a photograph of her through through the wall with Narendra Modi in the background. I guess I took some good pictures because she was so happy, she started showing it to everyone around her ("I have a picture with Modiji!").
Clearly, the Modi fever in Brisbane was there to stay.