Carla Marinucci, a San Francisco Chronicle political writer, followed Sen. Barack Obama around San Francisco on Aug. 17 as the candidate raised $7.8 million from various events, including one featuring several South Asians, including Kamala Harris, the first South Asian to be elected district attorney in the U.S. From "Obama reaps big bucks at S.F. fundraisers":
Harris, the nation's first Indian American district attorney, said Obama's meeting was a landmark for the Asian-Pacific Islander community, which she said is increasingly involved in presidential politics.
Obama told the group - which included many Indian and Pakistani immigrants - that he is not only familiar with their cultures - but also proud of his lifelong association with them.
"Not only do I think I'm a desi, but I'm a desi," he said, using a colloquial term that describes South Asian immigrants. The remark was greeted with laughs. "I'm a homeboy."
He said that when he went to Occidental College, his first roommate was Pakistani. And in his dorm, he said with a laugh, "Indians and Pakistanis came together under one roof ... to cause havoc in the university."
To applause, he said he became an expert at cooking dal and other ethnic dishes, though "somebody else made the naan," the trademark Indian bread.
"Those are friendships which have lasted ... for years, and continue until this day," he said. "I have an enormous personal affection for the people of South Asia."
"I've also had an orientation toward Asia and a recognition ... that over time we are going to see ... more economic growth" and an economic partnership with the United States that is strategic.
"If there is any doubt about his integrity and it's not just that he is rumoured to make amazing dal -- although I have not tasted it yet -- but he really understands the struggle for social justice and civil rights," Penn added as the crowd cheered him.
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