Watching the prime minister in America is unlike watching him elsewhere. Narendra Modi is a different person there. At home or in our neighbourhood, he is very much the Leader: deliberate, unsmiling and over-produced like someone soaked overnight in gravitas. When he makes a stump speech, he is more animated but you have to be on his side to enjoy it because it is a taunting animation. His rhetorical control in Hindi is remarkable, given it isn't his mother tongue. This isn't the routine Hindi-fluency of the RSS pracharak because in campaign mode, Modi's spoken Hindi can be robustly Hindustani. Advani was fluent but it was a stranger's fluency: too shuddh to be rousing, made faintly absurd by the prissy delivery. Even when he was touring UP in his pink chariot whipping up a frenzy over the Babri Masjid, he wasn't formidable, just sinister: the bigotry of his message weirdly at odds with his gentility. Modi's public-speaking manner is variable: he can be colloquial and grandiloquent, masterful (when trolling his enemies) and tiresome (when congratulating himself).
By visiting the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington, Modi crossed a sacred line