How the Man in the Pink Turban Met President Obama

Courtesy: J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

WASHINGTON, DC—Till last week he was a virtual unknown. But now everyone is tweeting about the “Man in the pink turban” who nearly overshadowed [the] world’s two most powerful men – President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

What launched a thousand tweets, and still counting was the striking pink turban and a matching pink tie that Navroop Mitter chose to wear to a White House function last Tuesday and as luck would have it he found himself standing between Obama and Biden. The picture on the White House site sent newsmen hunting for the man who had been invited to give a “real people” feel about Obama’s announcement on the payroll tax cut extension. ABC News’ Byron Wolf was the first to find Mitter through Twitter.

Tweets haven’t stopped since. And the traffic on the technology start-up GryphCo, co-founded by him has spiked many fold. “If anything this (sudden fame) would give us a platform to keep talking about the same issues we have always talked about – like changing the things we bother about, changing the things we care about,” Mitter told IANS on phone. Mitter got the invitation from [the] White House after he responded to a tweet from Obama’s Office of Social Engagement last week asking how an extension of the payroll tax cut — about $40 per paycheck — would help the salaried.

”@whitehouse #40dollars pays for the coffee an entrepreneur needs to keep going so he/she can deliver those jobs we need!” Mitter, a motorcycle riding and nihari cooking enthusiast, responded on Twitter.

Mitter, who counts himself as an independent who admires what Obama is doing under difficult circumstances, expected to be herded to the back of the room and joked to his family and friends that they may be able to catch a glimpse of him if the camera pans. But when Mitter walked into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House, he was propelled to the front lines.

”I had no idea I would be standing right behind the President and the vice-president,” said Mitter, who is not an everyday pink kind of guy. He wore the pink turban that day simply because it matched his tie and also because he hoped it would help him stand out. And it worked. Mitter, whose parents immigrated from India to Canada, where he was born, and moved to the US, has degrees in religion and bio-medical engineering from Boston University.

He says he’s pleased with the White House outreach towards the Sikh community that will see it following up Obama’s hosting of Guru Nanak birth anniversary in 2009 with a possible White House celebration of Baisakhi this year. (IANS)


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