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The Nikki Hayley File

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist Melvin Durai. Email Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist Melvin Durai.
August 2009
The Nikki Hayley File


2   Number of children

4   Years as a state legislator

13 Years she has been married

37 Her age (she was born Jan. 20, 1972, in South Carolina)

83 Percentage of votes she captured in her re-election last year

$211,000 Amount she has raised so far for the governor’s race


“My parents always taught us two things: The best way to appreciate God’s blessings is to give back to others, and also ‘Don’t complain about it . . . do something about it.’” (MidlandsBiz.com)

“Republicans need to go back to what we originally believed in, which is less taxes and being accountable to the people.” (Politico)

“I know what good government can look like. I’m running for governor so the people of the state will know what it feels like.” (The State)


She grew up as Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa, one of four children of Dr. Ajit and Raj Randhawa, immigrants from Amritsar, Punjab. She graduated from Clemson University in 1994 with a B.S. degree in accounting. She worked for FCR Corporation as an assistant business manager, then returned to her mother Raj’s upscale clothing store, Exotica International, where she had done payroll, taxes, and budgeting at an early age.

She was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004, becoming the first Indian-American Republican state legislator in America. She has been re-elected twice and achieved another first in 2006 when she became the Majority Whip.

On May 14, she launched her bid to become South Carolina’s first female governor, seeking the Republican nomination for the 2010 election. She hopes to replace Gov. Mark Sanford, who had called her “a terrific and inspiring choice as governor,” but whose recent scandal devalued any endorsement from him.

She is married to Michael Haley, a technician in the South Carolina Army National Guard. They have two children, Rena, 10, and Nalin, 7.



Her official website


Her Twitter account


"Anybody who dances well is compared with Michael Jackson. The moonwalk made Michael reach from the classes to the masses in India." -- Nikhil Gangavane, founder of India's official, 13,000-member Jackson fan club. (Reuters)

"We have been articulating that India and its power brokers, consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or not, have a double standard policy in education. The upper castes and the powerful and the rich have no problem getting westernized and English-educated." – Joseph D'souza, international president of the Dalit Freedom Network, who wants more students to have the opportunity to learn English. (Wall Street Journal)

“Today is a historical moment where at least some tiny steps have been taken, but there is still a very, very long road ahead.” – Well-known chef Ritu Dalmia, on the Delhi High Court ruling that decriminalizes homosexuality in the territory of the capital city. (New York Times)

"The job is very different, as you can imagine. I'm wearing a suit ... and a tie." – Former actor Kal Penn, beginning his new job as Associate Director in the White House's Office of Public Engagement. (PTI)

"You can lead such a great lifestyle in India. There is the constant begging, pollution and sleazy casting directors that you have to be careful of, but it's all worthwhile. My career is going from strength to strength. I'm almost famous!" -- Hazel, 24, a Bollywood actress known only by her first name, part of a growing number of white British actors and dancers who are seeking opportunities in the Indian movie industry. (Daily Telegraph)

"To face down men in this part of the world, you have to use force," she said. "We function in a man's world where men make all the rules. Our fight is against injustice." -- Sampat Pal, 47, leader of the female vigilantes known as the Gulabi (Pink) Gang in Uttar Pradesh. (San Francisco Chronicle)



Barack Obama promised to bring change to Washington, but did you see whom he selected as ambassador to Belize? His old college buddy Vinai Thummalapally!

The folks in Belize had better give me a call. For only $9.99, I'll help them learn how to say "Ambassador Thummalapally."

Thummalapally, in case you're wondering, has no experience as a diplomat, but he did pass Obama's foreign service exam, which consisted of a single question: "How much money did you raise for me, bro?"

The correct answer for Thummalapally was "more than 100 grand—and I also told the media that you're the best thing to happen to America since Slim-Fast."

The Colorado business executive also donated $4,500 of his own money for his pal's presidential campaign, while his wife, Barbara, gave $2,800. There were no strings attached, of course, just a note from Barbara that said: "Dear Barack, Vinai and I believe in you so much, we're giving you all the money we had saved for our vacation in sunny Belize. I told Vinai that Belize can wait. Poor guy, he really had his heart set on going. He even read the Lonely Planet Travel Guide and bought a really nice beach umbrella."

Well, perhaps Barbara didn't send a note, but she and Vinai were probably aware that raising money for Obama's campaign could result in an ambassadorship.

Vinai: "We've raised only $50,000. We need to raise more. I don't want to be sent to Cote d'Ivoire."

Barbara: "Yeah, me neither. That would be as bad as going to Ivory Coast."

Vinai: "If we raise a little more, we could go to Belize, Jamaica or even Namibia."

Barbara: "What's so great about Namibia?"

Vinai: "I'm not sure, but that's where Angelina Jolie goes to give birth. Did you know that she's the UN Refugee Agency's Goodwill Ambassador?"

Barbara: "She must not have raised much money for the agency. I'd rather be a Macy's or Saks Fifth Avenue Ambassador."

Obama followed the dubious practice of previous presidents—Republicans and Democrats alike—in rewarding his contributors and friends with plum ambassadorships. A plum ambassadorship, in case you didn't know, is an ambassadorship to a country where plums are grown. Plum ambassadorships are considered more desirable than mango and banana ambassadorships. (Now you know why Thummalapally and others described their fundraising as "very fruitful.")

John Roos, a California-based lawyer who raised more than $500,000 for Obama's campaign, was appointed ambassador to Japan. Poor guy—if he had raised a little more, he could have been off to Paris. That job went to Charles Rivkin, president and CEO of an entertainment company. Obama selected him as an ambassador not just because he had raised almost as much money as a CEO earns, but also because he had produced the children's show Yo Gabba Gabba! and, as such, was familiar with foreign-looking creatures.

Louis Susman, a lawyer and investment banker who raised at least $400,000 for Obama's campaign and inauguration, earned himself an ambassadorship to Britain. Talk about a plum post. He'll get to have lunch with Prince Charles, tea with the Queen, and dinner with Susan Boyle. Well, one out of three isn't bad.

So what happens to all the career diplomats, the ones who have tons of foreign service experience, but didn't raise a penny for the president? They get sent to countries in the developing world that don't have the amenities of Tokyo, Paris or London, that don't have the sunny beaches of Belize or Jamaica. But on the bright side, people in these countries can be quite welcoming. In a few remote islands, for example, the people are constantly sending invitations to the U.S. Embassy, eager to have the ambassador for dinner.

Give Obama some credit: he may have smoked pot at one time, but he doesn't want any of his friends to end up in one.


1. Burger King ran a print ad in Spain that showed the Goddess Lakshmi sitting on a meat sandwich, along with the phrase "A snack that's sacred.”

2. On Kal Penn's first day of work at the White House, he was inadvertently assigned the email address Kumar@WhiteHouse.gov

3. Some lawmakers in India were caught on camera taking naps during a speech by new Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.

4. Air India stuffed three extra passengers on a fully loaded domestic flight, seating one of them in the cockpit behind the pilots.

5. A bomb squad in Columbus, Ohio, detonated a canister that airport security found in an Indian woman’s luggage, discovering that it contained mango pickle.

(1, 3, 4 and 5 really happened)


The website My Life is Desi allows visitors to submit short anecdotes that illustrate why their ‘life is Desi.’ Some recent entries:

Today my family (20 people) went to the beach. All the women wore their salwar kameez with tennis shoes. We took a whole big pot of biryani with us and sat on the beach and ate it.

Today, I was really hungry so I took out some strawberries. I looked at the bottom of the fridge and I saw a box of Cool Whip, so I opened the box and then I noticed that there’s saag and daal in there.

Today, I asked my aunt to make brownies for me for when I come over to her house in the evening. When I arrived, she had cooked chicken BIRYANI.

The students in my Sunday School class always complained that our instructor was too strict. So one day, he tried to lighten up and tell a joke. He said, "Vat did one milks say to the other? Vats up dhood!"

Today, I was unable to open the front door because there was a pile of shoes blocking the way.

For more Desi experiences, go to www.MyLifeIsDesi.com


India is fast becoming a military power that can cause any country to tremble. Not only does it have nuclear weapons and a huge army, it also has—here's the scary part—red hot chilies. Yes, Bhut Jolokia, the hottest chili pepper in the world, grows in India and could soon be lobbed at the enemy.

It’s no joke—scientists in India are planning to put Bhut Jolokia, about 1,000 times hotter than the typical chili, in hand grenades, according to a BBC News report.

The grenades would be used to control rioters and in counter-insurgency operations.

Scientists at India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) also plan to use Bhut Jolokia on fences around army barracks to repel wild animals. Perhaps they should call it Bhut Camp.


Arranged marriages can be quite complicated, but apparently not complicated enough for some Indo-Canadians. They're trying to arrange TWO marriages at once, as a way of helping a close relative immigrate to Canada from India.

As reported in the Toronto Star, it’s becoming increasingly common to see ads in Punjabi newspapers like this: Jat Sikh Canadian immigrant boy 29, 5'3" seeks an Indian educated girl. Only those families should contact who can provide Canadian matrimonial alliance for his 33-year-old Indian resident brother, 5'5".

They're hoping, of course, to get a PR Card (permanent residency) for the relative in India, hoping to play that familiar tune at the wedding: "Here comes the PR Card, here comes the PR Card!"


In memory of Michael Jackson, here are just a few examples of the King of Pop’s influence on India:


A Tollywood version of “Thriller.”


Kollywood’s Prabhu Deva shows his MJ-influenced dance moves.


Jackson visits India in 1996.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more]

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