He is the Indian Prime Minister
He is a prominent leader
He is widely followed on social media
And… he is also a hugger (a bear hugger).
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Modi likes to hug other world leaders on their encounters (Modi has been written about in foreign media as “an unabashed hugger”.)
And he did exactly this when he met US President Donald Trump for the first time today. Not once, but thrice.
Handshake not enough for Pres Trump and PM Modi. pic.twitter.com/kTddIDWFv7— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 26, 2017
Donning a black bandh gala, Modi greeted Trump with a nodding handshake and a warm bear hug on his arrival and then went on to meet First Lady Melania Trump.
Moving on to their joint statement in the Rose Garden, Modi wrapped his arms around Trump in an embrace, while placing his head slightly on his chest. A minute after the warm hug was the lingering handshake. Modi with both his hands shook Trump’s hand and went on to stretch it until their hands hanged in between like a movie poster showing dying love between two lovers.
Pres. Trump, Prime Minister Modi share a hug following Trump’s remarks at the White House https://t.co/STbsygKfU2 pic.twitter.com/KQyNOwrlvW— ABC News (@ABC) June 26, 2017
! Modi goes in for the Trump hug pic.twitter.com/CIri99limz— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 26, 2017
After the bear hugs and a brief joint statement, came another embrace. This was the final hug where Modi rested his head on Trump’s chest while the latter patted him on the back and there, social media had got its stock of meme-eligible photos and videos.
Modi deals with Trump handshake by pulling him into brief hug. Interesting strategy. #ModiTrumpHandshake #ModiMeetsTrump pic.twitter.com/4A2WfFDT2o— Rob McDonagh (@RobMcD) June 26, 2017
After dinner, Pres & Mrs Trump escort PM Modi to his limousine to bid farewell with another hug. (Three by my count). pic.twitter.com/O7yqNVQ0zX— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 26, 2017
Modi gives Trump a big hug, head on his chest.— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) June 26, 2017
The camaraderie between Modi and Trump was on full display as the two leaders heaped praises on each other, voiced appreciation for each other’s leadership topped with frequent handshakes and hugs. And it wasn’t lost on Americans and the American media.
Trumps bid farewell to India’s PM Modi. “Just don’t hug me” says Trump. pic.twitter.com/WzgSqMn13G— TRUMP 24/7 (@MichaelDelauzon) June 27, 2017
Find you someone who will hug you like Indian PM Modi just hugged President Trump pic.twitter.com/fg7ABaA8OS— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) June 26, 2017
Watch Modi execute the double-handed pull on the hug exit. Concentrated force on opponent’s point of weakness. The work of a true craftsman https://t.co/SC2DEY7vrG— Tom Gara (@tomgara) June 26, 2017
Indian Prime Minister Modi was so moved by President Trump’s remarks that he came over to give him a big hug. pic.twitter.com/kFGmydQZQf— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) June 26, 2017
Modi dodges notorious Trump handshake with a hug https://t.co/3rpAR3lBuF via @ABCNews— Dr Jason Byrne (@CityByrne) June 27, 2017
Pre-emptive hug emerging as powerful form of Trump handshake defense. Hard to overcome, strategists rethinking their approach after today: https://t.co/SC2DEY7vrG— Tom Gara (@tomgara) June 26, 2017
The hugs got prominent mention in the US press.
Nydailynews.com described the hugs like this:
Trump appeared stiff and uncomfortable with the first hug, smiling thinly and patting Modi on the back a couple of times. But it was the same folksy, effusive greeting Modi has used with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, and a host of foreign dignitaries and celebrities, from former French President Francois Hollande, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood’s Hugh Jackman.
Modi’s Trump card: Indian prime minister eschews handshake with president in favour of a hug https://t.co/jhKEqnGWG6 pic.twitter.com/plw63stF4C— Telegraph News (@TelegraphNews) June 26, 2017
Back home, Indians who were waiting for the moment had much to say when the hugs finally happened:
Kitna haseen chehra, kitni pyari aankhen. pic.twitter.com/1wJt8oSJY7— Ivan Mehta (@IndianIdle) June 27, 2017
When someone pays for your lunch. #ModiMeetsTrump pic.twitter.com/orphquchHw— Sand-d Singh (@Sand_In_Deed) June 27, 2017
Bhabhi ji nahi aayi ?? pic.twitter.com/YJaiN3Ku6M— Sarkarsm ✘ (@thebakwaashour) June 26, 2017
The Modi-Trump bear hug did eventually happen at the White House! Jaadu ki Jappi against Islamist terror? pic.twitter.com/ELu4W36cLV— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) June 26, 2017
(Feature image source: Reuters)