MUMBAI: ‘Biden from Mumbai’. That’s how US President-elect Joe Biden often likes to recall the gentleman who had written him a congratulatory letter in 1972, soon after he was elected as one of the youngest US senators at the age of 29.
The envelope of the letter bore the postal stamp of GPO Bombay and in it, Leslie Duncan Biden alias LD Biden, had congratulated him on getting elected to the Senate and had told him they were related.
Capt Christopher Biden, who settled in India, seems the most likely candidate if Joe Biden indeed had an ancestor here.
Leslie was based in Nagpur, but since his letter had flown via Bombay, he would not only be etched in Joe Biden’s memory as ‘Biden from Mumbai’, but also become his go-to ice-breaker story in meetings with Indian-Americans and Indian leaders.
During his visit to India in 2013 as US Vice-President, he had caused peals of laughter when he went off-script in his address to the Bombay Stock Exchange to regret that he never followed up on the letter.
An article in an online paper claims that Leslie — who passed away in 1983 — had received a reply from Joe Biden nine years after he wrote the letter. LD Biden, the paper states, was an Anglo-Indian whose father was a photographer and whose brother went to England after India gained Independence. He married a woman from Goa and they had two sons and four daughters. Three of his daughters live abroad, while three other children passed away recently.
Leslie’s four grandchildren — who are based in Nagpur and working in other cities — are probably the only Bidens left in India and have desisted from making any claims of a link with Joe Biden. TOI got in touch with them, but they didn’t want to be interviewed.