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10 December 2023

Is Oprah Winfrey’s great Indian holiday a bust?

US talk show host Oprah Winfrey gestures during a visit in Mumbai, India. (AP)

By Staff

Oprah Winfrey comes across as a woman who knows what she wants out of life. But it seems a simple visit to India has ruffled one too many feathers for the media mogul, who appears to be in two minds whether she wants to ever return to the country that has welcomed her with open arms.
The first of the few dramas unfolded last Thursday, post Winfrey’s visit to the holy city of Vrindavan where a visit to the Ma Dham ashram for widows turned into a media tussle when her posse of two American bodyguards and about a dozen hired from a local security firm in India, allegedly roughed up some members of the media, smashed cameras and were finally arrested by the police.
A few hours of delay and an apology letter penned by the arrested guards, Winfrey finally managed to make it to her next stop, the Taj Mahal in Agra. But all wasn’t well it seems.
It was there that Winfrey was quoted by Hindustan Times, saying: “I want to thank (India) for my first visit here and my last visit too.”
When quizzed why she didn’t plan to come back ever again, a troubled Winfrey said: “I don’t know.”
Insiders are saying that if the humanitarian did in fact say such a thing, it was probably at a low point considering how stressful that week-long trip has been for the 57-year-old, who arrived last Monday in Mumbai for her first trip to India, where she rubbed shoulders with Bollywood celebrities, attended the home of Amitabh Bachchan and visited his new granddaughter, along with attending a party hosted by Parmeshwar Godrej.
In between, Winfrey has also been busy visiting the slums, shooting segments for her show “Oprah’s Next Chapter”, in addition to another special, India Experience; with her visit continuing onwards to a trip across Rajhastan and visiting the Jaipur Literary Festival.
However, it was on the sidelines of this very festival that has been embroiled in controversy with this visit of noted author and notorious figure, Salman Rushdie, that Winfrey changed her story and opinion about India again.
In a chat with CNN-IBN, the American talk show host, albeit reserved, seemed very upbeat about India as a whole, saying: “India cannot be seen in one week or two weeks. India is so complex, I would have to say it is the greatest show on Earth.
“India, I will be back again and again.”
Truth or not, Winfrey, who was expected to return to the States on Sunday is still holed up in India as she tweeted earlier Monday stating the same.
Maybe the stress of her marathon visit has finally waned enough for her to enjoy he great Indian holiday.