A guy in a suit walks up to shake Bhalla’s hand, and a stylish woman — one of many young parents pushing strollers on the busy sidewalk — offers congratulations as she passes by, after which someone in a car hits the horn and waves.
“It’s been nonstop,” says Bhalla, a Sikh who is the first of his faith to be elected mayor anywhere in New Jersey.
The answer quite simply is that his father was diagnosed by the NHS within three months of arrival and was consigned to a life on benefits; he beat his bride up on their wedding night and was consistently violent to her until put on stronger medication. Sanghera's attempt to amplify this story falters astonishingly quickly because of a seeming reluctance, or inability, on his part to pursue the research: his mother provides few details; his relatives are unreliable witnesses and the author himself, amazingly, is discouraged from pursuing the facts behind a spell in jail endured by his father because of nothing more intimidating than a stroppy receptionist at the magistrate's court.'I'd made a succession of terrible mistakes in the emotional turmoil of a break-up,' he moans.
“This is a breaking-a-glass-ceiling sort of moment,” he adds.
The six-way, nonpartisan mayoral race in Hoboken, a vibrant little city across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan, was hard-fought.
Sanghera's life appears to be a lot less exceptional than he thinks it is.
And as for the author's love of George Michael's back catalogue, some things are worth keeping secret.
Bhalla, a Democrat, points out that he was not elected to be “the Sikh mayor of Hoboken.” But he also notes that his victory is “a historic and proud” accomplishment for Sikhs everywhere.
“It sends an incredibly positive message,” says Simran Jeet Singh, a senior religion fellow with the Sikh Coalition, an educational and advocacy organization in New York City.
'A memoir of love, secrets and lies in Wolverhampton' as the jacket blurb promises.
'By the time I was eight,' he proclaims, 'I had never been to a cinema, used a telephone, been inside a church, used a shower, seen the countryside or the sea, read a newspaper, had a white friend, owned a book, met a Muslim or a Tory or a Jew.' You can't help feeling as you read that Sanghera's take on life is informed by an outrageous personal self-centredness rather than ethnic conditioning.
How did his mother react to arranged marriage in a foreign land?