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Rahul Gandhi's Off Notes

The word "raga" is central to Indian classical music. A raga is a series of notes played over and over in a sequence of ascending speed, often producing a mood of forbidding austerity, philosophical detachment or otherworldliness. This week, the young Indian politician and prime ministerial hopeful Rahul Gandhi, recently nicknamed "RaGa" by the Indian news media, proved himself firmly in tune with this tradition during his long-awaited debut television interview. For the 80-minute span of the interview, and for days afterward, Gandhi had the whole country discussing his breathtaking and mystifying rehearsal of political notes in all kinds of sequences, rooted in a reason that could only be musical.

The interview was billed as "the biggest political interview of the year." After all, Gandhi, one of India's most powerful if enigmatic men, had never given an interviewer such access in more than a decade in public life. But the prospect proved more exciting than the reality.