Lady Gaga’s visit to the city’s NAZ foundation care home for children with HIV offered those present a glimpse into the warm and down-to-earth nature that lies beneath her glitzy exterior.
It all happened on a Saturday afternoon, when she could have been sightseeing in the Capital. Instead, Lady Gaga minus her pancake makeup and clad in jeans and a T-shirt, chose to spend two hours with HIV-positive children in the only orphanage of its kind in the country.
This zero-publicity, no cameras and minimal- security trip took place without any fuss.Lady Gaga charmed the founder of the orphanage, Anjali Gopalan, by calling up herself to discuss the visit beforehand and then walked in carrying the food she had brought for everyone - pasta, cookies, soups, peanut butter, bread and lots more - straight into the dining area.
“It was utterly refreshing and surprising,” Gopalan said. “Hardly anyone of her stature has done that before.” The surprises didn’t end there. Lady Gaga refused to sit on the chair reserved for her and sat on the floor surrounded by the kids. Most of the older kids were well prepared for her visit as they had spent several hours on Google researching her.
“Why do you dress the way you do?” a 12-year-old asked. “I feel it’s me, my personality, who I am,” Gaga replied. After the remark, she talked to the kids about how important it was “to be who you are” and told them to remember they could be whomsoever they wanted to be.
Just because people have traditional families, she said, doesn’t mean they are happy.
Lady Gaga recalled her own childhood, saying that she didn’t appreciate her own parents till much later in her life. “You are so lucky to have this home created by Anjali for you,” she said. The singer’s earthy and charismatic manner combined with the level of engagement with everyone at the care home floored all.
Her gifts to the 23 kids included a 64-inch TV, Play Station, videos and 3-D glasses.
“There was absolutely no hype about her and she comes straight from the heart,” Gopalan said. “Lady Gaga is well informed about HIV and told the children to take their medicines regularly and eat well so they could stay strong,” she added.
When the kids asked Lady Gaga to sing for them, she actually obliged, despite the absence of music or a band. She sang her legendary song Born This Way. “It was electrifying,” Gopalan said. “There was no music but her voice was so pure and strong that it made my hair stand.” Gopalan and the care home she has founded have attracted plenty of celebrities over the past decade. Actor Richard Gere funded the centre for three years, and pictures of him with the kids adorn the walls.
“The energy and light she brought with her have really perked us up,” Gopalan added.