Serving India on a platter to Obama

Presidential visit: Hotel staff are busy making arrangements to treat VVIP couple

US President Barack Obama’s advance team inspects Humayun’s tomb monument in New  Delhi on Friday. Obama is scheduled to visit the monument during his trip to India. AP

From a platter specially designed to suit his taste to refurbishing spa, library and rooms, the Sheraton staff are busy making arrangements to treat the US first couple with a made-for-Obama India experience.

On his arrival here from Mumbai on November 7, Obama will be accorded a traditional Indian reception at the hotel, complete with an “aarti” and “tilak”.

Knowing that Obama and Michelle are fond of seafood and chicken tandoori, the staff are readying an  “Obama platter”. Before this, the hotel has named platters after Bill Clinton, his daughter Chelsea and wife Hillary.

“There are suggestions to name an entire special menu after Obama. We are thinking on this line,” sources said. The hotel’s grand presidential floor is specially being prepared for the couple, which boasts of a library, a 12-seater private dinning room, kitchen, and sauna and steam bath.

The library is getting refurbished with new additions of books about Indian history and culture penned by celebrity writers over the years.

Obama is the third American President after Bill Clinton and George W Bush who had stayed in the hotel in 2000 and 2006, respectively, and the hotel staff say they are delighted to host the most powerful country’s head.

The hotel has also kept its luxury spa and Kaya Kalp ready in case the President and his wife like to use the traditional Indian rejuvenating therapies.

DumPukht, the famous Indian cuisine restaurant at the hotel, which was closed for renovation, is getting ready just in time for the high-profile visit. The other two restaurants – Bukhara and Dakshin – of the hotel are also well known for their authentic Indian cuisine.

“The protocol for hosting heads of states is the same. It is up to the visiting dignitary to make his or her visit different,” a source said, recalling how Clinton had broken off the security cordon several times, and had actually made his way into the kitchen of the Bukhara restaurant.

And the hotel staff is expecting Obama to be an equally enthusiastic guest.
As the entire hotel, which comprises over 400 rooms, is booked for the President and his entourage, it will remain out of bounds for the general public for two days – November 7 and 8.

One of the reasons why the hotel is a favourite destination of the heads of states and other high-profile dignitaries is its three accommodation wings which make it more secure.

The hotel is built in the shape of a “Buddhist stupa” and has an ambience that reflects the spirit of the country. The hotel receptions are adorned with the paintings of M F Hussain and works of Krishan Khanna.

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