More to Michelle than those dance steps!

CHARMED!

More to Michelle than those dance steps!

TAKING HOME A BIT OF INDIA US First Lady Michelle Obama with National Crafts Museum Chairperson Ruchira Ghosh. PIC COURTESY/ NATIONAL CRAFTS MUSEUMRuchira Ghosh, chairperson of the National Crafts Museum, is clearly bowled over by Michelle Obama. “She came across as an highly intelligent person. There was enormous warmth in the manner in which she interacted with everyone. She spoke to the assembled school children in such a relaxed way, hugged them and held their  hands. And, when these children asked her several questions she was absolutely at  ease answering them.”

According to Ghosh, Michelle was asked about her hobbies by one of the young girls, and she said, ‘My children’s hobbies are my hobbies. I totally enjoy what they like doing’. When she was asked about her daughters’ career plans, she said her older girl was still not too sure but the  younger was keen on becoming a  marine biologist.

Michelle spent almost two-and-a-half hours at the National Crafts Museum while interacting  with not just with crafts persons but also with  school children and the staff of the museum.

Michelle reportedly told  Ghosh that she hardly ever got to shop and therefore, she didn’t pass up the opportunity to stock up on Christmas gifts. “The First Lady shopped so much that she ran out of money! She bought key rings for her younger daughter Sasha, who is said to love collecting them,” Ghosh said.

Her shopping bags were full of Gujarati dolls, kantha work bedspreads, Kutchi mobile phone covers and Channapatna toys.

Ghosh said she was impressed by the First Lady’s knowledge of ikat weaves. “She told me that her mother-in-law, who lived in Indonesia for a while, had a wonderful batik collection and wrote about Indonesian textiles,” Ghosh said.

“When she went round the stalls, she was struck by this little Gujarati  girl  who making a  doll. Michelle bought  several dolls from the stall and she seemed fascinated by the  leather  puppets made by craftsmen from Andhra  Pradesh,” said Ghosh.

“She also bought a ‘Hanuman’ puppet and we tried to explain the significance  of   Hanuman in Hindu mythology, but she seemed to know the details. She told us, ‘I know about  Hanuman  because  my sister-in-law, Barack’s sister, has  lived  in Indonesia. In fact,  I have bought this Hanuman for her’. And when  we  were  going  around the special  exhibition — Shakti, which focuses on the crafts of the women she was taken up by the statue  of  Durga. I explained to her the  significance of  Durga and Shakti,  and the feminine divine  power which came into  force when demonic  forces  were  terrorising  the  world. Hearing that she said, ‘Seeing the situation, it’s time for that  feminine divine power to control evil’.”

When the Obamas called on the President of India, Pratibha  Patil, they appeared relaxed.

Archana Datta, Officer on Special Duty (PR) to the President of  India, said: “When President Barack  Obama observed that there are so many powerful women in top roles  in India,  Michelle commented that in the US they (women) are still fighting for fair play.”

With inputs from Ajith Athrady

Rare warmth

Priya Dutt, Congress MP and daughter of the late Sunil and Nargis Dutt, was invited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the private dinner he hosted for the Obamas. “The Obamas were extremely warm and courteous. They came across as very humble. When I was introduced as a member of parliament, Obama said, ‘You are too young to be MP’. I told him, ‘No, I am not, I am greying’. He replied, ‘Not as much as me’,” she said. “Later, the PM’s wife Gursharan Kaur told the First Lady that my parents were well-known actors. Michelle said: ‘Why didn’t you take up acting?’ and added ‘Well, politics is also some kind of acting’. She was very friendly and no had no airs.”

B S Arun

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