Guess who is coming to dinner?

Fine dining: Michelle Obama to plan event

The East Room of the White House  where state dinners are hosted. NYT

US officials have been at pains to stress that this plum presidential nod of recognition for India is meant to signal Obama’s desire to take their “strategic relationship” with India, described as one of the most important partnerships of the 21st century, to the next level.

To stress the point, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hand-delivered the state-visit invitation from Obama during her July trip to India.

Responsibility for planning the dinner falls to first lady Michelle Obama and her staff headed by her social secretary, Desiree Rogers. But it’s Samantha Tubman, described as “one-woman army” on White House’s entertaining front who works out the details.
Nearly everyone in government will pitch in from military branches to the State Department. And Tubman, according to the ‘Washington Post’, has already drawn up a 10-page document outlining an elaborate arrival ceremony on the White House South like when does the motorcade arrive, or who opens the car doors.

Starting with creating the invitation itself to compiling a guest list, a whole lot of other things too had to be tied up. So were issues like what would be the main course, what would be for dinner and which wine will go with what.

Flowers must be chosen and arranged just so, along with the seating, place settings and entertainment. Obama’s first dinner is expected to be the talk of the town, perhaps second only to his inauguration and the parties that followed in terms of celebrity star power and got-to-be-there fever.

Invitations to the first official dinner at the White House are the hottest tickets in town with many Desis, as the Indian community –– one of the most affluent and successful immigrant groups in the US –– is known as, hoping to get in.

‘Politico’ reported that talk-show celebrity Oprah Winfrey might be there. Asia Society president Vishakha N Desai has confirmed her attendance next week, saying it will mark her third dinner at the White House for a visiting Indian official.

While the White House is declining to comment, people with knowledge of the affair cited by the ‘Wall Street Journal’ say it could draw between 300 and 400 guests. The White House remains mum on exactly who will be there, saying a guest list will be disclosed on the actual day.

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