Obama wanted to wear Modi kurta

Last Updated 25 January 2015, 21:18 IST

US President Barack Obama on Sunday evening raised a toast to the Indo-US "dosti" at a banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee, saying he wanted to wear "Modi kurta."

"Namaste India... I want to thank you for not making me dance again, What I didn't know that he (Modi) once survived an attack by a crocodile, I was thinking of wearing a Modi kurta myself tonight," Obama said to a select gathering of distinguished guests including former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

He recalled that the last time he and his wife Michelle came to India, the media had gone to town about how they had danced. Obama praised Modi's work ethics and how he rose from a humble beginning as a tea seller, describing it as a story of India's democracy.

Raising a toast for creating new milestones that further strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between India and the US, President Pranab Mukherjee said "Your (Obama's) presence at our cherished Republic Day Parade tomorrow will demonstrate to the world, the growing ties of friendship and trust that bind our two democracies closely." The US president wore a dark suit and tie, Michelle Obama wore a dress in bright floral print. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wore a grey bandgala. Earlier, Obama told Mukherjee that the Rashtrapati Bhavan looked "spectacular" with lights on for the Republic Day.

Mukherjee said "we have advanced illumination by a day for you only so that you could see it." He told Obama that illumination of Rashtrapati Bhavan was done only on January 26 evening of Republic Day till the Beating Retreat on January 29. "We wanted you to see this," he said.

As the two leaders went inside the 1929-historic architecture, the US president said he had visited the presidential palace earlier but this time it was looking wonderful and spectacular with the lights on.

President Obama's entire delegation attended the dinner. The National Security Adviser, the three service chiefs and diplomats from both countries were also present.

The menu had the best of Indian cuisine, including a kabab platter that features Galauti Kebab, Soufiyans fish tikka and chicken malai tikka and for vegetarians, dahi kabab, tandoori mushroom and hariyali kabab.There was a broccoli and walnut soup and mustard fish curry, roast leg of mutton, mutton Rogan josh, chicken korma, Kashmiri delicacy Gushtaba, Dal Raisina, aachari paneer, Bedmi aloo, Kadhi Pakora, chhole, papad, pulao, tandoori roti and naan.

(Published 25 January 2015, 21:18 IST)

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