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Maurya accords ‘bridal’ welcome to the Obamas
Times News Network - 08 Nov 2010

When US President Barack Obama  reached ITC Maurya on Sunday evening, it was not just the traditional Indian  welcome complete with the tilak awaiting him there. Two Indian brides did the  honours - part of Maurya’s ‘‘Brides of India’’ welcome reserved for visiting  heads of state.

According to sources, two women - one dressed in a Rajasthani  bridal lehanga and the other in the traditional Banarasi sari of a Bengali  bride - welcomed Barack and Michelle to what will be their home during their  stay in the city. ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar too was present when the guests  entered the hotel around 5.35pm. Paying a tribute to the Maurya dynasty from  which the hotel draws its name, ITC Maurya had put in place a beautiful floral  pattern around a statue of the Buddha - the dynasty’s most famous King Ashoka  embraced Buddhism after the Kalinga War - right at the entrance.

According to eyewitnesses, the US first couple exuded their  usual warmth and they ‘‘looked very comfortable and happy to be in India,  greeting the staff and engaging them in conversation’’. The Obamas will be  staying in a suite on the top floor of the hotel. All 440 rooms in the hotel  have, however, been taken over by the Obama entourage. 

The Obamas then went straight to their suite where they took  some refreshments before heading for the official dinner at the Prime  Minister’s residence. Sources said the engagement at Race Course Road was held  about twenty minutes in advance.

Though the hotel has put in place an elaborate Obama platter  much in the lines of the special treatment given to the Clintons - all three of  them have platters named after them - it is not yet certain when the president  will get to taste it. ‘‘It all depends on his schedule and which meal he takes  in the hotel,’’ said an official.

The platter, according to sources, is heavy on non-vegetarian  items and includes murg khurchan, fish tikka, sikandari raan, reshmi kebab and  mahi tikka. There is also tandoori aloo and Dal Bukhara apart from a choice of  desserts that will include ras malai and kulfi.

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