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Updated: March 3, 2010 12:03 IST

For Obama, a common experience is a luxury

Narayan Lakshman
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President Barack Obama makes a comment to reporters about his cholesterol level as he passes a plate while siting down with other customers as he visits Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room in Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday. Photo: AP
President Barack Obama makes a comment to reporters about his cholesterol level as he passes a plate while siting down with other customers as he visits Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room in Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday. Photo: AP

While the regulars at his tables offered to not ask him questions so he could focus on eating, Mr. Obama replied, "How often you gonna have lunch with the President? Might as well ask some questions".

He’s got a unified opposition party trying to scupper his most ambitious policy. He’s being criticised for not being quick to fix an economic crisis he didn’t create. He’s feeling the heat for American soldiers dying in a war in a distant land; and bringing them back could lead to something worse. Give the man a break – or even better, get him some deep fried chicken wings.

President Obama today took some time out of his permanently hectic schedule to sample some the local cuisine and hospitality at Savannah, Georgia. On a trip to the Deep South today to announce his administration’s latest green initiative, the HOMESTAR programme, Mr. Obama paid a visit to the famous Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House Restaurant and lunched with some of the regulars there.

In a clear indication of the excitement that the impromptu Presidential visit generated, a sign outside the restaurant read, “Sorry we are full right now, please form a line and we will seat you” and hoots of excitement and applause could be heard as he was entering.

“Something smells good up here,” the President declared, doubtless anticipating that he’d be offered some chicken wings soon.

While the regulars at his tables offered to not ask him questions so he could focus on eating, Mr. Obama replied, "How often you gonna have lunch with the President? Might as well ask some questions".

In the lunch-table conversation that ensued Mr. Obama said, “I think we’ve come through probably one of the toughest years we’ve had since the 30’s, objectively speaking”.

He added, however, that he thought that the country was now at a stage where it was “out of the worst part of it”. The main task at hand was to make institutions responsive to new challenges as opposed to putting that off, he said.

“And that’s hard to do,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re like folks who have had a long party… then there is a little bit of a hangover and you have to… clean up and nobody wants to“.

Towards the end of the meal, in a candid moment, the President said, “One of things about being President is, you’re always in this boat, everywhere you go you’re always cramped a little bit. So having the chance to get out, go to a restaurant, sit down with some people – it is a great treat”.

And he couldn’t get his mind off the chicken wings. Even until the end of the lunch he could be heard muttering, “I’ll take a drum stick. If there was a wing I would have taken a wing. Let me just have one now, I don’t want to get carried away”.

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