From tasting a slice of India's rich tradition of arts and handicrafts, carrying a souvenir for her daughters back home in Washington to interacting with her favourite audience of school children here, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama thoroughly enjoyed her day out at the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum on Bhairon Marg in the Capital on Monday.
Dressed in a green skirt and black top, she arrived at the museum around 11 a.m. after paying respects to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and left after spending over two hours exploring the museum's various galleries and sections. The areas visited by her included the “bridal chamber” painted by Ganga Devi and the folk arts gallery featuring the big chariot courtyard. Entrance to a Rajasthan haveli, wooden statues of Andhra Pradesh and a Gujarati pigeon house were her special stopovers at the museum.
School girls aged between 10 and 13 from three non-governmental organisations -- Nanhi Kali, Hope Project and Nanhi Chhaan -- selected by the U.S. Embassy from Rajasthan and Punjab interacted with Ms. Obama. Museum chairman Ruchira Ghose showed the First Lady around. “Michelle came across as such a warm and genuine person that all my apprehensions of the children being too shy or uncomfortable in her presence proved unfounded. She really loves children and took to them so beautifully. She hugged each one of them and went round the museum holding the hands of two children. She loved her interaction with them and answered their questions. The children too warmed up to her in no time and posed questions to her smartly and confidently. It was their big day out,” she added.
According to Dr. Ghose, when Ms. Obama was questioned over tea and snacks by one of the girls on what her dream was, the First Lady said she dreamt that adults like her should work hard to build a better and brighter future for children like them.
The children were also presented backpacks bearing the imprint of the White House and containing crayons and notebooks.
The rural artisans at the museum were an excited lot as they lined up their masterpieces for the special guest.
Among the things she bought were Kantha stitch-work bed-sheets, glass bangles, wall hangings, shawls and wooden toys.
Dr. Ghose said: “Michelle was really overawed on seeing a four-year-old girl Kavita doing embroidery work at one of the artisans' stalls. She also bought key-rings for her younger daughter who is fond of collecting them. But what really caught her fancy were the colourful bangles which she tried on her arms before buying. She also admitted her love for bangles and said she wears them a lot back home.”
However, amid all the touring and shopping and interacting with children, Ms. Obama missed out on filling the visitors' book giving her impressions on the museum visit!
Keywords: Obama's India visit