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Akie Abe’s visit triggers melee in Delhi Metro

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A SURPRISE: Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese Prime Minister, in a Delhi Metro coach on Wednesday.
A SURPRISE: Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese Prime Minister, in a Delhi Metro coach on Wednesday.

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Seeks opinion of people on the mode of transport being funded by Japan

NEW DELHI: Commuters on the Delhi Metro were bewildered when pandemonium broke out in their empty compartment on Wednesday afternoon. As a battery of photographers and camerapersons jostled for a perfect shot and a posse of security officials followed the Japanese Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe into a Metro compartment, the result was chaos.

Unruffled by the commotion, a poised Ms. Abe, who was on a visit to the Delhi Metro, went about surveying the Metro and even spoke to commuters to seek their opinion about the mode of transport being funded by Japan.

Dressed in a black and white ensemble with a neat strand of pearls around her neck,

Ms. Abe, who was presented her own Metro smart card for travelling between New Delhi station and Central Secretariat waved cheerily at the curious crowds that had gathered outside the Metro station.

Inside the station, which had been sanitised and sprinkled with a flowery fragrance, Ms. Abe was acquainted with the Metro system.

Shopping and sightseeing were incidentally not on the itinerary of the Prime Minister’s wife whose blog and stint as a radio jockey are well known.

“Short trip”

“It has been a short trip and I have not been able to go around,” Ms. Abe said about her maiden visit to the country. The visiting dignitary was, however, all praise for the Metro and said she took interest in Yoga and meditation.

The staff and commuters were able to interact with the Prime Minister’s wife, who shook hands and exchanged polite words with them.

While a woman commuter was surprised to have been asked about the Metro service, the station manager of the New Delhi station who received Ms. Abe was thrilled when the visitors complimented her on her appearance.

Ms. Abe, who expressed the hope that India and Japan would enhance their economic and cultural relations, also took out time to visit a group of HIV positive children at Kalawati Saran Hospital.

Apart from spending sometime with the ailing kids, she also interacted with the doctors and sought information on the HIV infection rate in India.

The Japanese government has helped build the hospital’s emergency ICU and contributed ambulances and other services. In the morning Ms. Abe, who has also dabbled in advertising, visited the Japanese School here and spent time with children during a playing session.


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