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A trainload of surprise for Delhi

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A TASTE OF DELHI: Japanese Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe aboard a crowded Delhi Metro railway compartment on Wednesday.
A TASTE OF DELHI: Japanese Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe aboard a crowded Delhi Metro railway compartment on Wednesday.

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Japanese Prime Minister’s wife has a taste of Delhi aboard the crowded Metro

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

Unruffled by the commotion, a poised Ms. Abe, who was on a visit to the Delhi Metro, went about surveying the network and even spoke to some passengers to elicit 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 with her own Metro smart card for travelling between New Delhi and Central Secretariat stations, waved cheerfully at the curious crowds that had gathered.

Inside the New Delhi station, which had been sanitised and sprinkled with a flowery fragrance, Ms. Abe was acquainted with the Metro system. Shopping and sightseeing were not on the itinerary of the Prime Minister’s wife whose blog and stint as a radio jockey are well known.

The Metro staff and passengers 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 New Delhi who received Ms. Abe was thrilled when the visitor 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 during the day to visit a group of HIV-positive children at Kalawati Saran Hospital.

Apart from spending some time with the ailing kids, she also interacted with 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.

Earlier in the morning, Ms. Abe visited the Japanese School here and spent time with children during a playing session.

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