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Aapka swagat hai, says Obama

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Washington, DC: It was the hottest ticket. The Obamas’ first State dinner in the White House.

As he welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, to his home, President Barack Obama said: “Aapka swagat hai.”

The theme was Indian, in honor of the guest. The clothes people wore - Michelle Obama’s dress was made by Indian-born designer Naeem Khan. On the Red Carpet, there were many saris - Doctor Sanjay Gupta’s wife wore one. TV anchor Katie Couric wore a brocade stole and a Congresswoman had turned up in a salwar kameez.

The color scheme — the purple flowers  — were a tribute to the peacock.

“The food will showcase the best of American cooking and include fresh ingredients and herbs from the White House garden,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.

And the entertainment — there was A. R. Rahman. Of course, Dr Singh also got a taste of Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s music.
The guest list, like the dinner China from the Clinton and Bush eras, was bipartisan too. A mix of political, John Kerry, Bobby Jindal etc., and celebrity, Steven Spielberg and Blair Underwood among others.

State dinners don’t happen often. George Bush only hosted two in eight years in the White House. They are also integral to White House diplomacy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would no doubt have been honored to be the first state guest, but more than him Washington has been abuzz with excitement as this dinner will determine whether the Obamas make the grade as Presidential hosts.