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September 17, 2000
For Prerna and Nooreen, meeting Clinton is 'cool'
Savera R Someshwar in Washington DC
Ten-year-old Prerna Chowdhury was very clear. Given a choice, she would like to meet US President Bill Clinton. "I saw the Indian prime minister at an airport in India. And when I was nine years old, I gave a bouquet to the Indian president (K R Narayanan)."
Prerna, the daughter of consular official Jayanto Chowdhury at the Indian embassy in Washington, was chosen to hold the scissors that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to cut the ceremonial ribbon before he dedicated Mahatma Gandhi's statue to the United States.
Prerna, who is originally from Assam, was told only on Friday night by her mother that she would be one of the two girls waiting for the prime minister and the US president at the statue. "I was really excited," she smiles, as she politely takes a bite out of the samosa on her plate at the Indian embassy at 2107, Massachusetts Avenue.
She had a new dress – a blue ghagra trimmed in gold -- to wear on her big day. "Well, it's not really new new," she says. "I got it a few months ago, but this is the first time I am wearing it."
While Prerna has moved to middle school and the sixth grade, her friend Nooreen Sarna is in elementary school in the fifth grade. Nine-year-old Nooreen is the daughter of Navtej Sarna, press consular at the embassy.
Unlike Prerna, she knew more than a week ago, that she would hold the plate of rose petals that the two leaders would offer at the Mahatma's feet. And, unlike Prerna, she was happy, but not too excited. "You see," she explains, "I did not know that Bill Clinton was coming."
Nooreen too had a new dress for the occasion – a red and green ghagra choli trimmed in gold. She has had this dress for a year, but this is the first occasion she got to wear it. Nooreen also chose to leave her long tresses loose, with a tiny clip holding the hair away from her face.
Seeing Clinton at touching distance was, say both girls, very exciting. What was even more exciting was getting their picture clicked with the president. Neither spoke to him though.
None of their friends knew they would be meet the president over the weekend. Asked what their friends would say, both girls looked at each other and drawled, "Oh, they’ll just say 'Cool.' "
rediff.*com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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