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February 28, 2006
The five-star Maurya Sheraton hotel is just about ready for the arrival of US President George W Bush in New Delhi tomorrow. He is the first Republican president to visit India in 37 years.
Indian and US flags flutter in harmony in the breeze along the driveway.
Sniffer dogs and detectives have done rounds and rounds of the hotel. Fire drills have been conducted. Sentries stand watchful on the perimeter of the hotel.
From tomorrow Bush's entourage will take over the entire hotel including the restaurants, like the famous tandoor food eatery Bukhara where Bill Clinton dined with great gusto in 2000 on his first trip to India. Bush may not dine at the Bukhara because he is said not to be a fan of Indian food.
Bush will occupy the hotel's presidential suite, named the Chandragupta Suite, where US President Bill Clinton stayed when he was in India on his first and only official visit. The decor in the Chandragupta suite reflects the Mauryan period in India's history and it is 2,500 sq feet in size (about the size of a large Delhi or Mumbai flat). But there is speculation that he may stay in another bigger and fancier and newer suite and not in Clinton's suite.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will also stay at the Maurya Sheraton.
Photographs: Prakash Singh/Getty Images