|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Clinton bought carpets, what'll Bush buy
Archana Masih in New Delhi | February 28, 2006 08:52 IST
Thirty six hours before George W Bush arrives in India, an array of Indian and American flags flutter from New Delhi's famous landmarks -- Rajpath, the impressive street linking Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate, and Teen Murti Chowk, opposite the official residence of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
At the Maurya Sheraton hotel, where the American presidential entourage will stay, the staff polish the hotel's brass nameplate, gardeners spruce up the lawns, men with cleaning liquid clean the carpets and polish the floors.
And the shopkeepers in the hotel's shopping arcade hope George and Laura Bush will stop by.
Just like another American president had done almost six years ago.
Bill Clinton bought three Kashmiri carpets from NCE, a shop stocking Oriental rugs and shawls.
A few shops in the hotel showcase their best stuff in the window display, hoping to catch the eye of the President and First Lady as well as the large American delegation accompanying them.
This time round NCE has already sold some 12 carpets to members of the US entourage already camped at the hotel. Ab Saboor Wangnoo, a native of Srinagar who owns the shop, hopes Bush will buy some elegant carpets too.
A wall in his small shop is dedicated to framed press clippings of Clinton's visit to his shop. He quickly shows us an album of pictures of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton shot inside his shop.
Unlike the Clintons -– for whom a carpet had been specially woven -– NCE has not made anything especially for the Bushes.
In view of the strict security surrounding the visit, it is not certain whether the shopping arcade will remain open during the three nights Bush will stay at the Maurya. The hotel and its restaurants -– including the Bukhara which was much praised by the Clintons -- will be out of bounds till at least March 3.
The staff at the Maurya refuses to divulge any details about the arrangements made for their guest, citing security reasons.
One shopkeeper noted that there isn't as much buzz as during Clinton's visit. With the hotel due to turn into Fort Maurya by tomorrow -– vignettes of what the President and First Lady ate, what they admired and what they said about the famed Indian hospitality –- will have to wait till the guests have waved their goodbyes from Air Force One.