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Mumbai gears up to receive President Obama

Last updated on: November 2, 2010 18:16 IST

Mumbai gears up to receive President Obama

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N Ganesh in Mumbai
Mumbai is gearing up to witness the spectacle of US President's visit

Nobody knows better what it means when the President of the most powerful nation in the world comes calling than Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who has gained a few days of reprieve from being ousted in connection with the Adarsh housing society scandal.

When Air Force One lands in Mumbai on 6 November and US President Barack Obama sets foot on the Indian soil, senior police officials barring the exception of Director General of Police and Mumbai police commissioner may not even get a glimpse of the visiting dignitary.

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Image: The gates of Taj Hotel being re-painted
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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The 'beast' will roll on Mumbai's roads

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Interestingly, it will be the first time when a US President arrives in India, choosing to land in a city other than New Delhi.

He would then head for the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in South Mumbai, covering the 20 odd km from the airport in his Cadillac limousine, which is rumoured to be referred by the secret service as the 'beast'.

All 570 rooms of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel at Mumbai and rooms in other five stars hotels have been booked to accommodate President Obama and the contingent that is accompanying him or already arrived.



Image: President Obama's Cadillac limousine

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Gateway will be turned into fortress

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As part of the security arrangements for the US President's visit, precincts of the Gateway of India where the Taj Hotel is located will be turned into fortress.

The hustle and the bustle of the Gateway of India with its tourists, hawkers, photographers and urchins will just disappear from the night of November 5 and remain out of sight till Obama leaves the city the next day.

For two days, all the ferry operations from Gateway of India will also come to a halt. Ships of Indian and US Navy will jointly patrol the coasts of Mumbai.



Image: Secret Service officials in Mumbai
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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Famed eateries will shut for a day

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All establishments in the neighbouring vicinity of Taj Hotel have been asked to shut down during Obama's visit. This includes the famed open-air eatery Bade Miyan, which is well known for its mouth-watering kebabs.

Besides serving as an accommodation for US President the Taj Hotel, which was one of the targets of the 26/11 attacks, will also witness Obama making a statement with respect to the terrorist attack and meet the survivors of the attack.

From Taj Hotel the US President is expected to head for Mani Bhavan, the museum in memory of Mahatma Gandhi where the Father of Nation stayed during his visits to Mumbai.



Image: Police guard the Taj Hotel
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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Celebrating diwali with kids

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The next stop on US President's itinerary is the business summit organised by the US India Business Council where he is expected to meet and greet the Indian business tycoons.

The next day Obama would be celebrating Diwali with city children at a local school.

Since it would be Diwali vacations, school children would be summoned specially for this rare privilege.

Later he will be addressing University students at the Town Hall where he would talk on democracy and India US ties.



Image: Kids make posters to welcome President Obama
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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Advisory for Mumbaikars

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Advisory for Mumbaikars

1. Stay at home and particularly avoid taking out cars on November 6 and 7.

2. Besides the arterial roads, other roads would also be cordoned off for several hours for safe passage to US President's convoy. This may lead to traffic congestion in other parts of the city.

3. The unannounced route on which the US President is expected to travel would also be freed of all encumbrance including parked vehicles. There is high possibility of vehicles being towed away even it is parked in a parking area.

4. Make advance Diwali shopping and stay away from Colaba, particularly Gateway of India during Obama's visit. Ditto for Mani Bhavan.

5. Do not even in jest have conversation on phone about any attack on US President as all phone calls and electronic transmission within a radius of 5 km of the US President would monitored round-the-clock by the Secret Service. Remember that Vikram Buddhi, an Indian student, is in US jail for the last three years on the charges of threatening the President by initiating an anti-George Bush blog.

6. Store your weapons, including licensed firearms, in a bank vault so that you are not tempted to take them with you on November 6 and 7. God forbid if you are caught with a firearm in the 'vicinity' of the US President. 


Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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