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'Obama spent the maximum time in Gandhiji's room'

By Sonil Dedhia
November 06, 2010 23:30 IST
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Mani Bhavan, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai, has many stories to tell. The quaint building in Gamdevi, south Mumbai, had originally belonged to Gandhi's friend Revashankar Jagjeevan Jhaveri. From Mani Bhavan, Gandhi launched a number of crucial movements during the struggle for independence that later changed the course of India's history.

Usha Thakker, the director of Mani Bhavan, escorted United States President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when they visited Mani Bhavan on Saturday.

 "We took them to the first floor to see the picture gallery and then to the museum," she said.

Thakker said the President was eager to see the room in which Mahatma Gandhi stayed. "The President spent the maximum time in Gandhiji's room. He was fascinated by the simplicity of the room as it has been preserved as far as possible in its original setting," she said.

President Obama told her that he was inspired by Gandhi's thoughts. Obama also signed the Visitor's Book where he wrote "I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to visit this testament to Gandhi. He is a hero not just to India, but to the world".

Sitting next to her with a faint smile on her face was Usha Trivedi, who had escorted Martin Luther King when the civil rights activist had visited Mani Bhavan in 1959.

"I distinctly remember that Martin Luther King stayed here for a day. There were no air conditioners and no other facilities but he was very comfortable," said Trivedi.

A lot of people were curious to meet Usha Gokani, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, who was also present during the President's visit. But she refused to talk to journalists.

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