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'Obama did not show any self importance'

November 06, 2010 18:10 IST
Yogesh Kamdar, a trustee at Mani Bhavan, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih about President Obama's visit to the Gandhian museum.

"President Obama came across as very sincere and informal. He did not show any self importance. An admirer of Gandhiji himself, he seemed as simple as Gandhiji and by what I saw of him today he is someone who has imbibed what Bapu stood for," says Yogesh Kamdar, a trustee of Mani Bhavan, the Gandhi museum in Mumbai where the Mahatma stayed whenever he was in the city between 1917 and 1934.

The US president and his wife Michelle spent time in Gandhi's room on the second floor which was his working space and has been kept largely as it was in his time.

The couple also wrote in the visitor's book and spent about 25 minutes at the museum, which has seen many world dignitaries pay their respects.

Barack Obama also spoke to the trustees and staff at the museum.

"The president was very moved with the experience and made a very conscious decision to keep Mani Bhavan as one of the first stops on his India trip," added Kamdar who arrived at the museum in the morning.

'I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi's life. He is a hero not just to India but to the world,' Obama wrote in the visitor's book, while the First Lady noted that it was a visit she would always treasure.

"Mrs Obama was equally charming and very interested," Kamdar said. "The couple expressed their happiness about being there."

The bungalow, which houses the museum, once belonged to Revashankar Jhaveri, Gandhi's friend and host during that period. It was from Mani Bhavan that Gandhi started the Civil Disobedience, Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Khadi and Khilafat movements.

In 1955 the building was dedicated as a memorial to Gandhi's memory.

The US President, Kamdar said, displayed no airs about his stature and was very informal during his visit.

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Archana Masih
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