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Glee, indifference surrounds Obama's visit to Mani Bhavan

Last updated on: November 6, 2010 22:33 IST

Glee, indifference surrounds Obama's visit to Mani Bhavan


Abhishek Mande in Mumbai
Yashwee Baldiya laughs gleefuly. The three-year-old is perched on her father Dheeraj's shoulder and is one of those who enjoys a better view of Obama's cavalcade as it enters Mani Bhavan.

Her father Dheeraj has been running helter skelter just so he can get his daughter a view of the Presidential limousine if not the big man himself.  Its a promise he intends to fulfil.

With the three-year-old on his shoulder the father walks briskly from one bylane to the other.

But all the lanes leading to Mani Bhavan have been closed.

The closest the father-daughter duo can get is to a barricade halfway down the lane opposite the Mani Bhavan chowk.

Dheeraj is a 30-something man who works out in a gym nearby. Needless to say he hasn't been able to do so today.
He scuttles from one end of the lane to the other. The view from all places is all the same.

All along the daughter is having the time of her life. This is the most exciting day she's had. More than her visit to the zoo and that trip to the movies. She wants to know everything about Obama and his cars and what on earth he's doing here.

As Obama steps out of Mani Bhavan, the media and the public decends upon the barricades to get a better view, Yashwee and her father disappear in the crowd.

Image: Residents await Obama's convoy near Mani Bhavan
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/

Vijaya Mantri couldn't be bothered about Barack Obama

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Vijaya Mantri couldn't be bothered about Barack Obama. Her house on Laburnum Road, opposite the Mani Bhavan Chowk offers a decent if not a great view of what happens outside the Mani Bhavan.

Yet Mantri isn't in her balcony along with her son, who is trying to get shots of the scene with his Olympus camera. She sits cross-legged before an elaborate Rangoli that is only half complete.

With a steady hand, Mantri patiently fills in the blank spaces with colours. The television in the room is on as a Hindi news channel blares details about Obama's super limo 'that diffuses bombs as it goes along' in its usual loud garish style.

Mantri looks at the screen occasionally and goes back to work. She tells you that she's a commercial artist who used to be a textile designer 'before they shut down all the mills in Mumbai'.

Today Mantri spends her time working for the rights of former mill workers. On days like these when she's at home, Mantri likes to give vent to her creative juices.

"We have a rangoli competition today," she says earnestly. "The deadline is six pm. I'm hardly done," she adds matter-of-factly and gets back to work.

Image: Vijaya Mantri in her house opposite Mani Bhavan
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/
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