With US President Barack Obama set to land in the Capital on November 7, enterprising Delhi-ites are busy turning Obama mania into quick business. The city’s markets are packed with Obama merchandise — T-shirts, books, the Mobama necklace and even footwear.But, at least for now, there are few takers. "There are some customers who’ve asked for the stuff, but it’s not the bestselling print in the store," says Rajesh Gupta, manager of Tantra T-shirts in Janpath, which has an Obama-print tee on sale for Rs 349. At Rajiv Book House in Palika Bazaar, Obama books have made it to the front shelf but here too, the sales are dismal. "Who’ll spend Rs 400 on Obama?" says Rajiv Gupta, the owner.
At popular T-shirt stores in Palika, more than Obama, it’s his arch nemesis, Osama bin Laden, who is in demand. "People ask for Laden tees, but no one has asked for Obama. If a lot of people ask for it over the next few days, we may order some pieces," says Neeraj Verma of Mode International. "We’ve sold some T-shirts, but no one has specially come looking for them," says Raman of Sona Fashion. Obama chappals have also hit the flea markets.
Mrs Obama, on the other hand, seems to be faring far better. “We’ve had the Mobama necklace for a few days, and many customers have shown interest,” says Shaan Thadhani of White, the store selling replicas of the necklace worn by Michelle, made by a Delhi-based designer. These are priced at Rs 18,000 each.
Even Delhi’s clubs, which went into a frenzy when Obama won the 2008 US presidential elections, seem far from excited at his visit. “Maybe we’ll organise something, but it’s not confirmed yet,” says a spokesperson for popular lounge, ai.