The Mumbai students were luckier than their Delhi counterparts. The US President Barack Obama held an interactive session with the college students of Bombay University.
We caught hold of one lucky boy — Ratnesh Desai of Mumbai’s Jai Hind College — who told us what we missed out on. This is his experience in his own words.
On entering the Town Hall Meeting at St Xavier’s College, we had to wait for the Obamas to arrive. The wait became sweeter as the U.S. Secret Service agents served us students with water.
Michelle won the heart
To our pleasant surprise, the First Lady Michelle Obama greeted us with her amicable opening speech. She said, “Please ask some tough questions to my husband, as it will keep him on his toes.” That set the tone of the interaction.
Obama questions us
President Obama started his interaction by asking us three questions. The first was: “Where do you see India 20 years from now?” The second question was, “Where do you see the Indian-US relationship 20 years from now?” And the third was: “How do you see yourself contributing to the world?”
Mr President, give me a chance Since me and my college mates had the opportunity to sit in the first row, right opposite the podium, we had anticipated a high chance of asking questions to Obama.
The President, however, came up with the ‘one boy-one girl’ solution to give equal opportunity to every section on the three side of the stage. Michelle was sitting on the fourth side. Call it karma or law of probability, the President always asked a question to a girl on my side of the section. I would raise my hand and had to eventually bring it down when the President would announce, “Now a girl from this side.” I saw the First Lady making an eye contact and smiling sweetly to sympathise with me.
Scramble for the podium
Usually, we see that the organiser arrange for the microphone and the podium. But here, we could see that the special designated team of secret service were the masters. Immediately after the President’s interaction ended, they rushed to dismantle the First Microphones and the First Podium.
The Obamas were about to leave from the other side of stage but then came back all the way to shake hands with us in the front row. The First Couple had the most magnetic simile and they greeted us, saying Happy Diwali. We were floored.