Barack and Michelle Obama left India on Tuesday after an eventful three-day visit, but the US First Lady promised to return on a private trip just to see the Taj Mahal, which they had to skip this time because of an engagement in Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the US.
“Michelle Obama was disappointed. She has promised to return on a private visit to have a glimpse of Taj,” a senior minister told HT.
The first couple travelled to India without their two daughters. The US president referred to his girls in the Mann Ki Baat he addressed jointly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying they were fascinated by India and wanted to visit too but could not do so since school was open.
The drizzle during the Republic Day parade certainly did not dampen their spirits. When a minister briefed Michelle that rain was considered auspicious in India, the First Lady responded: “It started raining when we landed in your country.”
The minister said the family was ‘bowled over’ by India’s diversity and the scale of the Republic Day celebration. “There must be nearly 20,000 people around?” Obama asked a minister. “No, there would be more,” the minister told a surprised president.
Those who shadowed the Obamas during their trip admitted the couple were slightly “stressed out” because of a change in their travel schedule and the back-to-back events they had to attend. The Obamas were originally scheduled to land around 4.45 am on Sunday, but their arrival was rescheduled to avoid any fog-related problems.
“Michelle spent most of the time meeting embassy officials. She appeared stressed out. Even they got late by 10 minutes to a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” a government source said.