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Many wait to get glimpse

On Saturday afternoon, 13-year-old Unnati Shah travelled from her home in Walkeshwar to a friend’s place near Mani Bhavan hoping to get a glimpse of Obama’s entourage of sleek, black Cadillacs.

mumbai Updated: Nov 08, 2010 01:12 IST
Aarefa Johari

On Saturday afternoon, 13-year-old Unnati Shah travelled from her home in Walkeshwar to a friend’s place near Mani Bhavan hoping to get a glimpse of Obama’s entourage of sleek, black Cadillacs.

But at 3.30 pm, about 40 minutes after the US President entered the Gandhi museum, she was treated to more than she had asked for. Perched high on a relative’s shoulders in the street opposite Mani Bhavan, Shah managed to get a glimpse of Obama before he slipped back into his car.

“We had been waiting for so long, and I actually saw him waving to the crowd,” said Shah, who excitedly waved back and took videos on phone like the others.

Police barricades blocked the crowds more than 100 metres away from Mani Bhavan, but spectators from the buildings of Laburnum Road had climbed trees and building fences and were leaning out of their windows to get the best view.

Many had put aside their Diwali plans to wait for a glimpse of the president, there was both joy and disappointment. “I saw Obama’s face from the glass of his car, and also saw Salman Khurshid (minister of corporate and minority affairs) clearly,” said Somil Bhansali, a call centre employee who waited for more than two hours with his wife to see the dignitary.

Others had several complaints about the arrangements. Nobody got to see Obama while he entered Mani Bhavan because of the black curtains his security personnel put around him, while local policemen blocked the view of several other spectators when he was on his way out.

Several pedestrians and residents were also inconvenienced by the roadblocks at the entrances of all lanes leading to the Gamdevi main road after 2 pm.

“I have been roaming around the area for 30 minutes with my wife and kids, but they are not allowing me to go to my own house right across the main road,” said a irate resident who had returned to the area at 2.30 pm.

“If I could meet the president, I would tell him I am disappointed by all the security arrangements.”