There were more saris on display in one place Saturday night than possibly at any time in DC. Ever. And more tilak, or teeka, if you prefer. And bhangra? Perhaps.
The occasion was Myron Belkind, who served for nine years as news agency Associated Press’s Delhi bureau chief, taking over as the 107th president of the National Press Club in Washington DC.
Belkind himself wore a black long shervani-style bandh-gala. And students from a local university welcomed guests with a tilak on the forehead, some of who kept theirs on.
That was more India than ever seen at the 105-year-old club, which once hosted press conferences by prime ministers Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasimha Rao, that are still talked about.
Belkind first went to India as a correspondent in 1966. He transferred out for a year, and returned in 1968 to start an eventful nine-year stint as bureau chief.
He was there during the Emergency.
Among his first diktats for the club was that members of the club will now greet each other with “namaste”, which the inauguration host got guests to practice several times.
And the dinner menu included tandoori chicken wrapped around a skewer, and pulao.
The night ended with a bhangra performance by students from a local university, who politely asked guests seated around the stage to step back a little, “for your own safety”.
Some of their props could hurt on contact.
But it all ended well, DC press club’s first night out with India.