Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and wife Gursharan Kaur are in for a date with Barack Obama. Come Tuesday, and they will be the chief guests at the first State dinner being hosted by the Obamas in the White House. No wonder then that Washington DC’s glitterati is scrambling for an invite to raise a toast to our PM in this black-tie and bandh-gala feast.
As Singh prepares for his US visit starting November 22, US website Politico has prepared its wish list of Indian invitees at the State Banquet. Author Arundhati Roy, along with industrialist Mukesh Ambani, celeb-couple Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi have made the cut.
Though the White House has asked the invitees to keep their invite a secret, speculations are rife that talk show host Oprah Winfrey will dine alongside the Singhs. The rich and powerful NRIs are biting their nails over whether they will be invited. In an article on the banquet, Wall Street Journal noted, “This being the Indian community — one of the most affluent and successful immigrant groups in the U.S. — everybody thinks they’re a Somebody.”
When Manmohan Singh last supped in the White House with former US President George W Bush in 2005, basmati rice was on the menu and less than 150 guests present, the maximum capacity of the dining room being 140. This time there are shamiyanas (tents) in the lawns that can hold 400 people. New York-based Afro-American chef Marcus Samuelsson will head the kitchen. Politico reports that the state dinner will have global cuisine, “possibly including a curry dish.”