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Why Bush missed dessert

The US President posed for pictures with chefs, and that is how they forgot to serve the dessert to the chief guest.

india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 00:36 IST

In the end, everyone forgot about the dessert. At least the chief guest and his host did. It was obviously a terrific lunch and not just because the chefs had excelled themselves. The reason was US President George W Bush, the chief guest.

A pity he left without tasting the dessert. But was anyone complaining? Not the staff of Taj Palace where the banquet was hosted. Bush happily posed for pictures with them — that’s how they forgot to serve the dessert.

Both Bush and his host, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, left by the time someone remembered.

But the lunch was a success. President Bush was an exemplary guest, moving around the hall from table to table — something that never struck the ultimate charmer Bill Clinton when he came here as president. A guest gushed, "You saw a very different side of the president (Bush and not Clinton)."

Guests saw a very different side of the host too, when, looking towards the US first lady, he said, "I'm sorry your husband is not taking you to the Taj Mahal." That brought the house down, not something expected of Singh.

This swipe was taken by Singh while concluding his welcome speech. Bush replied with an ex tempore piece. And then the TV camera was thrown out and the hotel staff moved in with the starters, a light mushroom soup.

This was followed by the main course: prawns, crabmeat kebabs, tandoori pink salmon, lamb curry and vegetables. Notice, no chicken — blame it on bird flu or the scare around it.

Among the guests were industrialists Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Nandan Nilekani, Sunil Mittal; media personalities; and politicians — cabinet ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and Kamal Nath, allies Lalu Yadav, Sharad Pawar, BJP leaders AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, Rajnath Singh and GenNext Rahul Gandhi, Omar Abdullah, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 00:36 IST