Anand and Obama – meeting in Delhi

11/9/2010 – Memories of the last World Championship and his epic journey to Sofia after all flights had been cancelled due to volcanic eruptions in Iceland. This time a cyclone off the coast of Chennai almost prevented Viswanathan Anand from reaching a dinner, hosted by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle, in time. But he made it and they met.

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Anand and Obama – meeting in Delhi

He almost didn't make it – again. Just when Anand was about to board an aircraft from Chennai to New Delhi last Sunday, Cyclone Jal hit, bringing five days of torrential rain to Tamil Nadu. On that one day Chennai’s Nungambakkam received 47.3 mm rainfall, while the Airport observatory reported the figure at 44.8 mm, disrupting flight services. So, too, Anand's flight, scheduled for 09:00 a.m., which finally took off at 4:40 p.m., delivering the World Champion just in time for a dinner date. This was given by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a private occasion which Zeenews describes as follows:

Lilting tunes wafted across the lush green lawns of the Race Course residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he hosted a private dinner tonight for US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Obama was seated on the head table with Prime Minister Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Michelle, Sonia Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee and Rahul Gandhi. Chess wizard Viswanathan Anand and Environmental Activist Sunita Narain was also present at the dinner, which started with shorba and mulagatani soups. The main course included chingara jammu prongs, fish and green-chilly lamb, kakori kababs, mughlai chicken, gobi, dal dampukht, rice pulao and a variety of Indian breads. The dessert included kesar phirni and mava poti.

Our Indian readers – and others who treasure Indian food – are probably having pleasant thoughts when reading these lines [originally we use "salivating" and before that an even more graphic image, but were severly reprimanded by an Indian professor and retract with humility].


A short clip from an Indian TV station on the arrival of some of the guests

As Obama reached the Prime Minister's residence, 30 camel-mounted BSF personnel welcomed him by playing bugles and trumpets. Obama described the Camel band rendering as "spectacular". The personnel in their traditional uniform played different tunes which were enjoyed by the US President and Michelle. The residence was decked with flowers, lights and rangoli designs. Obama and Michelle went around different tables greeting about 60 guests. They talked and shook hands with the invitees, and at one point Obama sat down with Anand to analyse his final world championship game in Sofia, Bulgaria (you wish!). [Addendum: this was a joke! They did not sit down and analyse – what a completely preposterous idea!]


An Indian TV report on Obama's visit to India, where the talks were about increased
trade and employment opportunities – for the US, in the booming Indian economy


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