Obamas swing to folk music at Mumbai school

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 07, 2010 05:40 hrs

Mumbai, Nov 7 (IANS) It was a swinging start to the day for the Obamas Sunday with both the president and his wife shaking a leg with children at the Holy Name School here as a Marathi folk tune played in the background.

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, who landed here Saturday for a four-day India visit, were relaxed and smiling as they interacted with students, many of them from poor families, at the school. The couple arrived separately at the venue, in a quiet bylane in Colaba, a hub of foreigners and close to the Leopold Cafe, which was targeted during the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The US first couple - the president in shirtsleeves and the first lady in a black and white dress with a hot pink shrug - moved around, shaking hands with the children and stopping to exchange some words.

They then settled down to watch dance performances by the children, dressed in vibrant reds, greens and oranges, who first presented a semi-classical dance followed by the traditional Koli folk dance of Maharashtra's fisherfolk, the original inhabitants of Mumbai.

That over, Michelle Obama gamely agreed when the children asked her to join them, swinging her hips to the catchy tune and quickly catching on as the steps were taught to her. The president was not to far behind either, and happily got up to join the fun, waving his arms and swinging along with the rest.

The children were delighted - and so it seems were the Obamas who were seen smiling broadly.

Minister of State for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid, who is also the minister-in-waiting, and Indian Ambassador to US Meera Shankar sat behind the couple.

Obama had greeted the students with a namaste, the traditional Indian greeting with palms joined, and lit a traditional lamp to flag off the function. Earlier, Michelle Obama had also seen an exhibition of paintings and rangolis put up by the students.

Later, President Obama is scheduled to address around 100 students selected from six different city colleges at the St. Xaviers College in Dhobi Talao, again a stone's throw away from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, another target of 26/11.

He will also visit an agricultural exhibition there, attend a democracy expo and interact with farmers in a Rajasthan village through video conferencing.

Thereafter, they are expected to return to the Taj, drive down to Colaba and hop onto a chopper for the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for their onward visit to New Delhi.

South Mumbai remained a virtual fortress as US dignitaries went about their social engagements in the area, mostly within a two square kilometre radius. The only event in which the couple travelled up to five kilometres was during the visit to Mani Bhavan Saturday afternoon.