Bedspreads, paintings… Michelle can’t stop buying Indian crafts (Second Lead)

November 8th, 2010 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) US First lady Michelle Obama shopped for a slice of India Monday, almost running out of money as she splurged on bedspreads, paintings and curios as the perfect Christmas gifts! But there was also a moment in the capital’s sun-dappled crafts museum when she stood entranced by the strains of ‘baul’ folk music.

Michelle went on a shopping spree after arriving at the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum at 10.45 a.m. She lingered for nearly two hours, shooting well past her one-hour scheduled programme.

Museum chairperson Ruchira Ghosh walked Michelle through the galleries.

“She was so impressed with the Indian handicrafts on display that she did not want to leave. She went on a shopping binge, buying almost everything she came across,” said Ghosh.

She purchased four kantha bedspreads from a Bengal counter, greeting cards handpainted with Madhubani motifs from Bihar, colourful wooden key chains, Ganesha icons from Karnataka, and a crochet dining table cover from Andhra Pradesh.

Michelle said she would have bought more had she been left with more money, those at the museum said.

About 20 women artisans from across the country exhibited their work on the occasion. “Michelle said she had no idea that women could make so many different kind of craft products,” Ghosh said.

The US first lady exhausted her shopping budget at the crafts museum and said the Indian craft items were ideal gifts of Christmas, barely one-and-a-half months away.

“This is a historic occasion for the museum. She was impressed by what she saw. Earlier Hillary Clinton and her daughter had also visited the museum,” museum chairperson Ruchira Ghosh told IANS.

A gentle breeze ruffled the giant trees inside the complex as a five-member troupe of ‘baul’ minstrels from West Bengal set the tone of her visit with songs of Lalan Fakir.

“Shob loke koy Lalon ki jaat shangshare…,” sang Swarasati Banerjee and her troupe clad in saffron robes to the sounds of the ektara and dhol as Michelle listened to them for a few minutes, entranced by the folk melody.

She was clad in the same black and green dress she had worn at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat and from where she drove down in an eight-vehicle convoy to the crafts museum while her husband and US President Barack Obama left for Hyderabad House for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

What she bought was an enchanting mix of art and accessories - colourful Kutchi embroidered textile craft, patachitra from Bengal, wood craft from Karnataka and textile craft from the northeast.

The first lady purchased 15 mobile covers, 15 rag Gujarati dolls and five yogi thailas or embroidered bags. The next stop on her list was a vend from Orissa from where she bought hand fans and elephants made of rice stalks.

“She bought a rag doll that my four-year-old daughter was making,” Sumar Bhura, an artisan from Kutch, told IANS.

The museum, which is usually closed Monday, was kept open specially for the first lady.

The US first lady also took time out to talk to 14 poor girls from Punjab, Rajasthan and New Delhi. She answered queries about her “dreams, her life, her daughters and enquired about the children - and their livelihoods” over snacks and soft drinks.

The girls were brought to the crafts museum by the Nanhi Chaan Foundation, an organisation working for the welfare of the girl child.

“We wanted to highlight the plight of these children. We are not looking at any kind of help from the first couple - but just a little visibility for the girls and exposure to the world they live in,” Sanjay Joshi of Nanhi Chaan told IANS.

The first lady struck an instant chord with the children offering them “biscuits and drinks” and fielding their innocent queries with patience and smile”.

“She was wonderful with the children,” Ghosh said.

At the end, a delighted Michelle “wished had more time to spend at the museum”.

Michelle is accompanying husband Barack Obama during his first trip to India from Nov 6-9.

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