November 8th, 2010
05:52 AM ET
From pool report by Washington Post's Emily Wax when the First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum, New Delhi
Amid the neem and Banyan trees and colorful tribal Worli art wall paintings, Michelle Obama held hands with schoolgirls touring the museum’s rooms. Some of the girls wore maroon school uniforms, their hair in looped braids and tied in red ribbons, with knee high socks under black mary jane shoes. Others wore blue uniforms with white sashes. They passed through hand-carved wooden doors with lattice work, and near a Gujarati pigeon house, which historically celebrates nature and provides a refuge for birds.
The first room Mrs. Obama toured was a hand-carved and traditional Rajasthani Haveli or a residential house, she then visited wooden statues of from Andhra Pradesh, which play important roles in Hindu mythology. Mrs. Obama smiled at a giant statue with the image of Durga, a powerful Hindu goddess, and destroyer of evil. “Women and power,” Mrs. Obama smiled and told the girls, pumping both hands in the air.
The group then sat down on cane chairs under the shade of a peepal tree, a sacred Hindu tree. Fruit juice, almonds, raisins and some home baked cookies from a U.S. Embassy employee were passed out, along with black string backpacks that had the White House emblem a Nike swoosh was below. Inside the bags, were notebooks and crayons.
Mrs. Obama spent another half an hour talking to the girls. She then went shopping at the crafts center. Mystic Hindu musicians from West Bengal performed with flutes and drums.
Sajida Malik, 11, was able to hold Mrs. Obama’s hand. She said Mrs. Obama “Was very good. She seemed to understand us even when we spoke Hindi.” Malik’s mother has never studied, like many of the girls here. Mrs. Obama spoke a lot about the importance of studying.
Manpreet Kaur, 14, came by an overnight train from her village in the Punjab. She said she asked Mrs. Obama “If you have a fight with your husband who apologized first. She said the president has to say he is sorry first.” Aprit Buttar, 11, from Rajasthan said, “All the boys were jealous,” that the girls were able to meet Mrs. Obama.