ROVANIEMI (FINLAND): India’s first citizen and head of State crossed the Arctic Circle for the first time with a bonus thrown in – President Pranab Mukherjee also had a “darshan” of Santa Claus on Thursday afternoon.
“Give my love to the people of India,” was long-beard Santa’s message to the President and his daughter, both of whom clearly enjoyed posing for pictures with the towering figure of Santa Claus.
As Santa awaited the arrival of the President in his well-endowed abode at the Santa Claus Village, it was clear that this was a well-rehearsed drill in which many heads of state and government had previously participated.
Santa made the President and his daughter, Sarmishta, sit next to him as they chatted with a host of officials and media persons around them taking pictures or wanting to get photographed themselves.
“You made my day,” the President told Santa, to which Father Christmas responded, “No. No. You made my day.”
Not that the President of India went empty-handed. He carried a marble elephant, elegantly concealed in official Rashtrapati Bhavan wrapping paper, for Santa. The gift was quietly handed over to Santa Claus, a cheerful, bear of a man.
And, then it was time for the official photograph with Santa and departure time for the President from Santa’s abode. As he walked into the souvenir shop, the official photographs were ready.
The lady at the counter showed first a picture of the President with Santa. And, Mr. Mukherjee broke into a wide smile. Then came a second picture – the President, his daughter and Santa all together. The smile became wider.
Weren’t you impressed at the speed with which the pictures were printed and presented to you? “Yes, indeed,” he told this writer with the wide smile still on his face.
The President, known for his sharp memory, is unlikely to forget his meeting with this “dignitary” in a hurry.