The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Museum, not mart, for Liu
- First lady shows serious side

New Delhi, Nov. 22: Unlike Sehba Musharraf, Liu Yongqing wasn’t interested in shopping for Indian craftwork and artefacts — she wanted to see the real thing.

Better known as Mrs Hu Jintao, the Chinese first lady spent hours visiting museums and monuments during her stay for little over a day in the capital.

While Sehba, the wife of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, went shopping to the Central Cottage Industries Corporation for traditional Indian craftwork, Liu, it appears, was in the mood to give rather than take.

The past — she saw traditional Indian cultural performances — isn’t all that excites Liu though.

She thrilled a group of five Indian students accompanying and guiding a Chinese youth delegation here, during her short interaction with them.

“She told us, ‘you are not only the future of India, you are the future of Asia’,” gushed Neha, one of the students who has also been working as an interpreter for the Chinese youth delegation.

If her husband had a packed day yesterday, with political dialogue and economic agreements, Liu kept herself equally busy and won herself a few admirers in the process.

She started yesterday with a must-do visit to Rajghat as part of the official delegation.

From there, she went to the Gandhi Memorial Museum right across the road, where, according to an official, she listened attentively as her Indian interpreter explained the significance of various documents penned by Gandhi.

Next, she went to the National Museum, where she spent close to an hour, according to Raghuraj Singh Chauhan, public relations director.

“She visited most of the galleries, but the Nataraj statue and the dancing girl of Mohenjodaro were what appeared to impress her the most,” Chauhan said.

She also presented the museum with a portrait of the Great Wall of China, Chauhan said.

“It’s a beautiful portrait framed in gold,” Chauhan said.

At roughly the same time, mid-afternoon, members of the Chinese youth delegation were retiring to their rooms at Ashoka Hotel.

“We are really tired,” they had complained to their Indian guides, as they left the India International Trade Fair yesterday afternoon.

Liu showed no such signs, heading off to the Qutb Minar.

In an hour spent there, she saw the main monument as well as the several smaller tombs of the slave dynasty started by Qutbuddin Aibak.

It wasn’t Aibak, or his son Iltutmish at whose tombs she spent maximum time. That honour went to Raziya Sultan, Delhi’s first woman ruler.

Come evening, it was time for a moonlit dinner with the official delegations of the two countries at the Garden of Five Senses — a park with an oriental feel almost designed into it.

More than the dinner, it was a couple of performances by young Indian dancers that held Liu’s attention.

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