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Clinton misses namesake

Fifteen years ago, he was denied a chance to meet Hillary Clinton, with whom he shares his name. On Sunday, Clinton Peter turned out to be second time unlucky.

Clinton was just three years old when Hillary, then the US First Lady, came to Calcutta to attend Mother Teresa’s funeral in 1997. The boy’s father, Patrick Peter, had taken him to Netaji Indoor Stadium along with 20 pigeons, in the hope that Hillary would agree to release the birds.

“I lived in Mumbai then but had come down for the funeral. I wanted to request Hillary Clinton to release at least one pigeon presented by my son as a symbol of world peace,” said Patrick. “But all the VIPs were taken out through the Strand Road gate and we couldn’t even see her.”

The missed opportunity was reported in the September 14, 1997, issue of The Telegraph (Gates slam shut on Clinton Jr).

This time, the father-son duo approached police, ministers and Writers’ officials for permission to release a hot-air balloon with flags of the US and India painted on it near the state secretariat, but with no luck.

Disappointed, Patrick and Clinton turned up at Victoria Memorial on Sunday and managed to catch a glimpse of the US secretary of state waving from her Toyota Land Cruiser.

Everywhere Hillary went there were curious onlookers. Virtually under house arrest for her visit to Indian Council for Cultural Relations, school student Jai Sharma waited at the entrance of his neighbouring Ho Chi Minh Sarani house for nearly two hours. “She is next to the US President in power and importance…couldn’t miss her,” he said.

Commuters caught in traffic because of the VVIP convoy tried in vain to photograph Hillary on cellphones. Cabbie Munna Shaw stopped in front of Taj Bengal to see “a very beautiful American woman, a politician’s wife and film actress”.

For Mehbooba, 31, from Dhaka, Hillary’s claim to fame was being former US President Bill Clinton’s wife. She was promptly “corrected” by husband Mahmud, 34, : “She is also the home minister.”