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Dadababu returns to lavish lunch

Rice, masoor dal, fried kalmi shaak, alu-potoler dalna, shorshe ilish, tangra machh, mutton curry and mishti.

Chhaya Naskar, the cook at Pranab Mukherjee’s residence bordering the Dhakuria Lakes for over a decade, went the whole hog at lunch on Sunday to mark his first homecoming as President.

“Dadababu enjoyed the meal and told me to prepare the same menu when he would come here with Boudi (wife Suvra) during the Pujas,” the 61-year old told Metro.

Mukherjee told his family members on Sunday he plans to spend Durga Puja at Mirati, his Birbhum village, and preside over the family puja.

His first visit to his Calcutta home as President was a quiet affair with security, not overwhelming crowds, being the highlight. When a silver Tata Safari with no number plate whisked him away a little after 2.30pm, policemen, parked on rooftops around the building, stood silhouetted against the overcast sky.

They far outnumbered Mukherjee’s Calcutta neighbours or general members of the crowd. Only a few of the neighbours had been enthusiastic enough to climb up to rooftops; a few looked down from balconies.

Vehicles were not allowed entry into the two streets below the Dhakuria bridge, leading to Mukherjee’s house, and no pedestrian was allowed into the stretch in front of the four-storey Vatayan for the four-and-a-half hours that he spent inside.

The life of the streets was suspended as long as the President was there. Stores were closed, except a tea stall that sold 4kg of ghugni.

Mukherjee came in at 10.07am, in a white Ambassador and posed briefly for the cameras as his son Avijit stood at the second floor window, and then disappeared into the house.

Manotosh Kumar, 82, who said he was “a freedom fighter”, had left his “department store” near Dhakuria station, called Sonargaon, to catch a glimpse of the President. He said it was past two, but he was so carried away that he had forgotten about his lunch and was getting calls from his family.

“Pranab Mukherjee has made Birbhum proud. I am from Rampurhat and I visit this place always whenever Pranab Mukherjee is here. This time I came to see him as President,” said Kumar. He added he was Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s batchmate.

As he spoke, the policemen in front of the building formed a phalanx and Mukherjee came out, raised his hands in a namaskar above his head and disappeared into the Tata Safari. It started; 12 vehicles followed.