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Old friends & school on Suu Kyi to-do list

- Myanmar leader lands in Delhi on week-long visit

New Delhi, Nov. 13: Tomorrow can wait, for Aung San Suu Kyi it is yesterday once more.

The Myanmar opposition leader landed today for a week-long visit, but memories half a century old must have come flooding back on the drive from the airport through the streets of the city where she spent some of her formative years.

It is Suu Kyi’s first visit to Delhi in nearly two decades and sources said high on her “to do” list was catching up with old friends and visiting her school and college.

She would also call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi at the UPA chairperson’s 10 Janpath residence. The meeting with the Congress chief could uncork the memories, long bottled during her years in house arrest in her lakeside home in Yangon.

The sources said Suu Kyi might be shown around 24 Akbar Road when she calls on Sonia, whose home shares a boundary wall with the building that now houses the Congress’s headquarters.

In the 1960s, 24 Akbar Road was the official residence of Suu Kyi’s mother Daw Khin Kyi, widow of Jawaharlal Nehru’s close friend General Aung San and then envoy of what was then Burma. Suu Kyi’s room is now Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s office.

Suu Kyi, 67, has apparently conveyed to South Block that she would rather meet her friends and supporters than spend time convincing government functionaries to change their “pragmatic” foreign policy on Myanmar.

The Indian government is, however, treating the visit as one by an important head of state and has rolled out the red carpet. In an official statement, the foreign ministry said Suu Kyi’s visit “would provide (an) opportunity to exchange views on all matters of mutual interest with a view to building upon the positive momentum in India-Myanmar relations”.

In May, Suu Kyi had put aside her “disappointment” with Delhi’s support for Myanmar’s junta during the past decade and a half to accept Singh’s invitation to deliver the Nehru Memorial Lecture to honour the “deep friendship” between her father and India’s first Prime Minister. She will deliver the lecture on Nehru’s birth anniversary tomorrow.

Today, however, marked two milestones: the second anniversary of her release from house arrest and a return to what she calls her intellectual home.

As a teenager, Suu Kyi had studied in Delhi, completing her secondary education from the Convent of Jesus and Mary and later graduating with political science from Lady Shri Ram College before moving on to Oxford. She also spent some time as a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla in 1987.

Suu Kyi, who spent the Diwali evening with some close friends, will start the official part of her visit tomorrow by paying homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat and Nehru’s memorial at Shanti Van.

In a recent speech at Columbia University, she had said Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru were her “greatest sources” of inspiration.