by Michael True
Driving along the shaded streets of New Delhi, I approached the center of the city with a sense of anticipation. And why not? Although I had arrived there from Boston and elsewhere in India several times before, this time our destination was the Presidential House (Rastrapati Bhavan). Turning into the Rajpath, our driver moved slowly through the traffic and crowds surrounding India Gate, then toward the palace: a 37-acre complex of gardens, fountains, Victorian archways, long corridors, and meeting rooms, designed by the British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, in 1929.
We came to a stop at the bottom of the wide steps approaching the massive front entrance. It was a scene recognizable to anyone familiar with Richard Attenboroughs great film Gandhi, 1983, after Gandhi's successful nonviolent protest against the British tax on salt in 1930, the Mahatma (Ben Kingsley) walked purposefully up those front steps for a meeting with the British viceroy. The event symbolized a major victory in the long effort to end British rule, with independence 17 years later.
From the parking lot, my friend and I entered a side entrance, through various security posts, to a handsome waiting room, where other guests awaited a meeting with Mrs. Patil, the first woman president of India. After tea and delicious treats, Professor Naresh Dadhich and I were escorted to the president's receiving room, where she greeted us cordially. ...
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Michael True is professor emeritus of English, Assumption College, and a world sojourner for peace. He is the author of several books on the literature and power of nonviolence.