Michelle charmed by Indian handicrafts

New Delhi: Indian textiles and handicrafts charmed their way into Michelle Obama`s shopping bag Monday as the US first lady almost ran out of money, picking up bedspreads, Ganeshas and wooden toys which, she said, would make for ideal Christmas gifts!

Michelle went on a shopping spree after arriving at the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum in Pragati Maidan complex at 10.45 a.m. She was in the museum for nearly two hours, shooting well past her one-hour scheduled programme.

Museum chairperson Ruchira Ghosh walked Michelle through the galleries devoted to the traditional textiles, rural handicrafts and art of India.

"Michelle was so impressed with the Indian handicrafts on display that she did not want to leave the museum. She went on a shopping binge, buying almost everything that she came across," said Ghosh.

Michelle said she would have bought more had she been left with more money, those at the museum said.

The US first lady exhausted her shopping budget at the crafts museum and said the Indian craft items were ideal gifts of Christmas, barely one-and-a-half months away!

She was clad in the same black and green dress she had worn at Mahatma Gandhi`s memorial Rajghat and from where she drove down in an eight-vehicle convoy to the crafts museum while her husband and US President Barack Obama left for Hyderabad House for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Her shopping list included four embroidered kantha bed spreads, Kutchi mobile phone bags, Kutchi dolls and a from Gujarati `yogi thaila`, which was a cloth bag with sequins and heavy embroidery.

Michelle also bought wooden toys from Karnataka, wooden key chains, three wooden Ganeshas and a wooden toy train. Part of the gifts she bought were also elephants and fans made of rice grain and rice stalk.

Also on display for the first lady were patachitra art from West Bengal, phulkari weaves from Punjab, phoosa art from Karnataka, dushala shawls from Jammu and Kashmir and handicrafts from Himachal Pradesh.

About 20 women artisans from across the country exhibited their work on the occasion.

Michelle was impressed by the rich legacy of Indian crafts.

She also interacted with 15 underprivileged girls of an NGO who make handicraft items for a living and showed a keen interest in the welfare of the girl child, museum sources said.

To add to her cultural experience were `baul` folk singers from West Bengal.

The museum, which is usually closed Monday, was kept open specially for the first lady.

The museum was set up over a period of 30 years starting in the 1950s when the area adjacent to the Pragati Maidan was envisaged as a craft zone for artisans to work for the preservation of traditional art.

The museum has over 20,000 exhibits reflecting Indian crafts traditions and seven galleries spaces for display.

Michelle is accompanying husband Barack Obama during his first trip to India from Nov 6-9.