New Delhi: Blue, white and red - the colours of the United States of America - sparkled in the sun-dappled lawns of the Hotel Imperial in the capital where an eclectic crowd of friends of America, mediapersons, students, politicians and diplomats cheered President Barack Obama on his re-election over a lavish breakfast spread.
Sponsored by the American embassy, it was the biggest US election bash in the country and was broadcast live in Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, where similar parties were in progress.
A group of 50 college girls broke into an impromptu jig as a giant CNN screen mounted on the lawns of the heritage hotel beamed the final projections that the Democrats led by Obama had romped home. They danced with US flags to the delight of camera crews of all major Indian television channels, who jostled for footage.
Women queued up be photographed with cutouts of Obama and Romney next to a "Your Election" games corner and a makeshift CNN Newsroom. A memorabilia shelf doled out bead necklaces with American colours, hats and flags.
The party began at 7.45 am. The first trickle of visitors sipped tea trying to focus on the results on the screen where the results flowed in quick succession showing Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney running neck and neck.
By about 10.30 am, it became clear that Obama had won.
"The projections say President Obama has been re-elected...I have been watching this election unfold with millions of American people. Ours is the oldest democracy. And a subtle message of all this that I voted. We as a people have a responsibility to participate in the democracy," American Ambassador to India Nancy Powell said in an
address to the guests.
"It was a very closely run race. The elections have been lively," Powell said.
"The debates were frank, often challenging regardless of the outcomes. Millions of Americans have just learnt that Obama has been re-elected... We will continue to work for the state," Powell said, adding that she was "proud to be a Democrat".
For hundreds students at the celebrations, the projections and results were a revelation of how the democracy worked in US.
"We know more about the politics of US and the world than our parents do. Put it to globalisation and the access of technology. Curiosity and this craving to get a feel of the globalisation brought us to the party. We did not get to know when Pranab Mukherjee took over as president, but the American election has definitely been a big talking
point...," Swarnima, a third-year political science student of IP College, told a news agency.
She was at the party with at least 30 students from the political faculty.
"I thought it would be a lovely exposure for my students," Veena Ravikumar, a professor of political science of Lady Shriram Collage, told a news agency.
Comparing the electoral process of the two democracies, she said "in India, voters often don't have an agenda".
"We often vote for the person and partly for the constituency. Many of our voters are not from the educated middle-class. Americans are not that. They are insular by nature and they want their rights to be taken care of... But issues like Iraq and Afghanistan, oil and unemployment are getting them involved in the country's foreign affairs because it concerns them," Ravikumar explained to her students.
But the aroma of hash browns, scrambled eggs, freshly baked pastries and brewing coffee from the breakfast counter cut the conversation short.