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Wide Angle: Behind the stage of a POTUS visit

4 2 1
23.02.2020

The upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump conjured up decade-old memories when President Barack Obama and the then first lady Michelle Obama had visited India in 2010. I was working as a Media Advisor with the US Consulate in Mumbai and I was designated as the Overall Press lead for the visit’s Mumbai leg. The dynamics of a President visit are so complicated and those in charge of the visit have to literally manufacture a sonorous tune out of the bureaucratic cacophony that one has to wade through.

Typically the preparations for the visit begin around a month and a half before any POTUS visit (President of the United States) visit. For President Obama’s visit around more than a hundred advanced staff were stationed at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. The advance staffs include motley of secret service personnel, mid-level and senior diplomats, White house staff, hospitality experts and media relations staff from the White House. I was privy to many such advance planning meetings and what struck me as both a participant and a neutral observer was the attention to detail that was given during such visits. Among the advance staff there used to be certain staff just in-charge of picking a suitcase or someone would just be in charge of breakfast for the foreign press. For all you know the person doing the duty could be a mid-level diplomat. However, everyone took interest in the task assigned to them and did it with complete precision. No work was looked down........

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