Wednesday, July 22, 2009
With Love to Hillary
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton couldn’t hide her excitement after receiving a traditional Kashmiri cloak pheran from Kashmiri businessman in New Delhi Monday evening. Kashmiri trader Manzoor Ahmad Wangnoo presented the pheran to Hillary on behalf of the people of Kashmir. Few days ago Hillary had asked India and Pakistan to take into account the aspirations of Kashmiris while finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute. Despite her hectic schedule, Hillary ensured to meet Wangnoo and purchase traditional Kashmiri handicrafts. At 10.15 pm. Hillary met Wangnoo and exchanged pleasantries. “I presented her a embroidered red Kashmiri pheran saying it was a present on behalf of the people of Kashmir. Hillary was so happy that she immediately put on the robe,” said Wangnoo who owns at chain of shops in prominent hotels in New Delhi. “I told her that simplicity was the real essence of Kashmir. She was amazed after learning about the hardwork put in the making of Kashmir handicrafts and was all praise for Kashmiri artisans,” he said. Wangnoo also gave the visiting dignitary a Pashmina shawl as a gift on behalf of his parents. She sent greeting to them and his brothers Haji Ashraf and Abdul Saboor. She accepted my invitation to visit Kashmir saying she would love to visit the beautiful Valley. This was Wangnoo’s fourth meeting with Hillary. She had first visited Wangnoo’s shop ‘National Cottage Emporium and Kashmir Mahal’ at Maurya Sheraton in 1995. “When I showed a photograph of her first visit, she said in a lighter vein ‘we still look young.’ That year the former US first lady along with her daughter Chelsea had shopped at Wangnoo’s shop for over three hours which earned the sobriquet of Midnight Sales from the New York Times. “She was moved by my collection of quality Kashmir carpets and artifacts and became my frequent customer.” Wangnoo’s brother, Haji Rafiq Wangnoo, said handicrafts and rugs of Hillary’s favorite colours- including turquoise, baby pink, hot pink and red- were selected for display. Wangnoo shot to fame in 2000 when the then US president Bill Clinton visited his shop at Maurya Sheraton on Hillary’s recommendation. Clinton has purchased shawls, rugs and a carpet ‘Star of Kashmir’ for the White House. Wangnoo clientele includes former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and ambassadors of various countries.