The tone has been set for the one-on-one talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe. As soon as the visiting dignitary disembarked, the host welcomed his counterpart with a tight, warm hug.
Abe arrived hours after Modi landed in Ahmedabad on Wednesday afternoon. Modi's tight hug was reciprocated by Abe. After the guard of honour, when Abe and his wife Akie appeared before the public, their attire was different.
Abe was dressed in Modi-style kurta and pyjama. While Abe's white kurta was full-sleeved, Modi was sporting a half-sleeve. Akie wore a maroon kurta, narrow palazzo and a white dupatta pinned on the right shoulder.
For Modi, who played the perfect host, there could not have been a better photo-op to bolster his prospects in the upcoming Gujarat polls. This is for the first time, after 2002, that assembly elections are being held in the state, in the absence of Modi.
Except during the eight-kilometer long road show—when security personnel accompanied Abe, Akie and Modi in an open jeep—nobody was visible in their frame at the Sabarmati Ashram or even at the historic Siddi Saiyyed mosque.
All along the eight-kilometer route, Indian culture from various states was presented in the form of performances—on elevated platforms.
At the Sabarmati Ashram, Modi explained to Abe and his wife the intricacies of Gandhi's charkha. Later, they sat by the banks of river Sabarmati.
Akie wrote "love and thanks" in the vistor's book at Sabarmati Ashram.
For Modi, it was certainly not the first time at the Siddi Saiyyed mosque, as the BJP office was less than three kilometres away. Even as Modi reached the venue ahead of Abe, he took a stroll and acknowledged the crowed who were chanting his name.
They were the only three who went inside the mosque and spent a few minutes. Modi preferred to be the guide himself. Thereafter, they walked down on a red carpet across the road to have dinner at the House Of Mangaldas, a heritage hotel. They had a Gujarati style dinner and a short meeting.
The second day of Abe's visit will commence with the foundation laying ceremony for the bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. He will then visit the Dandi Kutir and take part in business meeting and bilateral talks.
The warmth of the first day is expected to continue on the second day. It is expected that more than 15 MoUs will be signed.
Modi is used to hosting foreign dignitaries outside New Delhi.
Akie will visit the Blind People's Association and will also address students at the Ahmedabad Management Association. She will also inaugurate an origami exhibiton.
Ice-cream giant Havmor designed an ice-cream in the shape of a bullet train for Akie.