US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tried their hand at a charkha (spinning wheel) at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Monday, shortly after arriving in India for their first official visit. The US President, the First Lady and Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi toured the ashram associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom struggle and self-reliance movement.
According to Kartikeya Sarabhai, trustee of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, the visitors said they got a sense of “peace” after visiting the ashram where Gandhi lived between 1917 and 1930.
“The President and his wife said that the place gave them a sense of peace. They saw Hridaykunj, the humble abode of Gandhi ji, and also tried their hand at spinning the charkha. He and the First Lady really liked it very much,” Sarabhai said.
Trump landed at Sadar Vallabhbhai Patel airport in Ahmedabad at around 11:40 am following which he was given the guard of honour and welcomed in a traditional Gujarati ceremony.
In the message book at the Ashram, president Trump wrote, “To my great friend Prime Minister Modi – Thank you for this wonderful visit.” It was also signed by Melania Trump. Sarabhai said that there were multiple gifts and souvenirs given to the president, including a statue of the three monkeys, a favourite of Gandhi.
Lata Parmar, a communicator at the ashram who helped the Trumps with the spinning wheel, recalled her interaction .
“The president was amazed at how the charkha functioned. I was called to help him spin it. He was amazed how the thread did not break.” Outside the ashram thousands lined up behind barricades to greet Modi and Trump.