Mumbai: US President Barack Obama is expected in India on Saturday and as Mumbai readies for him, many residents of South Mumbai are upset with the prospect of facing a dark Diwali.
Girish Jain's sparklers at his fireworks stall in Colaba Market have lost a bit of their sparkle this Diwali. As part of a security sweep for US President Obama's visit, Colaba and most of South Mumbai is being sanitised of all Diwali colour.
"The fireworks stalls on the street have all been taken out," says shopkeeper.
A massive cleanup and cosmetic makeover have done nothing to lift the mood it seems.
Cars without valid passes will not be allowed in the vicinity of the Taj Hotel and local police stations have issued around 500 car passes to registered residents in the area.
The Gateway of India, a popular holiday pit-stop, will be completely off-limits. Routes the US President will be using will be turned into no-parking zones though the police has promised rules will be relaxed once his entourage passes through.
Shops within the Taj and Oberoi hotels will be shut for two days, which means taking a hit in business this peak season.
"Everything is closed in the wake of Obama visit," says Arif, a shopkeeper.
"We are not allowed to keep anything in the shops," adds another.
So if you're making Diwali plans in South Mumbai, be prepared to find many routes closed to traffic. With the US Secret Service almost entirely taking over the Taj and Oberoi hotels, many residents in the area are asking if this is a sign of excessive precaution or excessive paranoia.