Forty-eight hours before reports emerged of a fresh Chinese incursion into Arunachal Pradesh, China's Consul General in Kolkata launched a most unusual diplomatic offensive in the city, now caught up in Durga Puja celebrations.
On Saturday, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi was late for the inauguration of a pandal the consulate is partnering. So the Consul General and his wife took matters into their own hands.
To keep restive guests entertained, as Consul General Ma Zhanwu took off his formal black jacket, his wife, dressed in a red Banarasi sari, picked up her 'pipa' - an instrument much like a sitar. As she played it masterfully, he put on display an incredibly elegant show of tai chi.
For 20 minutes, he moved across the stage in flowing dance-like martial arts motions. The Governor arrived to find him taking a bow amid loud and long applause. They then headed to the pandal to unveil the idol of Goddess Durga.
The video of Mr Ma's Tai Chi went viral on social media, with over 20,000 views on Twitter within few hours.
"And the goddess wondered if she had come down the wrong way from her abode, descending down the northern slopes instead of the southern," wrote Partha Banerjee, travel writer.
Diya Erica Basu, a communications expert, quoted Edward R Murrow, journalist and US diplomat, to say, "The really crucial link in the international communication chain is the last three feet, which is bridged by personal contact - one person talking to another."
"Wow. Firangs find it so easy to let their hair down. Wonder why our politicians are so insufferable," lamented Shobha Sengupta, owner, Quill and Canvas Bookshop in Gurgaon
Mr Ma himself was bashful about his sudden stardom. "Durga puja is a great event, a great festival and a great cultural and social event for all of us to celebrate and enjoyed," he said when mobbed after his performance.
"But sir you were the star of the show today with your Tai Chi," said a member of the audience.
"Thank you," said Mr Ma, going slightly pink in the face. But ever the diplomat, he added, "I want to share with our Indian friends that tai chi and yoga are very similar and both emphasis breathing and movement. We have a lot in common."
BJ Block Salt Lake, where China is the puja partner, can't stop talking about Mr and Mrs Ma's star performance. They are equally excited about the Chinese buffet that was on offer.
The idol there is traditional, but the pandal is laced with Chinese motifs -- dragon, Chinese lanterns and mandarin inscriptions on two sides of the goddess, which, translated, read: "Peace, Tranquility, Love, Happiness and Forgiveness".
The Sino bug has bitten children too who pranced about shouting "Ni Hao" -- "hello" in Chinese.
For Mr Ma, it was a huge diplomatic feather in the cap. He has been in Kolkata for three years and handled considerable communications on the Dalai Lama visit to Tawang last year and the Doklam face-off.
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