"I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to Orissa. But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination... and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians," US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao said, going down the memory lane two decades ago when she was a student.
In a speech at the SRM University on Tuesday, Chao also said, "Some 20 years ago, I was a student like you and had an opportunity to do a semester abroad. I chose to come to India, fascinated by the culture and religion. I travelled across villages to understand the culture better. I was amazed at the graciousness and friendliness of the people."
Going into a damage-control mode following her controversial remarks, the US Consulate here said, "During the speech Ms. Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent".
The Consulate said in a release that the diplomat was describing "positive memories from her own study abroad experiences in India 23 years ago".
As US Secretary Hillary Clinton recently noted, the US-India partnership was based on shared values of democracy, liberty and respect for religious and cultural diversity, the Consulate release said.
"The U.S. Consulate in Chennai and the U.S. Mission in India are committed to upholding these shared values", it said.