United Nations, Jan 27: Fondly recalling his "wonderful" memories of India, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said he feels at home in the country and still remembers the phone number of his old house in New Delhi where he started his diplomatic career in 1972.
UN Secretary General Ban, who had visited New Delhi and Gujarat earlier this month, said since India was critical to success across the UN's ambitious development agenda in 2015, he had begun "this crucial year with a visit to India".
The 70-year-old Ban said he was "privileged" to see the letters of the "great man" Mahatma Gandhi when he had visited the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram.
"I also reflected on our collective responsibility to carry on his legacy. Mahatma Gandhi was a champion of peace, a defender of human rights, and an advocate for the empowerment of the poor. These are the same values embodied in the United Nations Charter. It is no wonder that I feel so at home in India," he said in his message on the occasion of India's Republic Day.
"I still remember my phone number from my old house," he said, adding that he had brought back "wonderful memories" from the trip.
Ban, who started his diplomatic career in New Delhi 43 years ago as vice consul in the South Korean embassy, has visited India on several occasions, four times as the UN Secretary-General.
During his recent India visit, Ban had gone to meet his late landlord's widow in New Delhi's Vasant Vihar. In an address to the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi earlier this month, Ban said he had left "half of my heart" in Delhi when he left the city.
"Whenever I come back to New Delhi, I become a full man. This is what I can tell you. I feel a really happy, special connection, now in addition to my professional career, I have some family here," Ban had said.