As Air India 001 took off from New Delhi on July 17, 2005 with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a historic visit to the United States, the buzzword on board about the bilateral ties was 'upgrading relations.'
The broad focus was on strengthening overall ties. The focus, though, was on whether Dr Singh would get the US to supply nuclear fuel to India. Even optimists among the government staff were guarded. Who knows what guarantees the US will ask, they wondered. There was an air of uncertainty about how the visit will go.
Then, the two leaders met. President Bush said, "Dr Singh you are a good man. I look forward to do business with you."
The rest is history.
The first and foremost reason that the Indo-US nuclear deal happened was the chemistry between the two leaders.
The way Bush welcomed Dr Singh to the US, the way he reassured the prime minister, and the way he was adamant in forcing his officials to get the deal ready so that he could give something concrete to Dr Singh when he visited India were all unprecedented.
So was Dr Singh's resolve and steel as he stepped over hurdle after hurdle that the Opposition parties and the Left allies back home created.
In fact, when the country's nuclear scientists became vocal against the deal, he gave them a chance to air their opinion and tried to assuage their concerns.
In all, both two leaders, whatever be their other shortcomings, firmly cemented their places as the most proactive leaders as far as Indo-US ties go.
On the following pages, we chart the course that the historic Indo-US nuclear deal took and the people who helped make it happen.
US President George W Bush arrives with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a joint press conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, July 18.
Original reportage: Aziz Haniffa, Sheela Bhatt. Compiled by Krishna Kumar | Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Complete Coverage: The Indo-US nuclear tango