September 18, 2008

Marriages and such

Durgadhiwas saw many marriages,from Gangumai to Nana.Some were twinned with thread ceremonies of Shrini and Ramachandra-his younger brother.

One marriage can now be referred to as a generation has gone by.

Everything was ready, cards distributed,outstation relatives arrived,and a Vyahibhojan was in progress.The prospective bride's father asked a question of the groom,he did not hear it properly,so he cupped a hand to his ear and asked 'Kay mhanalat?' This prompted the gentleman to ask whether the groom was hard of hearing, the answer was 'Yes'.The bride's party all got up from their seats and said "We did not know this.We do not want a deaf son in law.The wedding is cancelled.!'

Kaka who was looking after things,called for the list of 'sthalas',who had been interviewed earlier, and picked the runner-up,so to speak.He sent an emissary to that girl's parents,and asked them if they were ready to have our groom as their son in law.[very necessary precaution !] They agreed, and as they say history was made.

The wedding took place at the same muhurta,even revised invitations were distributed.

September 7, 2008


A variety of visitors called on Dada all the time.Some were kept in waiting at the hall above the porch,and were called in turn to visit Dada in the main hall. Of course most were from Pune but there were a few VIPs from outside.

When the first state cabineit was formed in 1938 or so,many meetings were unofficially held at DD.,mainly because the ministers had no experience of managing government.Most of the ministers in the Kher ministry used to come.

Another prominent visitore was Late Shri Vaikunthlal Mehta,he used to hold long discussions with Dada.He was a remarkable man in physical terms. To look at him,one would imagine a slight breeze can blow him away.He often had lunch or dinner at DD.His meals consisted of 5 small purees-20mm-, small vati of milk,a spoonful of bhaji,and exactly one spoon of rice.How he could survive on this I dont know.Once he came with the prospective chairman of state transport,which was born that time.I forget his name.They were to stay the night. I made the arrangement at Swagat,which was vacant. Kaka was served a transfer order on the day of the Vastushanta]They had a cup of tea,and went back to DD.
Another VIP was the Late maharaja of gwalior,Jayajirao.Unlike others,he had made a prior appointment to have tea with Dada.We did not even have a decent crockery set,so I went to "Cheap Store" in camp and brought everything. The conical cups are from that meeting.

Prof P.K.Atre, Master Vinayak used to come often to solve some money problems of Navayug Film Studio.However Dada refused to become Chairman.But I remember we used to get free passes for screenings of their films!


September 2, 2008

Letter of memories from Ram Kale

This is a letter to Abhijit from Dr. Ram Kale, who has many associations with our house.

Dear Abhijit,
Thanks for your mail. I am writing here some of my memories of Durgadhiwas.
Durgadhiwas is a lovely mansion. From the road, it looks like a sage, engrossed in deep meditation. Its design is unique; there is no wastage of space, no passages. I understand that at one time, it had a second floor also. I guess, for a professor of Fergusson College, this must have been a dream project. Large house, sprawling compound, in short a villa. Your great-grandfather was indeed a man of vision. I was so impressed by his personality that I ventured to write an essay on him. It was published in ' Vyapari-Mitra ' Denali special Issue.

During my two years at the Fergusson College, 1954-1956, Subhash and I were batch mates and at our practicals, Subhash used to be my side. My hostel friends were impressed when Subhash , a rather reserved person, called me home for lunch at Durgadhiwas. Nanasahib and Subhash's mother took special care and were cordial to me. As I recollect, during conversation, I mentioned about my likes and dislikes, more particularly, about 'ladies fingers ', bhendi-bhaji. Later, Subhash again invited me around my birthday in November. This time, the table was set with decorations of petals and leaves, Maushi prepared fried bhendi, and told me to taste with an assurance that I would like it. Yes, I did. For me, this was the first time ever that my birthday was celebrated. Therefore, the memories are fresh.

I did not score enough to get into Medical College. I think, Subhash was away somewhere in north when the results arrived. He had told Nana to send my result. Nana sent a telegram. After I entered Nair Hospital Dental College, I was feeling depressed. Subhash invited me to visit Poona and stay at Durgadhiwas. Your family consoled me and assured that I shall do well in my college and I should put my heart in my studies. I must have visited Durgadhiwas again once or perhaps twice, because my colleagues at the Dental College, particularly, Anjuben Jhaveri and Anil Joglekar would tease me asking if I have ' toontoon ' in Pune. I would bluff and say, ' yes, she is ghari, gori and has dimple '. Later, when Anju met Shobha, she asked me this was the toontoon. Anjuben visits India often, as she stays in Washington DC and I am sure, she would happily confirm this story.

I was passing through Poona after a week, at the invitation from Helene Moos-maushi at Gargoti and came to Durgadhiwas. Your grandmother was admitted to Sasson Hospital and Subhash told me that I should not visit her but he assured me that he would convey my wish to meet her.

On my return from Chicago, I joined Sassoon Hospital Dental Dept. but could not stomach the atmosphere of hatred and distrust of Hon. Staff. So I decided to leave the post. Subhash had realized my predicament as I did not have a place to stay. He told me to stay at Durgadhiwas with Nana and I had memorable time there from 1st Feb. to 31st May 1963. I came in close contact with Nana. I would prepare my morning tea and leave for Dr. G.V.Desai's clinic. After dinner, I would walk back from Deccan Gymkhana to Durgadhiwas, I was given the room behind the dining room. I would discuss with Nana many things . He taught me the importance of discretion or Taartamya. At times, Prof. Appasahib Kokil and Mai-atyabai would visit and there would be more interesting chats.

In June, 1964, I got married to Shobha. My Wedding Invitation had a footnote, stating ‘No Presents, Please’. This irked Nana and Subhash no end, and we would argue on this subject endlessly. I stuck to my family tradition. Eventually, they did follow and joined my way.

Brigadier Upasani and Sumati-maushi were occupying the ground floor. I had developed good rapport with them. Once, I went for a dinner. Though Upasani-sahib was a teetotaler, he had stocked variety of alcoholic beverages. He offered me a drink, but I declined, saying that though I would normally enjoy a ' chhota ', I can not have it in Durgadhiwas. To me this place is like a temple.

Durgadhiwas is now 80 + and it shows few signs of its age. But I want you to know that your family has kept it in great shape though I do not like the tin protector on the terrace.

With best regards to you, Sumita and Shreedhar, who is the fifth generation occupant,