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,


1 comment:

Chandu said...

I know of course that Ram and Subhash are great friends, but I didn't know Ram stayed there for some time.