22 October, 2020

Even The Jasper Blooms

Indira Gandhi understood the arts, a world defined by the pursuit of excellence

R. Prasad
Even The Jasper Blooms
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I walk up the gravel path to the government guest house at Chasma Shahi in Srinagar with my mother. The promise of a meeting with Chacha Nehru could get a seven year old going early in the morning in those days. We are greeted by a lady arranging cut branches in a large bowl. She does not approve of the guest house - "big, cold and ugly," she says. She smiles at me and tells my mother to go in. Holding out her hand, she asks, "To aap mere saath bahar chalenge?" Will you come out with me?

The next ten minutes are spent in the garden. The lady is talking to the gardeners but she takes the trouble to engage me as well. "Do you know the colours before they bloom?" "Will these bulbs last in Delhi’s heat?" My mother returns, the lady bids me goodbye and tells me to come back and see the garden in bloom. What I remember most from this first meeting with Indira Gandhi is her dislike of government architecture and her ‘no fuss’ approach towards me.

I met her again, over the years, but it was a cultural project that really brought me in close...

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