Monday, 20 August 2012

Lodhi Hotel

This is the photograph of Lodhi Hotel, which is located at Barakhamba Avenue, Connaught Place, New Delhi. It is a large hotel with a total of 207 rooms.
The start of 1969 saw Shri Nathji, Pran Nath and Priya Nath living at Lodi Hotel. The crowds at South Extension had become so persistent and the place had become so uncomfortably crowded, that Shri Nathji and the boys decided to take a rest. Their health had begun to give way from the suffocating atmosphere of the ground floor flat and the constant stream of visitors with the perennial knocking at the door. Shri Nathji had booked rooms No. 50 and 51 at the hotel and lived there in seclusion for three months, going out but occasionally to the city. However, the devotees found out about their presence there because of an inadvertent invitation card sent out by Sahadeva Tayal on the 21st of January 1969, on Shri Babaji’s birthday.
The assistant manager of the hotel, a certain Mr. Gupta, had been a seeking soul. He was a great poet also and quoted his wife's poems, who became greatly attached to HH Shri Mahaprabhuji at the hotel and remembered him even years afterwards in 1980's, when Shri Nathji visited the hotel again. He had wanted his wife, who was a poetess,  to come and have his darshan, but alas this was not to be. Perhaps it was to satiate the hidden thirst in him that Shri Nathji had to go to the hotel, or perhaps, it was to give his darshan to the lady manager Mrs. Bhagat who was perhaps the wife of Congress minister HKL Bhagat, and the numerous waiters and staff at the hotel or the numerous passengers who stayed there, who would otherwise never have got a glimpse of him.

Shri Nathji likes The Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant at Lodhi Hotel. He went there once in 1982 with HH Praiya Nathji, the Urhekar family and the aging Veeran Devi. The food is made delicious by the presence of Shri Nathji, even as all present in the restaurant stop eating and begin to stare at him. Who is the Being who has entered the restaurant in their midst? What strange light  shines forth from His face? How great a feeling of Peace and Love he radiates! And yet his outer form is that of a Maharaja–a King, a royal majestic bearing that nothing can compare with.
The manager as well as the waiters are overwhelmed and stand around his table even as they serve him with special care. Shri Nathji recollects how years ago in the same restaurant the manager had taken him around the place and shown him the cleanliness they maintained in their kitchen.Shri Nathji eats from a full ‘thhaali’ of spicy South Indian dishes, and he really enjoys them, as they are a change from the bland food he had been taking at home.

In 1983 The drain in Shri Nathji’s kitchen becomes clogged, and the foul water begins to pour into the house. The drain has to be cleaned with acid, which is poured into the pockets that are clogged. The fumes are so noxious and toxic that Priya Nath is all at once afraid for Shri Nathji's health, and suggests that they leave the house for the night and go and sleep out in a hotel or someone’s house till the horrible smell is gone.
Shri Nathji suggests going out for dinner and returning after some hours by which time the smell would probably have subsided. And so, Shri Nathji, Priya Nath, Sudha and Shri Urhekar go out to the Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant at Lodhi Hotel.
The Manager of Woodlands Hotel welcomes Shri Nathji very respectfully, while all the waiters salute him and a large number of them crowd around his table. It appears as if a Maharaja has entered the Hotel. Shri Nathji is dressed in his striped navy blue achkan, yellow turban, dark glasses, green pyjamas and new, black, shiny shoes.
Priya Nath tells Shri Nathji to be careful about the chillies in the food and to eat as
little as possible. After they have eaten, they leave the place. The doorman recognises Shri Nathji and Shri Nathji gives him a tip of five rupees, even as he comes and touches Shri Nathji's feet.
This time the old Manager, Shri Gupta, is no longer there. He had been greatly touched by Shri Nathji's personality.
As Shri Nathji and Priya Nath and Sudha and Urhekar come out of the hotel in the taxi they find that there is a steady downpour of rain, which has become so intense that the taxis are virtually swamped in knee-deep water. The roads appear to be clogged and the cars can scarcely move. There is every possibility of the taxi engine being stalled by the water, and Priya Nath feels that they should return to the hotel and wait till the night is over and the water on the road is cleared. Shri Nathji agrees.
And so they stay in the hotel for the night. Priya Nath has to borrow some money from the taxi driver who readily obliges. The room at Lodhi Hotel is beautifully clean and Shri Nathji enjoys the night’s stay there. Inside the hotel room, Shri Nathji suggests staying awake all night. Shri Nathji is given the only bed in the room while Priya Nath sleeps on two chairs put together, Sudha sleeps on the floor and Urhekar sleeps in a sitting posture with his back to a wall, which Priya Nath humorously defines as a “yoga sleep posture!”
In the morning Shri Nathji is hungry and has toasts and tea and later ‘poories’ for breakfast. It has been a most adventurous occasion. Before leaving the hotel, Shri Nathji takes up a Hotel Pad and writes a beautiful ghazal on it. Later Shri Nathji says:
“We must always listen to what Priyaji tells us! He had said we must spend the night in a hotel, and we were forced to do so by the rain!”
It was the first incident of its kind in Shri Nathji's life at Delhi, where he had to sleep in a hotel even when he had his own residence there. Shri Nathji, HH Priya Nath, Urhekar and Sudha return to their residence at Sarvodya Enclave in the morning.

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