Friday, 5 April 2013

Zarin and Baji Tavadia

Zarin and Baji, a young Parsi-couple at THE HOTEL METROPOLE in Nainital, managed the daily chores, dividing duties between themselves and other Partners, when they met the Late Shri Nathji,  HH Bhola Nathji in the summer of 1972. (This 1972 photograph  of Zarin and Baji  Nainital, is about the time when they met Shri Nathji. This is taken in the dinning room of the Hotel Metrolole) Thus began one of the most memorable and long-cherished relationships with Shri Bhola Nathji and HH Priya Nathji, which they continue to maintain even to this day. They fondly recollect the divine glow and awe-inspiring aura that surrounded Shri BholaNathji’s personality.  Their meeting with HIM was a chance occurrence, when HE chose to stay at The Metropole Hotel in Nainital, where Baji was the 'Managing Partner' since he joined the 'partnership' with four other 'Local' Partners in 1966.
 This is how HH Priya Nathji has recollected that meeting, in his own words: -

" The year was 1972 and my father, Shri BholaNathji was resting incognito from the crowds of the plains in the hill resort of Naini Tal in the Himalayas!  We were staying at the Hotel Metropole, one of the oldest hotels in Naini Tal  -   its imposing structure being a veritable 'heritage hotel' from the days of the British in India.
HH Shri Nathji's dress and royal bearing made people think that he was a Maharaja. Everyone was struck by the unearthly glow and extraordinary beauty that his face was endowed with. It was as if he was some being from another world, his divine personality oozing an aura of love-filled divinity, which shone through his calm presence and made everyone stop and stare at him.
Most of the people staying at the Hotel Metropole were from the upper echeleons of society, comprising wealthy business magnates from Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and similar cities;  they had all come with their families for their summer holidays in the picturesque hills of Nainital. Some people  were even regular holiday-makers whose permanent resort  in Summer was this large and comfortable Hotel with a mystic view of surrounding hills above and outstretched lake below.
These wealthy people were least concerned about the comfort of others and had 'loud' parties in their rooms, late into the night with scarce regard for other guests' peaceful sleep! When the waiters were asked  why didn't the hotel management complain to the 'District Authorities' about the misdemeanour of these callously drunken guests,  the waiter said that some of the persons responsible for observing  'Law & Order' in this small town,  were themselves enjoying at such roaring parties thrown by their friends, the so-called 'Guests', who loved to publicly entertain reputed Officials and the 'Gentry' in common.
It was this kind of a disturbing episode one night,(and destiny, of course!) that promptly entailed HH to personally meet with 'Zarin & Baji' the next morning, who profusely apologized for previous night's event that had  disturbed the peaceful sleep of HH, and HE soon realized they did not lag behind in wanting to 'discipline' the boisterous guests on professing their helplessness during such 'seasonal periods' of businessm which most hill-station hotels face as it is not entirely easy to invoke acts of kindliness and consideration from people who had come to enjoy with abandon, irrespective of not only becoming unaware but even apologizing for causing a nuisance to other 'quieter', sensible human beings!
It was at this precise time of having personally met Shri Nathji briefly at first, and more regularly, daily during HH's stay that Zarin & Baji had also assumed MY FATHER was a Maharaja with a 'vast difference', who, in all HIS GLORY, would still not be able to control the rowdiness of these people, who would be out-of-control, night after night, and, therefore, out of sheer concern  they helped Shri Nathji (and Priya Nathji) to secure a room at another hotel, the next day, called Grand Hotel, whose owners were personally known to them..But Shri Nathji was sad at heart. There was something in the well-caring Parsi couple's well-meaning demeanour that had touched HIS heart, as much as they were attracted to HIS HOLINESS' radiant personality.  Hence,  after a brief stay at the Grand, HE chose to go back to The Metropole, where WE spent a few more days at this Resort before deciding to return home to Delhi.
On the day of OUR departure, the staff of the Hotel had lined up outside OUR room with tears in their eyes, and as MY FATHER bade them farewell, it was 'acknowledged' by each one of these simple 'workers' present, that they were not only astonished but grateful to God, who had given them an opportunity to 'serve' a rare and gentle human being, whose divinity brought a certain 'brightness' in their simple lives, which  they had so far spent 'serving' their employers and guests, as faithfully as they could, to give their humble families a frugal livelihood!
Zarin and Baji also came into OUR room to bid farewell to their esteemed and rare guests. Shri Nathji's divine glory was at its peak as this young couple came before him and HIS words flowed out like the nectar of life, flooding the hearts of the young couple, who fought back their tears and respectfully bade farewell to Shri Nathji, whom they had learn to admire and revere in a short time, acknowledging HIS exceptionally Sacred Personality and addressing HIM as a 'Divine Leader', the kind of whom they had never come across in their lives; they also 'witnessed' HIS attraction, on two occasions when they got to meet HIS HOLINESS during their ensuing visits to Delhi to and from Nainital, (unfortunately missing US in Mumbai on one of OUR visits there)!
Before departing, Shri Nathji said to them - "It takes just a fraction of a second for a photograph to be taken, but that photograph will remain etched in our hearts and minds, forever!"  And thus, in  true spirit and style,  this relationship of Divine Love & Mutual Admiration was established in one brief moment and, ever since, has remained in all our hearts, forever!  Indeed, it is evident that OUR ASSOCIATION has lasted over the years -  even after HH has renounced the World and left for his heavenly abode way back in 1992.
The Tavadias had presented a thermos flask to Shri Nathji on parting-- and Shri Nathji kept it next to his bedside all these years, addressing it as the "Tavadia Flask", with love.
The relationship exists even now - with. Zarin and Baji who are on Facebook - and  I am in touch with them with the same feeling of love that had existed during the lifetime of 'OUR' FATHER, ever since OUR relation was first cemented between my father, HH Shri Nathji and them, at Hotel Metropole, Nainital. "

Zarin was born on 1st November 1941 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She was born and brought up in Mumbai and did her Senior Cambridge from Convent of Jesus Mary at Byculla. Baji was born on 21st May 1939 in Surat in Gujarat and stayed with his parents and siblings in Surat, till the age of 9. He had a paternal aunt in Nainital, with whom he was sent to Nainital, to pursue his studies (as Gujarat at that time had no English-medium School).  After he completed his Senior Cambridge from St. Joseph's College, he started helping his Uncle run a medium-sized hotel called The Waldorf, and as years passed by, Baji found himself interested in pursuing Hotel Management as his career, after acquiring expertise at the Bombay Catering Institute.  Therefore, on completion of his education, he got fully occupied with the running of this Hotel, till the time he was invited by one of his friends, who was the co-owner of the newly-acquired Hotel Metropole along with a group of four other Local Partners, who willingly assigned  the resposibility of 'managing' this  hotel, to Baji, since  he was interested in joining their 'partnership', which was offered to him.

Hence, in 1966, Baji took over the management of the Hotel. In 1967, Baji and Zarin got married and Zarin came to Nainital. The husband-and-wife duo now collectively looked after the affairs of this large hotel, successfully. In 1968,  they had their first daughter and in 1975 they had their second daughter.  In 1979, however, Zarin had to come down to Mumbai with her daughters to look after her ailing parents, as she was their only child, while Baji stayed on in Nainital, to manage the Hotel for the next three decades.   Zarin, who had been working before her marriage,  took up a job with  a TATA Co. in 1979 and was with the Tata Group for over 22 years, functioning as PA-Secretary to the MD. She retired in 2002 - and after a short stint with a Private Co. - chose to lead the life of a homemaker after 2003, on becoming a grand-mother to her second daughter's children, who all live in the UK. (The photo bellow is of Zarin and Baji of the time when they both retired.)

In 1997, Baji left Nainital when the lease of the hotel expired.  This thoroughly 'satisfied' couple lead a simple life and   continue to occupy Zarin's parents' house in the Western Suburb of Mumbai called Vile Parle, where they lead a quietly active life in this small Parsi Colony, holding in their hearts and minds, a 'mixed' treasure-trove of memories 'surrounding' their lives in Nainital, where they met and made numerous friends, especially during seasonal times, and share these memories with their old and new friends in Mumbai. Their elder Daughter is married and settled in Mumbai, in Juhu; she has a 20 yr. old son.  They younger daughter who is married and resides in UK, has two small children - a girl and boy in that order, who are 9 and 7 yrs. at present.

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