Meeting the Maharaja!

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About 7 years ago, on our way back from Surendranagar, we touched Dhrangadhra. We were supposed to take the by-pass and didn’t have to enter the city. But it is Dhrangadhra, my mother’s birthplace. She had lived here with her family and matriculated from here. It is her first Home. She got emotional. And even got more emotional because I had never been to Dhrangadhra and had never seen her city, old house and the palace where she lived with her family in the palace quarter for a long time.

My elder sister had spent some time there during the vacations.But I was not even born then. So we decided to visit the city.

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[Nanaji]

My maternal grandfather (Nanaji) was the Household Secretary of the Mahajara of Dhrangadhra, Maharaja Sir Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III. He was known as Bapu. Nanaji was the only person who knew Stenography at that time. Bapu selected him for his personal as well as state correspondence. As a result, Nanaji had to travel along with Bapu in his private saloon to various places like Bombay, Pune, etc. Bapu had also provided a residential quarter in his large Pune estate known as ‘Dhrangadhra House’ to Nanaji.

We have heard so many incidents from that time from mummy and papa; the personality, the impact of royal life, how my mother and masi used to get special treatments on birthdays and festivals like Navaratri and Diwali in the Rani-Vaas by Maharaniji, and many more like this.

We reached the palace at 3 in the noon. We took a round of the palace and visited the quarters. My mother was very happy to visit this place again after so long. She was totally nostalgic.

At the main giant door of the palace, we heard someone saying that the Maharaja Saheb (Bapu) was in the palace. My father talked to that man and gave our introduction. He also requested him if we could meet Bapu. That man got confused. How can someone meet the Maharaja without any appointment? 

Then my mother gave the reference of Nanaji to that man. And while they were talking, another man who was listening to the conversation, interrupted, ‘Are you talking about Mr. Dave?’

Dave was the name which Nanaji was known by. Bapu used to call him Dave instead of his name. Mother said yes. That man said that he had been working on the literature in the palace library and had come across this name many times. So Dave sounded familiar to him.

After waiting for a while, we got to know from that man that we could meet Bapu in sometime. We were obviously happy.

It was a huge room with a very simple interior. Bapu was sitting behind the writing table. He was wearing shirt, trouser with a pistachio-green robe. It was a simply royal atmosphere indeed!

First, my father entered the room. He folded hands and bid Namaste. We followed him.

Bapu said, ‘You must be Dave’s son-in-law.’

Father said, ‘Yes.’

Then Bapu met each of us. He talked to me and my sister about our studies and education. He enquired about my Naniji’s health.

Mother remembered Maharaniji and Bapu’s sisters. She wished for well-being of Bapu’s close family. She also recalled Bapu’s two pet dogs, Babar and Diadree. We came to know that the man who made this meeting possible had also named his pet dog, Babar.

Bapu further asked about my Nanaji’s terminal illness. Father said that Nanaji remembered Bapu till his last breath. He used to tell everyone presented in the room to bid Namaste Bapu. He constantly felt that Bapu was around even when he was bed-ridden.

Though Bapu was very simple, his royal personality reminded my mother of the old days when Bapu used to attire in dark suits and smoking cigarettes in fine cigarette holders. He had the habit of giving dictations to my Nanaji while playing table tennis or walking in his large study.

Bapu was very well read. He used to spend a lot of time in his large library filled with world class dictionaries and encyclopedias. He had scholarly knowledge of Sanskrit Sahityaa and various Shashtras. He played a very important role in Political Integration of Princely States of Saurashtra. He was also the patron of Rajkumar College in Rajkot. He was an art lover and used to love Dogs too. He also had various breed of Dogs.

Bapu was very kind and caring. He used to steal time to select gifts for Nanaji’s family and toys for mummy and masi. He also sent his car when my mother had an injury while playing. And frequently enquired about her health.

After Nanaji’s retirement, during his one evening walk, Bapu noticed him from a distance on the road. He asked his driver to reverse the car and enquired about the well-being of Nanaji and his family.

Bapu had the personality so noble that commands our respect! I think this is the main reason why Nanaji was remembering Bapu like God with so much respect even on his death bed.

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