An evening with DN
You may remember DN from an old post. He started as an assigned driver from the hotel I was staying in 1998 and today he and his family are intricately tied to my family, my brother’s family and with my parents when they were alive.
Brother was in Guwahati. So, DN was there at the airport to pick me up. As always, we were talking about his family on our drive to the hotel and he was asking after mine. At some point, I mentioned how Sharmila and I were enjoying our retired, empty nesting lives. I asked him what will he do when he retires and all kids are gone.
He said he will go back to Bihar (where he is from). I cast some doubts on his plans. Wouldn’t all his friends be here? Wouldn’t medical facilities be better here?
He felt that he was very close to his relatives in his village and other villagers in general. And that, somehow, people there respect him. That is where he wants to die.
Around that time – about 4:45PM, when he had started talking about his plans after his last daughter gets married, we arrived at our hotel. I had my evening free (I had kept it that way expecting jet lag to hit me hard) and my brother was still half a day away from meeting me.
“Aap shaam ko kya kar raha hai?” I asked (What are you doing this evening?)
“Kuch nahi. Aap kahin jaayenge?” (Nothing really. Do you want to go somewhere?)
“Nahi. Aaj to tired hoon. Aap gaari park karke lobby mein aa jaayie. Main check in kar leta hoon. Phir aap ke saath chai piyenge”
I asked him to park the car and come to the lobby. I will finish my checking in and join him for tea.
In reality, I did not even have to do that. Indrani (duty manager in the hotel) was ready with my keys and she sent the luggage straight to my room. I grabbed DN and went to the top floor to have some tea with him in the exec lounge. If you did not know this, Indian hotels, especially the big ones, are a consummate meeting points for smartly dressed folks who gather there just to hang around and enjoy all the facilities of a hotel – not to speak of the air conditioning in this oppressive hot and humid weather. And taking a lot of selfies of course. If those pictures did not go to social media, it is like that event had never even happened. So, the lobbies tend to be very crowded.
The lounge upstairs gave us a quiet refuge where we could sit and talk for a long time.
Which we did. For four straight hours!! Needless to say, I avoided the whole hysteresis curve of having coffee to wake up only to have wine and feel sleepy later. So, went for the Old Fashioned straight!!
However, in those four hours, I heard about DN’s post retirement dream. He took me thru his entire family chain starting from his grandfather and how his land was divided between his dad and his uncle and then how those have been further subdivided among their sons. (The daughters always get married off and they do not get any land).
He took me thru how he has divided his dad’s property between his younger brother, half-brother and himself. And his plans of building a house in his side of the land. At some point we were deep in Google Maps looking for Dharampur Asli in Bihar and then looked up his plot of land thru satellite pictures.
We were so engrossed in the story that we had some paper, pen and a pad brought up to sketch the whole plan of how the land has been divided in the family and where he was going to build his house after retirement.
By 9, I was too tired and he needed to go back home to his family.
While DN is no stranger to me, it felt enriching to talk to him about a part of his life that I was not exposed to at all!!!