Dhara Shah knows about everything that is known to mankind. Literally everything! Yes she does. She is a walking and talking encyclopedia. I do not know how she manages to keep her updated about everything. And ask her about China or International politics her eyes would light-up like a child in a candy shop.
I had met Dhara for the first time when she came to meet me after an interview that I had given to “The Hindu.” She bowled us all with her smartness and intelligence. She joined NalandaWay. I could never keep pace with her in world knowledge but sure matched her interest in food.
Once, Dhara and I were eating at the Murugan Idli Shop, when a call came. A senior manager from a large multi-national organization was unreasonable and rude to me. We had worked hard for a meeting with a senior govt official for a project and they cut us off when it fructified.
“How dare he behave with you this way? Who the hell is he?”
Dhara was livid. She always spoke more eloquently when she got angry.
“You cannot allow people to treat you like this.”
I was upset too, but did not want to ruffle feathers. Time had made me thick-skinned but Dhara was from a different mould. I was touched by her affection towards me and NalandaWay. Dhara worked with NalandaWay for over a year. Both she and her mother continued to make a generous donation every month to us.
Dhara went on to become the political advisor at the British High Commission in Mumbai.
I gifted her “A Brief History of Seven Killings” by Marlon James; it won the 2015 Booker prize.
Dhara, we miss your lunch box, those lip-smacking rotis, subzi and especially aloo bhujia. Sorry, only your lunch box dear. 😛