Memory Trigger 22. The Vase.

A visitor came home on Saturday with a bouquet of roses for my daughter in love Manjiree. Normally whoever comes home brings a box of sweets which is the norm here but, this lady guest, a physician, decided that the three of us should not have sweets and instead brought the roses.

After she left, Manjiree arranged the flowers in a copper vessel which she would have rescued from some hidden corner either in the kitchen or the sideboard or wherever. I had not seen the vessel shown here holding the flowers in years. The vessel has a story behind it and this sudden appearance of it has triggered that memory.

Urmeela and I got married in November 1968 and after our honey moon went off to Delhi to set up our first ever home. In January 1969, the man who had recruited me for my then employer, Jimmy Twaddel was returning from the UK after Christmas holidays, to our Mill location in Kerala. He and his wife, were stopping over at Delhi to visit Delhi as well as Agra as by late 1969 they expected to return to our Head Office in Glasgow.

The two of them were staying at Delhi’s then only five star hotel The Oberoi and invited the two of us to dinner as, Jimmy wanted to get to know Urmeela the latest entrant to the company’s club of wives. For those who think that this is odd, it was the custom of almost all British organisations in India then to be small with the Management cadre as a well knit family. As they grew larger and mergers and acquisitions played havoc with cultures, that changed but, at that point of time, it was still the practice for Senior Managers to take an interest in the affairs of Junior Managers.

For both Urmeela and me, The Oberoi was an experience by itself. The first five star hotel in Delhi that we had gone to and we were extremely happy to be invited. After the dinner and as we were parting company, the Twaddels presented us with a largish box as a wedding gift. We thanked them and came to our quarters and opened the package to find this vessel. There was a note inside in Jim’s impeccable handwriting in cursive to the effect that it was a copper vessel and drinking water stored in it overnight would be very helpful for both of us. There was a small booklet to the same effect attached to the letter.

This was the first ever wedding gift that we received other than the envelopes of cash that we had at the reception and Urmeela cherished it for that reason. It has travelled all over the country with us on a number of transfers and after many years has once again made an entrance into my life! Seeing that again, brought back memories of my interview with Jim and subsequent meetings as well as this wonderful gift that his lovely wife and he gave us.

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