Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Reminiscences Sardar Mohan Singh Oberoi

....Soon after I joined the Cecil, there was a change of management. Mr Clarke succeeded Mr Grove as manager. For the first time a small piece of luck came my way.

My knowledge of stenography helped me take over the post of cashier and stenographer to Mr Clarke, and thus began my grounding on how hotels run. I worked and maintained an interest in my job. The fact that I knew my efforts were noted encouraged me.

It was while I was working in this capacity that Pandit Motilal Nehru came to stay at the Cecil, which was his usual place of residence when he came to Simla. He was then leader of the newly formed Swaraj Party but known throughout the country for having renounced a princely law practice to participate in the Freedom Movement with Mahatma Gandhi.

Panditji had an important report, which needed to by typed speedily and with care. I sat up all night to complete the report and when I delivered it to him the next morning, he took out a hundred-rupee note and handed it to me with a word of thanks.

I am an emotional person and had received little kindness in my short life. This gesture of Panditji's brought tears to my eyes and I quickly left the room.

I could not have guessed then that I had met the father of the future prime minister of India, and that I myself would be one day a Member of Parliament during his leadership. One hundred rupees, which the wealthy throw away, was for me a fortune and made a big difference in my salary.

So high was the purchasing power of the rupee that I was able to buy a wristwatch for my wife, clothes for our baby and a much needed raincoat for myself.


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