Sunday, February 11, 2018

Before the End of Innocence

In Bangalore in the early seventies, before the West End Hotel was taken over by GRD Tata from Bhabha and very vastly expanded, Ashok was the ultimate hotel, where everyone from film stars to politicians to whoever was someone, with exceptions like me, stayed. The top, ninth floor was where I always stayed, and film stars  shooting in Bangalore also stayed on that floor. When I stayed there Dharmendra, not yet married to Hema Malini, was in the suite next to mine, shooting for Shalimar (a total disaster) with Rex Harrison.

To avoid getting carried away with my narrative, I will quickly come to the picture above: I was checking out of the hotel when I noticed her, toddling all over the lobby.  She turned out to be the daughter of the Manager, a Sardarji. I requested that I be allowed to take her pictures. She had a fever, but because of my pleading, the Manager called his wife, who held the baby on her shoulder. I took several pictures, and was so taken by her beauty and innocence that I wrote a letter, sealed it, and told the Manager to preserve it until the girl turned 25, and then give it to her to read.

This is the long and short of my emotional outpouring. For those interested, we moved outside near the swimming pool, because the light inside the hotel was inadequate. The baby was held by the mother with her head above the mother's shoulder, looking behind her. I took the pictures from behind to avoid the mother's head.

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