When Vajpayee Made Tea for Kolkata Family and Watched Umrao Jaan
“Atal ji used to play ludo and chess with us. He was a very down to earth, even after becoming an MP,” remembers Kamal Beriwal
Atal Bihar Vajpayee eating the famous Kolkata Puchkas
As former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee breathed his last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, miles away in Kolkata a pall of gloom descended upon the house of Beriwalas on 167 Chittaranjan Avenue.
This is the house of Ghanshyam Beriwala, a well-known businessman and a friend of the former PM. Beriwala first met Vajpayee in 1952 during an RSS meet at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s office in Delhi. A house, that Vajpayee frequently visited during his stay in Kolkata.
Speaking to News18, Kamal Beriwala, son of Ghanyashyam Beriwala, said, “Whenever Atalji was in Kolkata, he would avoid staying in a hotel and would live in our house in Chittaranjan Avenue, just like a family member.”
“My father Ghanyashyam Beriwala and Atal ji were good friends and besides discussing politics, they used to share poems, talk about movies and street food,” he added.
Kamal Beriwal remembered how Vajpayee was fond of Kolkata Phuchkas (Golgappe) and Churmur (a spicy chaat made of phuchkawala, potato, tamarind water and spices). “He was very fond of Kolkata and its food. He used to ask huchkawala to add extra spices.”
The family members of the Beriwal household fondly remember that one time when Vajpayee made tea for them during one of his visits and they sat together and watched the Rekha starrer, Umrao Jaan on the VCR.
“Umrao Jaan was one of his favourite films. He was fond of movies also and watched several with us,” said Kamal.
Vajpayee visited Beriwal’s resident for the first time in 1956 when Kamal Beriwal was born and became a frequent visitor after that.
Beriwal still cherishes these memories deeply. “Atal ji used to play ludo and chess with us. He was a very down to earth, even after becoming an MP,” Kamal said, recalling how his last meeting with Vajpayee in Kolkata happened in 2004, when he was the PM.
Vajpayee's mortal remains were be taken to the BJP headquarters at 10am on Friday and the final rites will take place at 4pm at Smriti Sthal near Rajghat.
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