Recently, on my way back home from the Bangalore Airport, I had the privilege of a chance meeting with Mrs. Lily Tharoor, the mother of Dr. Shashi Tharoor. It was a remarkable incident, really, as I had no idea who she was when I started talking to her!
Well, let’s start from the beginning. After landing in Bangalore from Ahmedabad, I collected my bags, exited the terminal and boarded a waiting Vayu Vajra city bus going towards Sadashivnagar. After about five minutes, this elderly lady came in and sat in the row in front of me.
After some time, the bus conductor came to issue tickets. I overheard her asking him where she should get down to go to Brunton Road. He said the nearest stop is at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. He said she could take a rickshaw from there to get to her destination.
Now, Bangalore’s autorickshaw wallahs are notorious for grossly and shamelessly overcharging after 9 PM, when the so-called Silicon Valley of India goes to sleep. I was quite sure that, being an elderly lady, those rickshaw drivers would harass her no end. I was supposed to get down at Sadashivnagar, where I had parked my car at my cousin brother’s house, and then drive on to Koramangala. So I thought let me ask her if she would like me to drop her home. If she agreed, she could get down with me at Sadashivnagar and come with me by car.
I went ahead and asked her. She was very happy and exclaimed that “Sai Baba always helps me when I need it!” Apparently she had also been worried about how she would get to her destination at that hour. I smiled and said that it was ok and I was glad to help.
Then we got talking. I noticed that she was very well educated and quite intellectual in her thoughts. Sometime later, she casually commented that her son had contested for the post of UN Secretary-General. I was taken aback! I asked her what her son’s name was. To this, she replied “Shashi Tharoor!”
I was really amazed! I mean, what a coincidence, meeting the mother of the famous Dr. Shashi Tharoor, former UN under-Secretary-General and current MP candidate from Thiruvananthapuram! I was very happy and told her that it’s a pleasure and a honor for me to be talking to her.
Finally after 20 minutes or so, we reached Mekhri Circle, where we had to get down. My cousin brother was waiting there with my car, and we dropped him home and then proceeded towards Brunton Road. On the way, she even talked to my mother over the phone! It was very gracious of her to do so.
After a little bit of effort, we managed to track down her friend’s house. I dropped her there, gave my business card and then left.
The next day, she emailed me to thank me and asked me to keep in touch. I also replied saying it was my pleasure to do so. I wished her and her son all the best for the future.
P.S. Today, I found out from Wikipedia that her pre-marital name was Sulekha Menon, and that she adopted the nickname “Lily.”