» Mussoorie Diary »
IN the year celebrating India's hard won right to be master of her own destiny, it is depressing to find in Mussoorie an instance of fragrant insult to the memory of a famous freedom fighter. Abbas Tyabji was a close friend of Gandhiji and, being a rich man, his sacrifice to help build a free India was very real. His Mussoorie house furnished with priceless antiques was donated to the nation in 1947. But since then the property, Southwood, has been commandeered by the CPWD and its fittings mysteriously unaccounted for. Now perhaps to cover up its negligence the CPWD is planning to demolish this national monument and show further contempt to the Tyabji family trust that gifted Southwood as a memorial to a freedom fighter. (Abbas was the uncle of India's gifted bird-man Dr Salim Ali.) The Mahatma and Tyabji shared a private joke and addressed each other as 'Mr Brrr'. This wasn't a Gujarati endearment but derived from their bitter experience of being stranded at a country station overnight in winter. All they could do was pace up and down exchanging 'brrr'.