The brief to set up the Kailash colony house was given by Mr. Jaitley himself.
After initial discussions and briefing by Sonali and Rohan (his daughter and son), I was to meet Mr. Jaitley to discuss about the house where the family wanted to move on the 17th of June.
This wasn’t a usual client-designer meeting, because he was no ordinary client.
So, obviously those who know him would not be surprised at his first and most important question to me- “So how are you planning to adjust all the books in the new house?”
Hence, while setting up the house, every room in the house was focussed around creating space for his books first.
The other important things discussed were the photographs in the house, his favourite chesterfield sofas and of course his Lazyboy chairs.
The last I met him, just before he went to hospital this time, he had another request, he needed more shelves in his lounge, where he spent his maximum time to accommodate more books. I don’t think I could have ever met his requirements for enough bookshelves…though I am still going to try!
It wasn’t easy to move a whole house in four weeks, especially a house which had the family’s passionately nurtured collections of paintings, carpets, curios and of course their books.
But the directive was clear, Mr. Jaitley didn’t want to spend a penny of the tax payers money by keeping the Lutyens bungalow at Krishna Menon Marg even for one extra day.
The day of shifting was sacrosanct. From that date onwards, Mr. Jaitley wanted to pay his own electricity and water bills by shifting to his own house at Kailash colony.
Mr. Jaitely made a mark in Indian politics, mentored uncountable number of people in his sphere of influence which included lawyers, politicians, journalists and many others but he did say to us one day that “Gratitude is one of the shortest lived emotions in the world” and that he said with no grudge or malice towards anyone.
He said it as a matter of fact and that’s how always I had heard him say things.
So, he always saw what most people don’t see, and that is the other side of the coin.
And that’s what made him a larger than life human being who lived on this earth. His success was perhaps incidental— for a man with such clarity, knowledge and passion for every detail in life is rare.
Mr. Jaitley was a man who lived an extremely fulfilled life, I think in his 66 years he lived a life which most of us would rarely live in multiple lives too.
He knew and understood every nuance of design. From my discussions with him on how the wardrobe space has overwhelmed the design of homes of today; to of course the quintessential poetry and Hindi movie songs he adored, he always came across as a complete man and always left me in awe.
One special thing about him was that he always made eye contact with everyone around him and acknowledged them.
On some rare but very precious occasions, I would walk into his lounge and not wanting to take too much of his time, say ‘I just wanted to say Hi to you’.
But he would always ask, how I was doing, where I was travelling, what exactly I did on my travels and offered every bit of advise to me on my current endeavours.
He would always finish the conversation by saying, a thank you for ‘coming in to look me up’.
Needless to say, every bit of advise he offered was more than I could have ever asked for. It’s no wonder then, there were always a sea of people around him. Because every interaction with him was a mentoring exercise for everyone.
He gave so much of himself to this country, this world, his friends and family and everyone around him.
And how this legacy is deeply imbibed in his family, his wife Mrs. Sangeeta Jaitley, his son Rohan and his fiancé Mehar and of course his daughter and son-in-law, Sonali and Jayesh.
Once I had a special opportunity to sit with him for hours. He would every now and then mention so lovingly about his wife, saying that ‘I discussed this with Dolly… ‘ I am sure that he was deeply dependent on their relationship and she indeed was his silent pillar of strength.
In a similar way, he would regularly ask for Sonali and Rohan often through any discussion and ask them to be around him at all times.
His wife, Mrs. Jaitley herself comes from a very strong political background, her father being the finance minister of J&K for over 26 years, she understands this life well but remains the most level headed and warmest person ever. She and her sister, Mrs. Nidhi Sharma have lived through a lot through the political legends in their family (Mr Giridhari Lal Dogra and Mr. Jaitley).
Last Saturday marked a new journey for the family.
I’m sure that the legacy will continue through his family, especially through his wife and children.
But as I say this, I still picture him eating a pizza and giving his opinion about why the home made one is not as good as the one from outside…these memories will never leave us and nor will he.