City Hangout – Prime Minister Shastri’s Home, 1, Motilal Nehru Palace
A homage to simple living.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Imagine spotting an earthen chulha (stove) in a modern kitchen, atop a gleaming counter, in the home of a former prime minister.
This is 1, Motilal Nehru Palace where Lal Bahadur Shastri lived as prime minister, and which was later turned into both a memorial and museum, just like Indira Gandhi’s more popular book-filled home some roads away.
Mr Shastri, who was PM from 1964 to 66, embodied good taste in his living arrangements, but with a lingering sense of village life, as the chulha suggests. His bedroom is shockingly austere, and includes a single iron bed. The thin mattress lies covered with white khadi bordered in green. The adjoining bedroom for his wife, Lalita, at least has a large wooden wardrobe and TV.
A handsome set of knives and forks on the fireplace mantle in the dining room was probably marshalled into service when entertaining foreign visitors; while an old white refrigerator in the corner is the sort of domestic item that makes this charming museum so relatable.
Other fascinating items include a vessel for sacred Ganga water, scissors to clip the prime ministerial moustache and a badminton racket enclosed in a case. Also here is a jacket that Jawaharlal Nehru presented to Shastri, who evidently had no warm clothing he could call his own while going on a trip to Kashmir.
The final exhibit is nothing less than a blue Fiat car. Shastri bought it after borrowing ~5,000 from Punjab National Bank. His wife paid it back following his death.
Where Shastri-ji lived