Mission Delhi – Kishni Thadani, Mayfair Gardens
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
At age 102, Kishni Thadani may well be the oldest person in India regularly playing rummy, doing it every afternoon.
At 2 pm every day, she sits down with one of her daughters, and sometimes a friend, to deal with a card game noted for its deceptive complexity.
The Delhi Walla is sitting in her Mayfair Gardens bungalow in south Delhi as the late afternoon sun falls almost apologetically on Ms Thadani — completely absorbed in play. “She loves cards, and played bridge in her younger days,” explains her eldest daughter Moina Ramchandani, herself a grandmother.
Ms Thadani is just a bit too frail to hold cards in her hands so they’re set up for her in a wooden holder. “We play for Mummy,” explains the daughter, “but when friends are around, and money’s involved we’re really very careful.”
Born in Karachi, Ms Thadani has obviously seen huge changes to her life. Her husband died some 15 years ago. The constant in her life is rummy — an easy game to learn but one requiring constant practice to master.
Until last year, Ms Thadani held forth with another longtime tradition: a half-glass of cognac in the evenings. But according to the daughter: “One day, Mummy said ‘what’s this bitter thing you’re giving me?’ and never touched the stuff again.”
Ms Thadani’s other pleasant distraction is lounging on the terrace outside her room but concerned daughters don’t encourage that any longer, especially during windy days. A tree outside leans a little too close to the house.
At 5:30 pm, the game has ended, and the players bid her a very fond farewell — one of them a 90-something friend. The snug bungalow grows quiet. Ms Thadani’s server now gives her some milk and soaked biscuits before she falls asleep.
[This is the 152nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Rummy with mummy