Sad news from Delhi - the death earlier this week of Mrs Khorshed Italia. She's the mother of a good friend, Shenny. A lovely, warm hearted woman, who had lived for more than seventy years in a top floor flat in CP, Connaught Place, for decades the colonnaded heart of the Indian capital.
Mrs Italia was 88 and the longest standing resident of CP, where the dwindling number of householders are being squeezed out by the pressure for offices and commercial lets. The Italia household was the last Parsee family in CP.
A newspaper article two years ago described Mrs Italia as 'the grand old lady of Connaught Place'. A very apt title. She also features affectionately in Sam Miller's wonderful Delhi: adventures in a megacity.
She once told me how from her balcony she saw the looting of Muslim shops in 1947 and witnessed Jawaharlal Nehru chasing rioters wielding a policeman's 'lathi'. She worked for several months as a medical volunteer, helping refugee women who reached Delhi from the violence-wracked plains of Punjab. I was greatly moved by her modest, unvarnished account of her work, the women she helped, and the injustices she railed against - the interview is available here.
The photograph by Ros Miller dates from 1997 - and below is a charming photo of Mrs Italia when young which I was given by Shenny a few years ago.
She was a lovely woman, so thoughtful about the past, and the terrible events that she witnessed. Do listen to the audio of the interview with her on this website - for a quite extraordinary account of Delhi and Connaught Place during Partition.
Thank you Andy and Sam. She was very fond of both of you which is why she spoke from her heart. You both have immortalized her in such a beautiful way.
she was really a loyal resident of CP.......CP has lost a star of his beauty....before reading this article i was planing to meet her...but this article really really shocked me.....CP will always mrs.khorshed italia..
the longest living and oldest resident of connaught place happens to be our family and my living mother who is 92 years old
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