Monday, March 12, 2012

Meeting Mr. & Mrs. Caleb.

It was turning out to be a pleasant holiday in the pristine hills of Himachal.We had already spent 2 days in Dalhousie and were about to leave for a Homestay in Chamba the next day.
Having done most of the touristy things(*grins sheepishly) we decided that we would just explore the place by foot that afternoon.
As we walked through the narrow lanes of the mall road i thought of picking up something for family & friends back home.the local bazaar was abuzz with shops selling himachali shawls,stoles,caps, rugs/mats,...i had already picked most of those...but i could still think of a few friends for whom i hadn't picked anything as yet...!!
I learnt through a local shopkeeper on my stroll with a friend the previous day that there is one Mrs. Caleb who made exotic preserves and jams and were absolute must buys..!!
So there...we knew what we were going to do that evening!!After taking a few directions from some localites we finally reached an old colonial style house.
at the entrance.
Mehboob Villa the solid stone plaque read.
An elderly lady somewhere in her seventies opened the door and i quickly presumed that she must be Mrs.Caleb!She ushered us in and when we told her the purpose of our visit she looked a little disappointed."Oh dear, its almost the end of the season and I'm afraid i haven't any!!"she said in an unmistakable British accent.Not wasting a moment she quickly went in and got a bottle and some spoons."Go ahead taste this one...this one is Rhododendron Jam,"..she said.."the only bottle I'm left with right now!"

It was a bit too sweet for my taste(the kids seemed to like it..!!) but i wouldn't have cared less as i was trying to take in the beauty of this old colonial style home.Mr.Caleb also joined us at this point.I told them that they had a lovely home and that i would love to take a few pictures.They obliged.

bookshelf by the corner.
small potted plants sitting in one corner of their study/library.
old trunks converted into seating!
one more view...

Our conversation seemed easy and effortless.Mrs.Caleb went in & got us some sherbet this time.
The kids too were beginning to get comfortable now..much to my discomfort!(2 boys,a home full of memorabilia at least a century was i supposed to feel.?)I had to do something before they felt too much at home and before their cars crash-landed on one of the many flowering plants kept by the window!!
large windows dotted with flowering plants!!
She must have sensed it...because she quickly rose, went in and came back with 2 old cartons.
"I am meeting a few children this evening through an NGO.They train them in arts and crafts.
These greeting cards can be of some use to them.All we have to do is tear the front part and put it into this carton(pointing to the carton with the 'to be given away' label) & put the rest into the other", she said.
In the hour or two that we spent she attended a few phone calls, spoke to her maid and made countless errands from one room to the other.Her energy was infectious and before we could realise we were all sorting cards into the different cartons!!
Mrs.Caleb suggested a few other labels of jams/preserves in the market which i could still buy.

goodies from the hills!
It was an evening well spent!The purpose of my visit was fulfilled.Much beyond my expectations!!

P.S.As i was sorting the greeting cards i had realised that Mr. Caleb was referred to as Reverend in some of them!!I didn't quite get it then or even had the cheek to ask him.But later when we came back home i searched by his name on the Internet and found that he was the former Bishop of Delhi and had sheltered many Sikhs during the 1984 riots!!I was truly humbled by their gracious, unassuming and casual charm!!



  2. Love it! You actually took me to that house. Love the pics too.

  3. Love the blue... the beautiful balcony and the beautiful plants... !!! Lovely home !!

  4. Dear Brinda Nilesh, Lovely blog post. I hope you don't mind my commenting from out of the blue. I am trying to contact Rev. and Mrs. Caleb and I wondered if you could help me please? My contact is: thank you Benedict Clark

  5. Hi, May I know,frm which shop did you buy these jams from in dal.??

    1. I don't remember the names but there are some shops right on the market square near the bus stand who sell a whole lot of these.u can check out there.