MEHER & DARA HANSOTIA

Know Your Community features a couple who have been in Kolkata for barely a couple of years but in this short time, they have made an impact on many lives of the Parsi Community here.

Dara and Meher Hansotia moved to Kolkata from Ahmedabad in 2013 and took over the running of the Manekji Rustomji Dharamsalla. Apart from catering to the needs of the travellers and residents there, they perform another very useful service to the community – delivering food (bhonas) to the people who require it. This has brought them in close contact with our small community and here’s looking at their lives before Kolkata got to know them.

Dara is originally from Ahmedabad but studied in Poona at the J. N. Petit High School and then in Mumbai at the B. N. Gamadia Technical High School. At first this technical training took him to jobs with Tata Hydro Thermal Power station in Mumbai for five years and with the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation for over seven years.

Dara’s hobby, and his passion, is cooking and after a few years, he decided to make this his profession. He started supplying tiffins from 2003 and his initial experience in running a dharamsala was at Rajkot for a couple of years. He then worked as the Resident Manager at the Parekh Dharamshala Mumbai Old Age Home for 3 years.

Meher’s early childhood was in Mumbai and studied in the Dunnes Institute there. Though she initially worked as a teacher for eight years in Ahmedabad, Sanjan and Umergam, administration was her forte. She has worked with reputed hotels in Ahmedabad from 1995 to 2002, starting as a supervisor but slowly making her way to the top. In fact, she jokingly recalls how she was known as “Hitler’’ in the hotel industry!

A chance meeting at a friend’s marriage in Mumbai thirty five years ago was “love at first sight” for Dara and Meher. The couple got married in 1980 and have a daughter Kashmira. She is now married and settled in Ahmedabad and the Hansotias miss pampering her and their granddaughter. They, however, have another member of the family who is the centre of their love and affection here, an eight year old white Labrador named Prince.

Dara and Meher are used to working together as well. Before taking over joint charge of the Dharamsala in Kolkata, they jointly ran the J. J. Hospital Nursing Association in Mumbai for five years. While Dara looked after the maintenance and security of the place, Meher undertook the responsibility of the administration and catering, which meant cooking daily for nearly three hundred people.

Unfortunately, Meher has been dogged by ill health since 2001. She has been operated for a malignant tumour in her brain no less than five times. Though the last surgery in 2009 was successful, it damaged her optic nerve and resulted in blindness in the right eye. A fall in 2012 led to a cracked spine which also needed operations to heal. Despite these major setbacks, both Dara and Meher feel blessed for what they have and happy and cheerful about life.

Running a dharamsala this size in Kolkata is a strenuous job, especially during peak season when often all the 16 rooms are booked. The Hansotias divide the work amongst themselves and while Dara supervises the kitchen, Meher handles the administrative work. They are grateful to have a dedicated team of workers which makes their job easier.

Catering to the community is also an onerous task. As their clients are mainly senior citizens, Meher and Dara try their level best to cater to the tastes and demands of all. They also happily supply food for larger community functions such as ghambars and the parsi food bazaar.

Meher’s hobby is to write poetry in Guajarati.
”NA KOI NA ABHAV MA JIVO.
NA KOI NA PRABHAV MA JIVO.
AAYE ZINDAGI TAW TAMARI CHHE.
SARA KARMONA AADHAR JIVO.
MANASHNI, GAVASHNI, KUNASHNI”
The English meaning is:

Do not live competing with lives of others.
Do not live your life influenced by others.
This life is yours to live.
In Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.

Though the Hansotias have no relatives in Kolkata and miss their family, they are truly grateful to the Parsi community here for showering their love and giving them adequate support. Here’s wishing them all the very best in Kolkata!

[Interviewed by Viroo Medhora]


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Know Your Community features a couple who have been in Kolkata for barely a couple of years but in this short time, they have made an impact on many lives of the Parsi Community here.

Dara and Meher Hansotia moved to Kolkata from Ahmedabad in 2013 and took over the running of the Manekji Rustomji Dharamsalla. Apart from catering to the needs of the travellers and residents there, they perform another very useful service to the community – delivering food (bhonas) to the people who require it. This has brought them in close contact with our small community and here’s looking at their lives before Kolkata got to know them.

Dara is originally from Ahmedabad but studied in Poona at the J. N. Petit High School and then in Mumbai at the B. N. Gamadia Technical High School. At first this technical training took him to jobs with Tata Hydro Thermal Power station in Mumbai for five years and with the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation for over seven years.

Dara’s hobby, and his passion, is cooking and after a few years, he decided to make this his profession. He started supplying tiffins from 2003 and his initial experience in running a dharamsala was at Rajkot for a couple of years. He then worked as the Resident Manager at the Parekh Dharamshala Mumbai Old Age Home for 3 years.

Meher’s early childhood was in Mumbai and studied in the Dunnes Institute there. Though she initially worked as a teacher for eight years in Ahmedabad, Sanjan and Umergam, administration was her forte. She has worked with reputed hotels in Ahmedabad from 1995 to 2002, starting as a supervisor but slowly making her way to the top. In fact, she jokingly recalls how she was known as “Hitler’’ in the hotel industry!

A chance meeting at a friend’s marriage in Mumbai thirty five years ago was “love at first sight” for Dara and Meher. The couple got married in 1980 and have a daughter Kashmira. She is now married and settled in Ahmedabad and the Hansotias miss pampering her and their granddaughter. They, however, have another member of the family who is the centre of their love and affection here, an eight year old white Labrador named Prince.

Dara and Meher are used to working together as well. Before taking over joint charge of the Dharamsala in Kolkata, they jointly ran the J. J. Hospital Nursing Association in Mumbai for five years. While Dara looked after the maintenance and security of the place, Meher undertook the responsibility of the administration and catering, which meant cooking daily for nearly three hundred people.

Unfortunately, Meher has been dogged by ill health since 2001. She has been operated for a malignant tumour in her brain no less than five times. Though the last surgery in 2009 was successful, it damaged her optic nerve and resulted in blindness in the right eye. A fall in 2012 led to a cracked spine which also needed operations to heal. Despite these major setbacks, both Dara and Meher feel blessed for what they have and happy and cheerful about life.

Running a dharamsala this size in Kolkata is a strenuous job, especially during peak season when often all the 16 rooms are booked. The Hansotias divide the work amongst themselves and while Dara supervises the kitchen, Meher handles the administrative work. They are grateful to have a dedicated team of workers which makes their job easier.

Catering to the community is also an onerous task. As their clients are mainly senior citizens, Meher and Dara try their level best to cater to the tastes and demands of all. They also happily supply food for larger community functions such as ghambars and the parsi food bazaar.

Meher’s hobby is to write poetry in Guajarati.
”NA KOI NA ABHAV MA JIVO.
NA KOI NA PRABHAV MA JIVO.
AAYE ZINDAGI TAW TAMARI CHHE.
SARA KARMONA AADHAR JIVO.
MANASHNI, GAVASHNI, KUNASHNI”
The English meaning is:

Do not live competing with lives of others.
Do not live your life influenced by others.
This life is yours to live.
In Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds.

Though the Hansotias have no relatives in Kolkata and miss their family, they are truly grateful to the Parsi community here for showering their love and giving them adequate support. Here’s wishing them all the very best in Kolkata!

[Interviewed by Viroo Medhora]


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