I met the owner of the Fairlawn, where I am staying. “This is the last of the Raj Hotels,” Ms. Smith said emphatically, “No more.” And she should know, she’s 91 and tells her history to all who come to stay or visit. She is Armenian and begins the history lesson with genocide against the Armenians by the Turks. It’s a survival story ending in the building of an oasis of green and luxury, exactly in the middle of Calcutta. That became the hotel I am in, with its flocks of ceiling fans, dozens of china vases, knic-knacs, straw flowers, and other memorabilia, which must be gifts of guests – judging by the numerous countries represented,
I will add that I first met her this morning as she emerged from her private rooms on the second floor, accompanied by two attendants. “Good morning, how do you like my hotel?” she asked. “I don’t like it, I LOVE it,” I replied, sensing she possessed a sense of humor. “Good,”she said, “Look around and read that bullshit on the walls… that’ll give us something to talk about…” Ms. Smith comes down every morning, exquisitely made up, in a lovey dress and jewelry.