In the heart of Hazratganj, near Lawrence Terrace, is nestled a haven for the old. At the cottages of Dorothy Croswaite or DC home, live eight senior citizens who have found companionship, love and comfort in their new “home”. Since 1939, DC home has served as an old age home for Anglo Indians. “According to the constitution an Anglo Indian is only someone who can prove to have European blood from their father’s side” explains Mr. Lewis, President Dorothy Croswaite. He holds an honorary position at the home which provides services to it’s inmates free of cost.
At the gate stands Miss Barbara Williams in a grey jersey over her blue dress. She wears her mobile phone around her neck with its number pasted at the back, flashing a wide smile she shows you the number saying, “Oh, I tend to forget!” and offers you a seat in her parlor. The cottage is warm and there are photographs of her roommate’s sister and relatives, “My roommate Mrs. Robertson lost her sister this March, and so she moved into my cottage”, says Barbara. Miss Williams was a stenographer and lived at the YWCA, her father was a doctor in the army. “I lived on Canning road in the cantt, I wonder what its called now… I’d like it very much if I could see my old house again, but I read somewhere that the names have all changed!” she says.
Mrs. Robertson is readying herself for the Lamartinere girl’s concert, “We’ve been invited you see, and we’re waiting for the car to pick us up”, explains Mrs. Robertson. Her sister, Ms. Hickey was a matron at Lamartinere girls, the pictures show a luminous smile and a lady standing by a flowering bush, “She loved plants… all these are her’s. She had two lovebirds who fought like mad, we’d have feathers all over the place. I gave them away when she passed away,” says Mrs. Robertson who taught at a school in Lalbagh. She visits her “Punjabi friends” at Lalabagh every now and then. Miss Williams can’t read too well anymore but used to love her Mills and boons, she still has four lying on a desk. “Oh we spend our time watching Bold and Beautiful between 1-3 o’clock, I used to love watching Dynasty… but that’s all over now!” says Mrs. Robertson, with an eye on the gardener as he waters her sister’s precious potted mauve hibiscus.
Peeping from the parlor door is George Günter; he smiles and goes very pink as he introduces one to his elder sister Sheila. “Georgie, is going to the concert today, I can’t go, I hurt my leg”, says Sheila, a little lady with a wide smile and twinkling eyes. She sits knitting herself a multicolored sleeveless jersey, in a big cane chair with her green walker parked faithfully close by her. George sits on the chair next to her, their two room cottage smells of fresh paint, a small shelf has pictures of Jesus Christ and a rosary while a dusty wind chime hangs at the doorway. “Christmas is around the corner! And I told my doctor I want to be walking around by the end of the month and I miss going to church too…” she says. George the smiling optimist adds, “And the doctor also said she’d be running in one month’s time if she eats her medicine!” They are regulars at playing the Times Tambola and Sheila won a perfume bottle last year, “This year I’ll send Georgie so he can win something”! Her brother brings a neatly folded question paper and asks who the new actor in Dhoom 2 is? He ticks Hrithick Roshan after much confabulation with his sister. The brother and sister duo had German parents, “My parents were first cousins and my father waited seven years to marry my mother!” laughs Sheila who constantly touches her short brown hair while talking about the places where she lived. “
George and Sheila spend their evenings flipping between ZEE TV and Sony TV, “we watch all the Hindi serials between 8:30 and 11:30. Kasauti, Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, Kum Kum, ek ladki… all of them! That fellow in Kasauti is so wicked I tell you…” she carries on as George interrupts saying he likes Kum Kum the most and “Mummy likes Kahani Ghar Ghar ki”. He leaves with Mrs. Robertson and Miss Williams for Lamartinere while Sheila talks about how she is prone to crazy cravings, “One day at hospital, I wanted boiled eggs! And I ate boiled eggs all day” she laughs. Evidently in pain because of her leg she is particular about eating her medicine and calcium.
Each inmate at the DC Home looks forward to December, it is during the Christmas season that children from schools such as Lamartinere boys and girls, Loreto, St. Theresa and St. Francis visit the home and celebrate Christmas. “The children bring us little gifts, lunches, jams, cakes… so much! They sing and dance with us, we have games… It’s all a lot of fun, I enjoy myself thoroughly in their company! And it is good that the children learn about old age as well…” feels Myrtle. Sheila misses her walks in and around
The common TV room with particular time slots for each cottage is a favorite part of the home, “Our lives here are busy in their own way” says Miss Williams. Other inmates Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Gnomes and Mr. John Perry spend their hours resting and reading or watching television. Mr. Lewis the President hopes to find a young Anglo Indian to take over charge from him, and a doctor for weekly visits to the home “No one has the time anymore, I understand… Eighty five year old aunty Molly, (Mrs. Molly Daniels) is the treasurer of the home, her entire life revolves around these cottages. My wife and her often drop in during the mornings and spend their day here at the home.” A home for those who don’t have a family member to take care of them or keep them, a place where the old find security and each other for company. A home that provides all 8 shelter and love.