The NRI who bid for Gandhi memorabilia – and lost


New York : He was only 10 when he garlanded Mahatma Gandhi in Assam. More than six decades later, Canada-based Himadri Shekhar Roy hasn’t forgotten that fleeting moment and was one of those who last week bid for Gandhi’s possessions.

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An engineer and real estate businessman now living in Montreal, Roy drove here to participate in the auction of Gandhi’s belongings and bid passionately till liquor baron Vijay Mallya outbid him. With tears in his eyes, the disappointed 72-year-old looked at Gandhi’s possessions, happy only in the knowledge that another Indian had bought it and the Mahatma’s possessions would be back where they truly belonged.

Roy told IANS: “When I read about the auction I just had to go and was determined to bid till the very end. Although Mallya beat us, I am happy I went to New York and did my bit to retrieve Gandhi’s possessions. My memory of him when I met him as a child is still fresh in my mind.”

Gandhi’s steel-rimmed spectacles, a pair of sandals, a Zenith pocket watch, an eating bowl and a plate were put under the hammer by Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York Thursday despite an outcry by Indians, mounting Indian government pressure and even a reported change of heart on the part of the US owner James Otis.

But liquor and airline baron Mallya, who was among 40 registered bidders, including several Indian Americans, was ready and bid a whopping $1.8 million to get the memorabilia.

Himadri had been in the news earlier when he became the youngest person to attempt to swim the English Channel. He was feted by Mihir Sen, who had swum the channel.