Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma faced many questions, ranging from the ‘Phantom' to politics, from his young visitors.
He was nothing like they expected. He had no crown, no bodyguards by his side and there was no stone-studded throne. Yet there sat the ‘king' with the young visitors at his palace in Pattom.
Around 100 children met, and chatted with, the head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma. The meet was held as part of the summer camp, Mambazhakkalam, organised by the Vyloppili Samsrkithi Bhavan on Saturday.
While waiting for the ‘Thampuran' to arrive, 11-year-old Abijith nudged his friend Niranjan and pointed at the blue Mustang parked in the shed. “That is the king's car, but where is the Phantom?” he whispered.
Before Niranjan could reply, the king's arrival was announced. “Should we ask him?” muttered Abijith even as the children welcomed the ‘king' with folded hands.
Abijith tiptoed to get a good view and was taken aback, seeing the ‘king' in shirt and pants. More awe, when he was told that the dress is 33 years old. Questions poured in from every side — on his interest in literature, experience during the British rule and his childhood memories.
His friends and games
“I was not sent to school and had no friends to play with. Instead, 14 teachers came here to teach me,” said Mr. Varma.
Someone wanted to know the games he played. “They were different from the ones you play. I enjoyed horse riding,” he said.
When asked about his stance towards politics, Mr. Varma said a political party had requested him to join it. “I said I would join if I do not have to hate anyone,” he said.
Life of a ‘dasa'
His simplicity prompted another query. “The king is always a dasa (servant) of Sree Padmanabha. Leading this kind of life is easy enough,” he replied. Another fan wanted to touch the ‘king.' Her wish was granted at once.
Finally Abijith musters courage and ask about the black ‘Phantom,' which was gifted to Mr. Varma recently by a well-wisher.
“The new car does not go with this old man. I travelled in that car on my birthday and returned the car. My favourite car is Mercedes Benz and I have driven 40 lakh miles in it,” he said.