He enters the main gate, watches a couple of dogs relaxing on the lawns besides the entrance; his eyes sparkle looking at them and he gracefully remarks, “It’s so generous of you to share your garden with these wonderful stray pets”. We inform him they aren’t our pets, we just let them be! He says it still is considerate to let them be around and he then switches over to praising the garden, noticing its minutest details, the pigeon-feeder (chabutara), the house, the antiquity of it etc. His eye for detail, keen sense of appreciation for any form of creative expression, generous love and selfless care for animals including stray dogs is something I shall always remember every time I recall his visit.

You might be wondering how he came to our house?

Well – I have always admired and followed his stunning, internationally acclaimed works. Have always been a fan of his projects promoting cross-cultural heritage and fascinating spaces at T2, Mumbai etc. And so when my Uncle spoke about his proximity to Mr. Sethi and introduced me to a common friend I was overjoyed. I lost no time in connecting the dots and invited him to come over to our house for a homemade Gujarati Thaali on his next visit to the Ahmedabad.

When he met the family, he made sure to greet my parents-in-law traditionally, even asked his son to touch their feet. Another incident which made me do a double take. I now wonder how deeply rooted his Indian values and beliefs are; as he has resided for years in foreign shores, he is more than successful to influence flocks of diverse fields, he is also a futurist with intrinsic ability to foresee and plan for coming era but at the core he is desi at heart and devoted to the morals he has been brought up with. Someone has truly said – “Small everyday acts define a person.”

I was quite enthused with the number of outstanding national and international awards including the Padma Bhushan conferred upon him for his excellent contribution in design and architecture, scenography, path-breaking exhibitions, soulful films and documentaries and so on. Even at 65, his vision is still young and energetic and his acts benevolent to open new, ultra-modern gateways for this world to admire and enjoy.

In spite of his swanky portfolio, unmatchable talent and lucid success, when you meet him, you actually cannot make out the greatness of this man for he is extremely humble and grounded to earth. His soft nature, compassionate attitude and empathetic behavior will pull you like a gravitational force. We spent a couple of hours and all the while his concentration was on us. His undivided attention made our evening – touching and inspiring.

Although it was a short meet, we got the drift – “You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape his down to earth persona.”

Our sweet encounter with him struck thousand positive thoughts about his renowned achievements but one noble thought which rode above these thousand thoughts was his generosity and humane nature is surely worth emulating.

Thank you Mr. Sethi for letting us become a part of your close knit circle.