Shashi Tharoor may have checked out of the Taj Mansingh and moved into the naval guest house. But his officer on special duty, Jacob Joseph, is still staying at the five-star hotel. Outlook caught up with him at 97, Lodhi Estate, the house allotted to Tharoor. It’s undergoing extensive renovation. Asked why he was still at the Taj, Joseph had this to offer: “I’m not staying at the hotel. I checked out long ago.” But when told that the receptionist had connected this correspondent to his room earlier in the day, Joseph had this explanation: “Maybe my wife booked some room I have to check on that.”
Joseph, with four others—two ministry officials and two volunteers—are at 97, Lodhi Estate to supervise the renovation. The flooring has to be changed: it will have a woodchip surface. The walls of some rooms have been broken to give the drawing and dining room more space. “The minister does not like the claustrophobic feeling,” explains one of the volunteers. The fence around the house has to be changed. The wiring work, however, has been completed. The total cost will be 55-60 per cent more than the upper limit for renovation, which an official in the urban development ministry puts at Rs 5 lakh for ministerial bungalows and Rs 2 lakh for accommodation provided to MPs.