Mrs. Vramori Chatterji
Mrs. Vramori Chatterji was born on October 15, 1936 in Calcutta, India, and left her body on March 1, 2020, surrounded by her children, in her home at Silverado Beach Cities in Redondo Beach, California.
Mrs. Chatterji was the daughter of the late Nirupam and Nilima Banerjee. Her father, Nirupam, was an Inspector-General of the Imperial Police of India, overseeing Bengal and the Northeast territories bordering Burma. Mrs. Chatterji grew up in relative luxury in a grand compound, in British Calcutta, complete with servants, cooks, butlers, maids, valets, chauffeurs and British nannies. However, her mother died of typhoid when Mrs. Chatterji was only 13 months old, which was the first of many tragedies in her life. Then as a young woman, her father lost his job and the family fell into financial ruin. To make ends meet, she moved in with an older sister, worked for several years as a receptionist at the Metal Box Company of India, while moonlighting as a ballroom dance instructor in Calcutta.
It was at the dance studio that she met the love of her life Mr. Amit Kumar Chatterji. Her family however, did not allow them to marry, and instead in 1967, she was betrothed to Dr. Herbert Banerjee, an American of Indian origin, educated at Harvard, and originally from Pennsylvania. A son of a successful lumber baron, who made his fortunes in Canada, Dr. Banerjee became a major shareholder and Director of Sumitomo Metal Industries in Japan. Her new husband whisked her away from Calcutta, back to a life of luxury in Tokyo, Japan. She travelled to over 50 countries with Dr. Banerjee, and hosted dinners and parties for many a dignitary around the world. She learned to speak French, Japanese and Cantonese in addition to her native Bengali, English and Hindi. In 1972, while hosting a dinner in San Francisco, attended by the CEO of Bank of America, diplomats, the Indian Ambassador, and other dignitaries, Dr. Banerjee collapsed of a heart attack and Mrs. Chatterji was left widowed.
Some years after this event, she reconnected with and married the original love of her life, Mr. Amit Kumar Chatterji. They started a new life in Hong Kong, where they had three children and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of expat life in Hong Kong, quickly becoming prominent members of the Indian community. However, after the tumultuous events of Tiananmen Square, the family decided to move to more stable ground in Toronto, Canada.
Mrs. Chatterji enjoyed the peaceful Canadian life, and found ways to survive the harsh winters. She hosted many a colorful family gathering, including marvelous Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of her adopted culture. However, in 2010, Mrs. Chatterji underwent open-heart surgery, for a serious heart condition. It was successful, but left her susceptible to a stroke, which she had less than a year later. Already suffering with heart disease and diabetes, her stroke precipitated a slow decline with Dementia.
In 2015, with her son's help, she immigrated to California, and moved into Silverado Beach Cities, in Redondo Beach California, to be close to him. At Silverado, she received incredible love and care, and the caregivers became her family, looking after her, as her cognitive and physical functioning declined. Her children and grandchildren, however, shared many a tender and loving moment in her final years. She will be remembered for the incredible love in her heart, her exceptional talent for cooking globe-spanning cuisine, her generosity in helping many a family member in their times of difficulty, and for her classy elegance that was known around the world.
She is survived by her son, Vish, her two daughters, Amita and Tuni, and her eight grandchildren, Chetan, Jaya, Dharma, Shonjoy, Akash, Kali, Jahnvi and Jyoti. Her body was cremated on March 4, 2020 at the Pacific Crest Chapel in Redondo Beach. Her ashes will be scattered in the Pacific Ocean off of Redondo Beach, and in the Hooghly River in her native, and favorite city of Kolkata. May her soul find much peace and bliss after such an extraordinary life.
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Published in The Beach Reporter on Mar. 7, 2020.