Birthdays are a time for celebration. And what better way to celebrate my father’s birthday than sharing my memories of him… the first man in my life.
Whenever I see a warm picture of a dad and little girl, it takes me down the memory line and brings tears to my eyes. It brings in to mind the endless paths I have walked holding his hands, the endless times he has carried me on his shoulder while tucking me to sleep..
We have always shared a special bond probably because of the huge age difference between us. He never refused me anything and always provided me everything that I wanted. He is the one who boosted my self-confidence, taught me morals and induced values in me.. I don't know if I can find the right words to describe what he means to me.
My earliest memories of him are of a tall lean figure, always clad in a white full sleeved shirt and a sandalwood thilak on his forehead, who always looked terribly distinguished to my young eyes. Till I turned 4 years, I was staying in my mom's village since she was working there and he working in the town which was some 30 kms away. So he used to visit us during weekends and only thing I could remember from those years is that he brought lots of goodies to eat and took me for walks to the nearby paddy fields. Shortly Amma also got a transfer to a school in the town and that's when I started knowing him more. His routine was to get up early(4 am), take a cold water bath and he will be in his favorite easy chair in the front verandah with the newspaper.
He is always the cool and friendly person and generally never lost his patience. But I was given a good spanking once and I still remember the incident clearly. When I was small, I was very much afraid of darkness. This restricted my free movement after sunset quite a bit as it was not easy for me to reach the switch either(I was just four years then). Suddenly one day I got a brainwave and decided to put on all the lights before it gets dark and promptly went ahead with my project(climbing on chairs, windows n whatever I could to reach the switch). When he saw all the lights on(it was just noon then), he switched it off immediately. But me being the persistent kind repeated the exercise. This ON and OFF went on for sometime and finally he switched off the Mains. So next time when I switched on the lights, nothing happened. I did my investigation and found that the big green magic switch is pointing UP and not down as usual. I climbed the window (It was way too high for a chair) and switched it ON and here he lost his patience and beat me until the sticks were broken into small pieces and my legs were all swollen. That was the first and last time he ever gave me a beating!
When I was in 4th std, amma got transferred to another district and came home only on Sundays. So for the next three years only both of us were at home. Everyday he used to cook rice(that was the only thing he knew to make) and pack my lunch box with rice and curds much before I even got up coz he didn't want to see me struggle..
Every day he would pick me up at school, just to buy me something to eat on the way coz he knew I'll be hungry.. He used to get me chocolates without the knowledge of amma (she used to scold coz I used to make that my main meal n conveniently skip my main meals). And guess what? He does it even now. He is yet to realize that I have grown up!!
He is the one who taught me to ride a bicycle, who showed me how to stay balanced, look forward, and to find the right speed. He did the traditional hold onto the seat and run behind the bicycle. He used to be too worn out at the end but he never expressed that. Finally, when I was doing fine on my own, I felt so brave and happy...I am forever grateful for that life lesson especially coz it was not common for a girl to learn cycling in those days..
I know there were many times where I have taken my own decisions but he has never asked me to change it even though he would have liked me to take a different path..(like taking engineering instead of medicine) I know I have hurt him whenever there were arguments in the family (mostly regarding my marriage which I don't want to) but he has never hurt me back.. I wish I could make him all happy... He really doesn't know how I wish I could.
Now he is getting older. He is loosing his memory slowly and doctors say has a weak pacemaker. In spite of that he is perfectly healthy. I know now it's my turn to take care of him but I'm staying away from home and I'm not able to do as much as I want to do.. He welcomes visitors. He likes to talk to people but often forgets what he asked. There are many a times I have lost my patience repeating the same things again and again. How I wish I had inherited his patience.. He likes travelling and wants to go out and walk through the familiar streets he frequented before. But we make him stay at home coz he had blackout in few occasions and we are not sure whether he can manage alone..
I know he doesn't know what a blog is and will never read this. So I can safely say what I always wanted to tell, but never did.. I love you very much and will always remain your little girl no matter how much I grow up.. I want to thank you for what you are… because that helped me become what I am. I am really sorry for all the unfulfilled dreams that you have about me..
Accha, I'm Wishing you many, many, many more healthy and happy years of life..
Yet another International women's day dawns.. I can see celebrations everywhere.. We are getting so many wishes from everywhere.. We got red roses from the company.. Some malls are giving out special gifts to all women shoppers.. Some company even held a Women's Day exclusive referral scheme to empower women... And the media is checking whether the woman has arrived (were was she before??)
But we are doubtful.. Always woman is revered in text n word,but in deed, she is second class.. Discriminatory treatment towards girl chid still persistents in most places.. Also we can hear never ending stories about domestic violence, eve teasing, sexual harassment,... So for us it's a struggle within - whether to feel proud of being a girl or resent to the fate of belonging to the weaker sex.. Instead of all these noises for just one day, can we hope to get some respect be it in office, home, school, college or any other place? We are not giving the men any fight but only pleading the right to live a life of dignity.. Is that too much to ask for?
PS : This is an impulsive post which is a result of some unpleasant experience that a friend had to face in office from her superior. That was really shocking to all of us. Otherwise I don't have anything against my male counterparts. In fact I have so many nice friends from this community. But a single drop of poison is enough to spoil the entire glass of milk :( Whatever it is, I realise we have a long way to go.. Even today !!
Being a vegetarian some questions that I constantly encounter are "Being a mallu how come you are a vegetarian?" "How do you manage to survive in different places since you travel a lot"
For the first question the only answer is that it's a matter of choice. Second question probably deserves a little more explanation. The longest I have stayed away from home was in Munich, Germany. I somehow managed breakfast and dinner without much trouble(read as survived on cornflakes/fruits/bread/chocolates/nuts or even cooked if I got some good company). However, for lunch, my only option was company canteen. Every time when it was time for lunch, I used to have a funny feeling, similar to the anxiety you feel during exam days - "what's in store? " or "what's my fate today". Anyway I used to gather all my courage n march to the canteen, enter and stare at the menu:
And the feeling that I would get was, "WOW looks really good. Nice rhyming words!!" How am I supposed to select from this?? The only way out used to be to go by "looks". (If some of you are wondering why couldn't I ask the people serving there, the problem was they spoke only German and my German was too pathetic. Many a times I had attempted, but it confused both the parties. Sometimes, some counterparts would be kind enough to tell me what it contained or what I should avoid. But mostly I had to manage myself).
Anyway, coming back to choosing 'food' - I couldn't pick any spicy/complicated looking stuff. So, a safe option used to be Potatoes, potatoes n more potatoes (in all forms - fried , deep fried, boiled , steamed , raw , mashed, salted ). Otherwise, a little bit of vegetables which had a natural look (mostly just boiled) or a piece of bread. And then the most delicious part - the desserts. The dessert collection was really impressive and me being a sweet lover used to indulge royally. But even that wasn't really safe as some of them contained alcohol! Luckily I always managed to take the sweet ones ;) (This also explains why I blow up, unlike others who shrink after an abroad trip)
But while travelling around, finding a suitable place to eat out used to be a problem.. Within Germany I could manage somehow since I could ask for "Pommesfrites" , "Gemüse Burger" or "vegetarisch Pizza". But in non-German speaking areas, it used to be a "probleme". So, in some places we carried our own food. But again, that was not a pleasant option. I remember how we carried lots of bun n fruits to Sicily(Italy) for all the meals and by the fourth day we were feeling sick even at the sight of it. We were longing to get back to Rome to eat something spicy
But yeh not everything has gone smoothly.. I have had my share of bloopers as well. Once I was picking up chocolates for home. And there I saw these nice looking red and black chocolate bars and in went some 10-20 of them. Actually that was expensive as well but I thought it will be some exotic ones(It was). Once I reached back home I tried one and eek it was bitter n had some funny filling too!!! (Can u guess what it was??). All of them promptly found their way to the waste basket :(
Another incident happened in Paris. Since it's a famous tourist spot, we were so confident that we would be able to find McDonalds or at least some English speaking people. So didn't take any precautions(read as didn't carry any food). Alas we couldn't find either. We were at Notre Dame and too hungry. A survey of the place revealed that almost all shops sold something called a Crepe(A famous French dish. can be considered as a variety of Indian Dosa) in different flavors, but they all contained egg. Somehow that trip was too tiring and JK was not keen on exploring for an alternative. His argument was that since I eat cakes n ice creams that contain egg, I could have this as well.
Next one was in the UK. When I landed there I felt really odd. Suddenly I could understand the language and even read the sign boards around me!!! Yeh everything was in English and I knew that language!!!! May be with that confidence, I went and ordered a veg burger combo in McDonalds. They promptly handed over the bag too. As usual I finished off the French fries and started to attack the burgers. One bite, and hey, something was fishy (or meaty).. I took a closer look. The stuffing inside was a white single piece thingy, deep fried, like a hard dried log. Anyway since I was too hungry I didn't bother to question them(and I'm not sure whether it would have made any impacts too) and so removed the filling and ate the bun.(Reason : Fish is considered vegetarian in many places)
And yet another similar incident happened in Leh. During our trip, we were so used to eating momos and so when we stopped at a daba, P went and ordered a plate of momos. He didn't specify what kind, since by default, they used to give us the veg ones. One bite and Pint realised it was pork. Luckily due to my eating style, I hadn't reached the filling..
May be I'll conclude my post with a cooking blooper. This happened some years ago. 4 of us were staying together, out of which me and another girl were vegetarians. We never used to cook non-veg, and rarely if we cooked egg, it was always the other two who managed it. Then, my other veggie friend got a long term onsite assignment and she decided to convert to non-veg. As a first step, she decided to make egg. Unfortunately, that day the other two non-veg friends had gone out and we both clueless females were trying to make an Omelet. Both of us had only seen the cooked form but had no clue how to make it. We knew what all goes in it, but the big question was whether to deep fry, shallow fry or make it like a dosa!!!! Finally we decided to make it shallow fry (Our theory was it looks oily so there should be a little more oil than dosa kinds). And you can imagine how it would have turned out to be !!! When our other roomies returned they were shocked to see our experiment results. They just couldn't imagine how we managed to spoil a simple omelet like this !!!