Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Je t' Aime...PARIS!







PARIS....known to all of us as the city of love...a place for love...having given its status and popularity by well known historians, painters, musicians and of course, the film industry. 

I remember helping my elder daughter, complete a project, as part of her French subject submission. Where she gathered the material for the project, I designed the cover page; a picture of the Eiffel Tower, which I drew and filled it up with tiny beads. I also remember how intrigued I had felt when making the tower. I had wondered often whether I would ever get to see the tower in person; one of the places to visit, on my bucket list. The Louvre', the Nationale Museum, the Disneyland....to name a few!

And lo! A dream I had seen with open eyes, came true (thanks to my husband) in the May of 2017. Reading about Paris, seeing the pictures, videos, or in the movies, is one thing and getting to see it in person, is another thing altogether. 

A sense of disbelief engulfed me when we first entered France, especially when we reached Paris. My first glimpse of the tower, was from the bus, far away, fleeting glimpses of it, between trees, as if it was playing peekaboo! And finally, when the bus stopped and I walked up to this majestic construction, called the Eiffel Tower, I felt swept off my feet with its magnificence. 

We were already told that there would be beeline queues and we were to stay with the group and watch out for muggers/pickpockets. I don't like standing in long queues and the idea of standing in one to see and get to touch a place of my dream, was an idea I repelled at. And yet, the cost we had paid for getting there, the pains taken (by sleeping for a few hours per day, sitting for long hours in the bus, et al) just to see this, pushed me to get into one. 

Our batch was one of the first group of tourists to see the Eiffel that day. There were a lot of people there already, but the crowd was a tiny one, in comparison to the ocean of people that would be there on any other day. Guess we were lucky! 

The majesty of the construction bowled me over! The walk up to the first floor of the tower by stairs, followed by a zooming ride to the top most floor in a matter of minute or two in a lift, left my head reeling. The top floor is encased in toughened glass and steel barriers have been put, beyond which, the tourists are not allowed. Getting to go out on the outer skirting with the wind blowing away, seeing the whole of France far below our feet, the river Seine, flowing silently below, carrying small ships, cruise liners and sail boats...was a breath-taking experience! A memorable day which I will cherish for a long time to come! 

As all tourists do, we struck poses in front of the tower, trying to create optical illusions of holding the peak of the tower with our fingers or holding the base of the tower on the palm of one hand...giggle! Typical tourists we turned out to be! 

Luck favoured us again that day. After viewing most of France, rather Paris, we wished to see Paris at night, with the illumination that it was known for! A bus was arranged to take us on a night tour of Paris. The same places we saw during the day, looked different with the illumination, it seemed like some fairy had swished a magic wand over Paris and everything looked so much like the pages out of a book of fairy tales! 

Our last visit that night was at the Eiffel! It was lit in golden light and looked more spell bounding at night. Each hour after the sun goes down, there is a special illumination given to the tower and what we saw knocked me off my feet!

There was a huge sea of people around the square from where we could behold the Eiffel & yet I was all alone or so it seemed. There were vendors selling key chains, bags, hats, scarves, food trucks selling hot waffles and crepes', ice creams. Kids screaming and laughing and playing a game of chase. A newly wed bride and groom too joined the sea of people. And in the center of the square, was a man playing a soulful number on the violin. But, in the midst of all this, it was just me and the Eiffel and the man serenading a soulful number. Just as I had begun to get swayed into his music, the illumination came on, in the tower. It was so magical and overwhelming! I had no words. The romantic music and the backdrop of the tower, made me wish to do a waltz with my husband. I felt an overflow of love and unknowingly tears welled up. But my husband was lost in the sea of people & soon the music stopped and so did the special illumination on the tower. Snap!! I was back in the real world! 

If I could, that moment would be frozen forever! If wishes were horses....sigh!!! Au Revoir, Paris!



Monday, 12 June 2017

Let them be little!






Dear Parents....please...No exam result is worth throwing a life away. If your child or any child appearing for exam is feeling low or stressed, talk to them proactively...do not wait for the child to come to you.


I had been reading in newspapers, links shared on social networking websites, novels and watching this on t.v serials or movies too, about how children have been/are getting pressurized, suppressed, oppressed, all in the name of education. Also, on how children played with their lives, by either becoming drug addicts, because they wanted to escape from the real world or by ending their lives by consuming something dangerous or harming themselves physically. And when I would read any such article or view it, it would disturb me. I wondered on how parents could do this to the very child who was born from them. A child who had been nurtured by a mother, so lovingly, during the  9 months of her pregnancy and then brought up with so much love and care, till it was time for taking admission in a school. Even there, it was indeed the love which pushed the parent's to make their kids undergo a rigorous study schedule to prepare him/her for the questions which probably could be asked at the interview for admission; as they definitely wanted their child to get admission in that particular school. 


Little did I realize that I too had gone into that rut (unknowingly) myself. Educating my children began when they were babies. Yes!! You read it right! When they were babies! The gizmo/mobile which was hung on their cradles, had animals and birds. And I would call out the names of the animals and birds, as the mobile rotated musically over their heads. Before I realized, when they turned toddlers, they could identify the animals (wild and domestic), birds, fruits, vegetables, colours, shapes, vehicles, the little bric-a-brac with which I had decorated our humble home and by the time they were infants, they were also reciting nursery rhymes, could say ABCD and count 1 to 100. All this was done playfully then. With no pressure whatsoever put on the children and it was no big deal if they forgot anything too! (Though I dare say, they never forgot!). They were even able to identify the countries and continents on the world map. 

I used to play games of mock classrooms, home or the doctor's dispensary, so much, that I don't remember carrying an inconsolable infant or toddler to consult the doc for some ailment or their shots. And the pediatric always complimented them for being well behaved kids and at times he would even gift them with lollipops. And the same was the case when we went for their school admissions too! Admissions were a breeze....we went and the principal playfully questioned them and they answered each one of them with ease and were as comfortable as they would be with a known Uncle or Aunt. :)

Kindergarten and primary school seemed to have swished by and before I realized it, they had reached secondary school. Soon, the pressure of the educational system, peers, family friends, family, began to catch on...and then it seemed that unknowingly we had got in the rat race. 

I love watching animated movies and after my girls were born, I would take them to watch these movies. And at the end of each one, there would be a moral to learn. On reaching home, or en route home, I would remind them about the lesson learnt, so there too, without really wanting to, I had ended up trying to make them realize what they had to learn. 




I have never been an achiever, so there was no expectation that my children should be. But in the process of even teaching them good values, I ended up probably hurting their self esteem, when I would say, "don't behave like that brat! Be like that cousin of your's. See how well behaved and brought up he/she is...." today I realize, on hindsight, that I didn't have to do that. I didn't have to compare them with any Tom, Dick, Harry or Jill, Jane and Judy! They are the way they were meant to be. 

I have never been one of those mom's who would question the teacher for a lost half mark! 😳 I never pushed my children to strive for that A1 grade in school. I was never one of those mom's to put my children in this class and that...I allowed them their space. I let them be and of course, their father too supported me in this. Teaching them was totally my lookout and responsibility. I did wish that my kids learn some art, or show interest in playing an instrument; but, when they were younger, they did not show the inclination and when they did, we were not in a position to put them for those classes, due to the distance involved and the fees too!

And I didn't realize when the competitive bug got me too! Personally, I have never been an ambitious person, nor was I ever a go-getter! But as the years went by and my children climbed the ladder in their scholastic life, their need to get good marks in all exams caught on. I still wasn't the mom asking them to get an A grade and yet sometimes, when one of them couldn't, it would dishearten me and I would preach them on getting good grades to ensure a comfortable future for themselves in the material sense. When my elder child reached her 10th grade, the pressure built up. A huge hype...everyone advising, "don't take your boards easy, It's not! Start studying soon after you finish your 9th. Your CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) score will get affected if you don't get an A1 grade in all subjects and later admissions in the choice of your stream in colleges, will be tough too!" 

Phew! Apart from giving the children the pressure, the pressure began getting to my husband and me too! The days I would be calm, he would get worked up and then the whole house would get involved and there were days when I saw the kids whiling away their time, I would go on "sermonizing" mode. And later, when I lay in bed at night, I would question my own intentions. I would end up sermonizing myself.

My elder child was one of the toppers  in the boards in her school and her name appeared in the list of young achievers in the boards, in the local newspapers and she also was honoured by the Principal of her school & some other social groups. And of course, as a parent, my chest swelled with parental pride. She is a sweet-natured, friendly and a go-getting kind of a person. She is very focused in what she wants to achieve in life and is striving to realize her dream. 

But, 4 years down the line, it was my younger child's turn, to appear for her boards. She has been a happy-go-lucky, child all her life. A very sweet-natured, affectionate, compassionate child, having varied interests in painting, cooking, dressing well...so what should I do, if she is not paying attention to her studies!? Rather, not paying attention to studies is not the word, it is just a lack of interest in scholastic studies. Does that make her a dud? Does it mean that she is an under dog or a failure? Does it mean that she is probably stupid? As a parent, I am proud in the way she is! She is the perfect child in all aspects. Marks on her reports have not mattered much or didn't, till now. But the pressure of her being in the 10th grade had been catching on. In her case, she has been carrying an added baggage of having an elder sister who has always been a topper in school and a first cousin who was just about 2 months younger than she, also topping the school each year. 

And suddenly, the pressure or the enormity of what she is going to be facing shortly, after her boards was hanging like a sword, over our heads. I personally, am least bothered about the percentage she will score, but will society, her teachers, friends, relatives, be as kind or indifferent towards her grade score as our family or me? Such misgivings have been bothering me off late! And though, I know, we will stand by her or both our children, unfailingly, will they be able to face what is coming!? Probably, every parent in my situation is facing this or has faced this at some point of time in their life or other. 

Such kind of thoughts were still bothering me, when I heard the news of a close relative's son, who unable to handle the pressure, underwent a change in personality. A quite, obedient but confident boy, turned into a rebel and a nervous wreck, overnight! So much that during one of his board papers, he blanked out and went into a stoic silence & finally when he did react, he broke down and was crying inconsolably for half an hour & blamed his parents for making him take up a stream against his wishes and pressurizing him to study and get  excellent marks too!

When I heard about this incident, I was very upset. It was then that something in me snapped. It was then that the realization dawned that somewhere (even though subconsciously) I probably was doing the same thing! Were exams worth throwing away the life of a happy child? Were exams the end all of everything in life!? Were exams and the marks or percentage obtained, going to determine the caliber of my otherwise intelligent child? I decided then and there, that I would set my children free from the baggage and pressure of running a rat race. My children did not have to be a professional (Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer...) against their wishes or just because my husband or I wished them to be so! But, today, I just know one thing, that come what may I will stand by my children in every decision they take. 

School exams are a conditioning we have been subjected to and have passed on to our kids too! Does anyone care what you scored in school or college, a few years down the line? What counts is what kind of individual you/your child turned out to be! A ruthless, in compassionate, go-getter!? Or a kind-hearted, loving and good soul (who in the real sense is the winner of life)?

Money here! Gone tomorrow! What will stay is the person you are and how you treated people and made them feel! Inculcating the right values, teaching your children consideration, empathy, compassion and the concept that sharing is indeed caring, are the things which make our children the winners in the walk of life. 

I myself wanted this sometime back, that my girls do well academically and stand on their own feet, earn well, for themselves. But today, I know and believe that the upbringing given to them will automatically make them winners in life. Marks achieved in school or college are just that - marks! When they were created, God wrote what would be their future, so why fret?

 "When God designed the plan of your life, it wasn't dependent on you being perfect! Your mistakes, are not a surprise to Him!!" Guide your kids, teach them the difference between right and wrong, teach them the right values, the rest will follow. Allow them to make mistakes, they will learn from them! You and me certainly did, didn't we? Guide them, be there for them, teach them to identify between right and wrong...there is no need to rush them or make them take up a crash course in growing up. Let them be little!!




Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Ugh! Cockroaches!!




I can't believe that I am actually writing about this creature and what a scare it gives me! Much as I hate (though hate is a strong word and I prefer not to use it, in case of a cockroach, I just can't think of any other word!) Perhaps despicable could be another word apt to describe my feelings for these insects. 

Going back in time, I can recall my first feelings of fear or hatred towards this creature, crept on my 2nd birthday. I was taken to a photo studio, along with my cousin and as the two of us were made to sit on a bench, my eyes suddenly fell on something moving on the floor. It was a big cockroach! My first look at it was that of fascination, the thing seemed to be "walking" on a lot of legs which had pokey hair on them, Long whiskers and huge eyes, which seemed to just look at me and kind of seemed to warn me and say, "watch out!"  Gosh! I just remember being so terrified at seeing this creature.

As time flew, I noticed my fear for this creature had made solid ground on my subconscious mind too! A look at the creepy even at a long distance, would make me scream out of fear. An incident I recall when I may have been 8 or 9 years old; we had some unexpected guests at home and our home used to be sparsely furnished then. My Dad asked me to go and get a mat or chataai (चटाई ) for  the kids to sit on, which had been kept in one of the bedrooms. I was happy to have these unexpected guests visiting us. I knew the exact place where this mat had been kept standing against the wall in the bedroom and unmindful of the fact the room was in pitch darkness, I picked the mat in my hand to take it to the living room. I had barely reached the passage way which led to the living room, that I felt some things creep up my hands and something moving on the frock I was wearing. I didn't need light to know what it could be! The next thing that was heard in my home was heart rending screams. It seemed like I had used up all my lung power to give out such ear shattering screams. My parent's and the guests, all came running towards me to see what had happened. Where the guests were smiling or giggling at my stupidity (believe me, I don't think there is anything stupid if you hate cockroaches the way I do), my dad was irked and mom was confused on whom to attend to. I remember Dad brushing one creepy from my frock and Mom squishing one under her foot (during such times, my mom appears to be a knight in a shining armour for me) and then holding the despicable creature by its whiskers to throw it out. I still shudder when I recall how those 'creepies' were all over me; its a virtual feeling! Ugh!!

Then came a time when I was in school and my best friend then, Binu, who was always up to no good and also knew of my fear for this creature, put a dead cockroach into a match box and gave it to me. I didn't for once suspect that she could have done such a thing, as she knew well how mortally scared I was of this creature. What followed after I opened the match box, is another story altogether. How much I screamed my lungs out, my shock, the jitters on almost holding the 'creepy' and for a long time after this incident, I had not forgiven her for hurting me emotionally so! :)

Then, there was this incident, a few months after I had got engaged to get married. My parent's had decided to get the home painted. We lived in a duplex home with a front yard and back yard, both having small garden patches, where my grand father (from my paternal side) and my parents had grown trees and plants. So rats and mice, along with a freak snake or two, garden lizards/chameleons, birds and insects were a regular feature in the garden and amongst them, at times, one of these 'creepies' too, who would find their way inside the home and so did house lizards. I had a small bedroom cum study room for myself and I made sure it was kept neat and clean at all times. My fear for the 'roaches' turned me into a cleanliness freak. I guess I developed OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) out of my fear for these creepies. I believed that if I kept my room clean and didn't keep food stuff in my room, these creatures wouldn't 'step' into my room. Many a time, the reason for the brawl between my siblings and me, was that they would invade my study table to borrow stuff behind my back or probably litter the room in some way.

My marriage was just a month away and with the painting at home in progress, the whole home was in a mess. The furniture had been pulled into the center of the rooms to allow the painters to paint the walls without obstruction. Since my room was already small, and with the furniture put in the center of the room and the other bric-brac with which I decorated my room, piled on the sole bed in my room, I had no option but to share the bedroom which was designated to my siblings. I don't remember where my brother was when this incident happened. It was just my younger sister (am the oldest child of my parents) and I in their bedroom. My sister and me had plonked ourselves on the beds, which had been placed in the middle of the room and she was telling me some incident that had happened in her college. We were giggling away like sillies and at the same time, I was busy painting my toe nails. She arose after some time to take something from her writing table and I stood up on the bed to put on the ceiling fan. The next thing I knew was that my sister had screamed, "zarlo!" (meaning cockroach in our mother tongue) and without even checking where it was, I had screamed loudly and lost my balance from the bed I was standing on and had landed awkwardly on the floor, with my legs twisted in different directions and my neck in a different direction. I had begun to cry too as I had sprained my neck and one of the legs badly. It was after 12:00 a.m.  Our mom who had gone to bed long ago, hearing our screams and shouts, had come up to check as to which typhoon had hit the room upstairs.

She first pulled us up for creating a chaos at the dead of the night and that our screams would disturb our Dad who was fast asleep and had to leave for office, early next day. Then seeing me cry and sister too, who by now had climbed onto the bed, standing with fear writ on her face, asked us what happened. I was still disoriented and between sobs I told her that Sona (my sis) had spotted a cockroach, but I don't know where it was and hadn't even seen how big or small it was. Suddenly, as if it heard me and wanted to show me that all the screams and drama over it, was not futile, it made it's appearance, from under the bed. It came out hastily as if it had some unfinished business and had to do so, as soon as possible. It's mission was accomplished! When once again, seeing the 'creepy', I began shouting and screaming. And once again, as always, my knight in shining armour, my mom, squished the 'ugly' creature under her foot and picking it by it's whiskers (which sent another screech from me), she went downstairs to throw the dead 'ugly' in the dustbin, grumbling all her way down, as to how I would manage my home after marriage, when a small cockroach (wonder how she can call it small!? for me, it is no less than one of those carnivores dinosaurs or fire throwing dragons) could make me go weak.

Years went by, but my feelings for these despicable creatures  only grew stronger. And with years, came understanding and maturity, along with silliness and other immaturity (at times) too! Slowly, I began seeing a similar nature of the cockroaches to the way humans behaved too! People in close proximity or strangers, some of them give out the similar feeling to me, which I feel for the cockroaches. Though they have never harmed me, there is something about the vibes they give out, which just makes my flesh crawl and I just don't want anything to do with them. I guess I too may be sending such vibes to these people too, who knows!! I am not oblivious to this feeling too, that I too could be an object of disgust and hatred for some if not many! But where I am concerned, ignorance is bliss! :)

Years have gone and I am a wife, and a mother of two adorable daughters. It is said that parent's are role models for their kids and in my case, I think I have been a horrible role model, as I have passed on my fear of the despicable cockroach to both my kids. Squishing baby or small cockroaches or killing them with a repellent, gives me a personal triumph of victory. A battle won over these despicable monsters. And to think of it, my kids used to watch, `Oggy and the cockroaches!`, when they were much younger! In fact, they would giggle away, much to my disgust of even seeing those monsters in an animated version, where they were insufferable too! 

A very recent event which happened a week ago. My elder daughter, who is appearing for her IPCC exams (C.A) to be held in May, sits during the wee hours to study. That particular night, I already had trouble going to sleep and finally I did at 1:30 a,m, and I was woken up with her screams. I literally fell off my bed with fright. My heart was racing wondering if it was a dream or had I really been woken by screams. A look at my bedside, I realized that it was real, because my husband too had woken up. Still groggy and yet with the heart beats playing a staccato, I sat in bed and soon my daughter came running, gasping and shaking, making it look as if a fire throwing dragon had entered her bedroom. Shivering and stammering, she blurted, "Amma, please come, there is a big cockroach in my bedroom. It has climbed on the wall near God's altar. Please!!" I guess, in her state of fear, she forgot she had asked her mom, who had a worse fear of the "monster" in her room, than herself.

I stayed put in my bed. As I was sure, my screams on seeing the "monster" would far exceed her's in decibel's. But her Dad (her knight in shining armour & mine too on many occasions), went to her room, squished an almost dead cockroach (my daughter had generously emptied more than half a can of the repellent, "Red Hit" to kill just one of those despicable "monsters"), picked it by its whiskers & threw it in the dustbin.

After that, peace seemed to settle in, my daughter went back to her studies and husband was back in bed, snoring away to oblivion. But, my sleep had gone for a toss. Just earlier that evening, I had been sitting on the floor of the very room, (where this 'monster" was found), cleaning and organising the larder. And I began to hallucinate. I re-ran the scene of me sitting on the floor and began imagining this 'creepy' walking gleefully behind me, besides me and probably even on me (shudder!). I began to sweat and my fear didn't allow me to sleep, cause, as soon as, I would shut my eyes to sleep, I would imagine what could have happened. Finally, I snuggled close to my husband and holding his arms tightly, I managed to fall asleep. Phew!!

I guess my fear for these 'monsters' will leave the world with me! Wonder why God created them! Grr..rr! And I can almost hear these monsters say, "Wonder why God created a monster like her!!" :)
But I don't care, because, 'Ignorance is Bliss!!' :)









Monday, 27 June 2016

A gem of a friend called Vinod Raman

// Sri //






The year 2014 was an eventful year for my family and me. Having lived in Bahrain for the last 18 years, since my marriage, raising my two girls there, was no less a challenge too! With no elderly experience to guide me, I learnt to run my home and brought up my girls, instilling the values passed on to me by my parents, to them. 

My elder daughter was on the verge of completing her scholastic education. The educational system in Bahrain is not so competitive and we as parents, were concerned and decided to take a call and the girls and me moved base to India. So in the month of March, '16, we arrived in Bombay (it will always be Bombay for me, as from the time I am born I only know it as Bombay, not Mumbai).

The best thing about the move was that my husband Subhash bought a semi furnished home in Mulund, Bombay. I had to add more only to suit my requirements (and that was an ordeal in itself). He stayed with us only for 5 days and returned back to Bahrain and then right from setting up the home, to getting admission in school/college for my girls, fell on me. My husband  Subhash, left the decision taking in my hands, and yet, I kept updating and consulting him, as all these years of our married life, I had never had to take important decisions, since they were all taken by my husband.

I took a decision of getting my elder daughter admitted in the 11th standard, in a junior college which catered to State board and I had a lot of time for that, as the admissions would start only in June for the same. But I had to get my younger daughter (who had passed out from the 7th standard in the CBSE curriculum), admitted in a school catering to that curriculum. 

The academic year was to start from the 1st of April. And we were already at the end of the month. I got an invitation for an Onam dinner at Subhash' friend, Manoj Raman's home. My girls and me were the only outsiders invited; the rest of the invitees were Manoj's immediate family and his siblings with their spouses.  That is where I met Vinod Raman, Manoj's sister's husband, for the first time in my life. How special Vinod would turn out to be in our lives, was revealed to us in a matter of less than a month or so. 

Subhash had put an application in a well known school in a place called Airoli, New Bombay. But that school only admitted children based on a lottery system. There were no admission tests, no donations, no influence which could be used to get a child admitted in that school. Since it was one of the best schools, we did not think of applying in any other school catering to the CBSE curriculum. We had placed all our cards on this one school. 

Days flew, and on the day the lottery was to be drawn, Subhash upon going to school, learned that among-st the names of kids declared, our daughter's name was not there. There were only 5 seats available for the 8th standard and unfortunately she was not the chosen one! He couldn't wait for more days to hunt for other schools or finish any formalities. He requested a friend's wife who knew of a corporator of the Airoli node, to use his influence in getting the admission done. But no luck there too!  I was assured that my daughter would get admission and the school was opening only in the month of June. Though I felt odd about it as other schools catering to the CBSE curriculum were reopening on the 1st of April. 

I kept following up with my husband's friend's wife about the status on the admission front and each time was only getting assurances that it would be done. By then it was already the 10th of April. My instincts told me something was amiss and on impulse one Saturday, I chose to go to the school and check things out for myself. Upon reaching there, I found the school gates closed with only a small gate kept slightly ajar for people/parents like me who came to inquire. 

Upon checking with the watchman, I learnt that the school had already reopened on the 1st of April, like all other schools catering to CBSE. I felt numbed with shock. It felt like someone had poured iced water on my head. I stood in stoic silence, with a volley of thoughts hitting me all at once! School had started on the 1st of April, which meant, my child had missed those many working days of the school's academic year, which meant that I had been kept in the dark about the school's reopening, which meant that now with other schools having reopened too, the chances of my trying for admission in those schools were bleak. I did not know anyone else who could help me out in this. And at that time an ex-classmate of mine happened to call. I told him everything and began crying silently as I was feeling helpless and hopeless too! He asked me to wait where I was and in no time, he came to pick me on his bike, took me out for lunch and dropped me home with a promise that he would try on his end, using the political pull he had. 

But time was running out and I was getting anxious. I couldn't wait any more! That evening, out of sheer desperation and a feeling of having lost some battle, I called up my Mom who is in Pune and broke down to her. Speaking to her was the assurance I needed! She told me, "Mona, don't worry! Keep your faith! Take an idol of the deity you worship and keep Him immersed in water and ask Him to take care of your problems!" 

Like wise, on the 13th of April, '14, I took a metallic idol of my favourite God, Ganpati and kind of told him authoritatively that I would keep Him immersed in water till my child wouldn't get admission. I did not ask Him to get my child's admission done in this school or that. I just told Him, "I now leave this problem to you! You have to make sure that she gets admission in a school, as soon as, possible!" Surrendering my problem to Gannu (I choose to address my Ganpati as Gannu), I went about attending to my household chores. There was no point in worrying. My faith in Gannu is far too strong to allow me the useless waste of time like worrying!

That night, I got a call from Manoj, inviting us to his home for a 'Vishu' Saddhya (an elaborate meal served on banana leaves. the new year as per the Hindu calendar for the people in Kerala. And like the earlier invite, this time along with the immediate siblings with their families, another close friend and family and my girls and me were the only people there. Vinod was also there (obviously), being Manoj's brother-in-law. 

After the customary greetings, as we settled down to our tete-a-tete, the ladies formed a group, the kids went to the inner room and the guys formed a group and yet, each member present there was participating in the conversation of the other group too! The ladies assembled asked me on the status of my child's admission. As I began narrating the series of events to them, little did I realize that my eyes were brimming or that I had an avid listener, in Vinod. 

Dinner was announced and most of the ladies got up to help the hostess get the food prepared out in the living room. And I chose to sit out. Suddenly, without announcement, Vinod pulled a chair close to me and asked me, "Are you willing to get your daughter's admission done in this particular school? I know one of the board members there".  My eyes popped out in disbelief and probably my ears were just waiting to hear this and I replied, "Vinod, today I am a beggar. I am not given a choice of this school or that. I just know that my child has missed out on a lot on the school front and I just want to get her admission done, as soon as, possible. 

Vinod, excusing himself, stepped out on the balcony; I saw him speaking over the phone. Within a few minutes, he came in and approached me, saying that an appointment for her admission test had been fixed for the next day, which was the 15th of April. He was clear in communicating that there was no guarantee that she would get admission, as no influence was being used. She would have to give an admission test and only if she passed that test, she would get admission. Vinod also told me that he would come to pick my daughter and me at 9:30 a.m. the next day, and take us to the school himself. 

Butterflies were flitting, elephants seem to be running a race in my stomach. I was anxious. I just couldn't wait for the 'Sadhya' to get over and come home. I wanted to brush my daughter up on the languages and Math, as I anticipated that those were the subjects that would be given for the test. And time proved that my hunch was right. 

The next day, on the dot of 9:30 a.m., Vinod arrived and we set off for the admission test. All the way to the school, probably guessing the tension I was going through, Vinod made small talk and tried to keep the atmosphere light and yet he also kept receiving calls from his office (it was a working day for him after all!). The time given for the admission test was 11:00 a.m., and we reached there by 10:20 a.m. I asked Vinod to carry on to office and he was getting calls continuosly from his office, so I asked him to carry on and proceed to his office. But he refused. He said he would be with us through the admission and then leave. 

Shloka had to give an admission test in 3 subjects - English, Hindi and Maths. Leaving her at the school's office, Vinod and me went downstairs to wait for the coordinator to call us. 
And as per his word, he waited. He waited till Shloka had finished her admission tests. He waited till the results of the same were declared. (Shloka fared well in the English and Math tests, but she had fared miserably in Hindi. I had to give an undertaking to the school that I would bring her up to the level of the school. And only after that, her admission was confirmed). Vinod still did not go to office. He waited with Shloka in the school office, till I had finished with the formalities of paying the fees for the school and the school bus too!

The admission process was over, but yet, Vinod said, that he would make sure that everything was totally taken care of, drop us to the nearest Auto stand and then proceed to office. After leaving the school campus, Vinod took us to buy the school books, stationery etc...from there, we proceeded to buy her school uniforms. Thus, fully loaded and prepared to start school the next day, Vinod dropped us to the nearest Auto stand, as per his word and left for office. It was close to 2:30 p.m. by then and though I insisted we should have lunch in one of the restaurants close by, he refused to take the offer and after making sure that we had seated ourselves comfortably in the auto, and instructing the auto driver to take us from a particular route, he went his way to his office.

I owe my child's admission to this awesome guy called Vinod Raman! Vinod was my Gannu that day. My Gannu came in the guise of Vinod to help us out. Call it my faith in my Gannu or the good deeds we have done, which came as a pay back to us....but I shall be ever grateful and indebted to this gem of a friend, called Vinod! God bless him and his family abundantly.












 a


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Bappa...my Hero! The man I love the most!!

// Sri //




BAPPA....my Hero! The man I love the most!





To the people from whom I have learnt the most, who care for me the most and whom I care for and love the most and with whom I continue being in love with every single day of my life....you are my world!

Bappa
Amma
Subhash
Sujit
Sona
Ranjit
Sachina
Sakshi, Shloka and Siddhant.


#Foreword: I had written this Memoir by way of dedication for Bappa's Platinum birthday, but call it procrastination or responsibilities, I was unable to finish editing it on time.  I have tried to be accurate in my log of events where Bappa's, educational and professional journey is concerned. Any mistakes on my part to be forgiven. 


CHAPTER 1


His world addresses him as Mr. S. R. Sarma or close friends call him ‘Sarmaji’. Amma calls out to him, by saying, ‘ithey’ (a word in Konkani, spoken out of respect for one’s husband or also an elder), his grand-kids call him, ‘Aabu’. ‘Minno’, Minno – Appa, Minno-Mhantu, Minno-Aabu’, etc...at times he was also called ‘Minnan’ by his Uncle and other relatives too! This man whom I am referring to is none other than my dear father, who my siblings (Sona and Ranjit) and our spouses and me, call Bappa. A self-made, hard-working, organised, principled and honest man. A very simple minded person, without a streak of cunning, having immense faith in the Almighty and very helpful by nature too! I have yet to come across a person like him. I guess he is one of a kind! He is my HERO!


Bappa (Ranganatha) is the 4th child of his Parents, Srinivasa Pai and Kannakkammal Pai, and was born on the 18th of February, 1938, in a village called Parakode, near Adoor in the Kollam (Quilon) district of Kerala. Kollam or Quilon, formerly Desinganadu, is an old seaport and city on the Laccadive or Lakshadweep Sea coast in Kerala, India on Ashtamudi Lake. Kollam has had a strong commercial reputation since the days of the Phoenicians and Romans.

Bappa has 5 other siblings – my eldest aunt, (late) Ratnabai (a name given to her after her marriage) whom we called ‘Akkeeli’, who was married off at a very young age. 

Then my eldest Uncle, (late) Gopalkrishna or whom the elders affectionately addressed as Gopi,  his younger siblings and cousins addressed him as Ollannu, and we kids, specifically my siblings and me, called ‘Hollo Mhantu (eldest Uncle), did his B.SC from the Kerala University and also did his M.A in English Literature from the Benaras University as an external candidate and after working for 3 -4 years as an Assistant Lecturer, got promoted to the post of a Lecturer and then as a Professor in English, in S. N. College (Sri Narayan College), one of the reputed colleges in Kerala.


He is followed by another elder Uncle, Ramnath, whom we address as, ‘Mhantu’, who did his B. Com and also kept giving the CAIIB exams (internal exams conducted by the banks, based on the success of which, an employee gets his promotions), who retired as the G.M of Canara Bank (all India).  

He is followed by Bappa, who did his N. D. Com from the Kerala University, followed by B. A and L.L.B from the Bombay University and retired from a reputed MNC, Voltas, as the head of the Legal Department.

 Bappa was followed by my younger Uncle, (late) Vishwanath, who was a poet and wrote lyrics for Malayalam movie songs or whom we kids addressed as, Vishappappa.

And lastly, Ramchandra or ‘Raghappappa or Raghu-appappa’, who too did his B. Com from the Kerala University, took up employment in Canara Bank and kept giving the CAIIB Exams and eventually took a VRS (Voluntary Retirement) from Canara Bank as a Manager.

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CHAPTER 2


Bappa had a hard life as a child (based on what he has always shared with us) and so he valued the importance of time and education and the value for money too. He and his siblings and a younger aunt and uncle who were around the same age as Bappa, would study sitting around a table with one Kerosene lamp, placed in the centre of a table as there were no street lights or electricity during those days in his village called Parakode and yet, he and his siblings shone in their academics.

Soon after Bappa had finished his 4th standard in school, his Parents shifted from Parakode to the Kollam (those days it was also called Quilon) town, as there was no high school in Parakode at that time. ‘Hollo Mhantu’ had to travel more than 5 kms to attend his high school in Adoor and that too by foot because in those days the bus services/Govt. Transport was unreliable. Due to this reason, their father decided to move base to Kollam town, as by then, he already had 3 sons whose future would have got affected.

Bappa’s father, joined his Brother-in-law in Kollam, as a partner in an wholesale business in grocery. He was a landlord too and owned many paddy fields and also had a part time job as an Anchal (Post) Master in the service of the then State of Travancore. In those days, the postal service in Kerala was called the Anchal service, but was called the Postal service in the rest of India. To mail a letter to any other state in India, postal stamps were used, whereas within the state, Anchal stamps were used. For his services to the Government, Bappa’s father, drew a handsome salary of 10 Travancore Rupees (which was different from the British rupee). Bappa’s father and grandfather were hugely respected. Bappa’s grandfather owned rubber estates, which are still there and have been inherited by his sons.

After their move to Kollam town, Bappa started going to the school and was in the 5th standard, which was then called ‘Preparatory Class’, as children moved from Primary school to Middle school. (The Middle school, comprised of 6th, 7th and 8th standards and High School comprised of 9th, 10th and 11th, where 11th was a stage where children completed their S.S.C and the educational system was 11 + 2 + 2 for completing graduation). After completing a year  (1946) in Kollam, Bappa’s grandfather suggested that Bappa be sent back to Parakode, as his Uncle (who was the same age as Bappa, and who was more of a friend to Bappa than an Uncle), Nand-maam, who was missing him.  Also, because of the Second World War, there was acute shortage of food grains in the country, but in Parakode since Bappa’s grandfather had his own paddy fields, there was no lack of food in the house. The fact remained, that Bappa's father was not in a position to feed so many mouths and so this decision was taken. Bappa was not at all keen to leave his parents and go to his grandfather's home and he had to much against his will. Bappa was in the 6th standard then, and till he completed his S.S.C he had to stay with his grandparents in Parakode, which was till 1953. Bappa had to do a lot of menial jobs during his stay with his grandfather. He was made aware that he was under foster care and this was something he has never forgotten even till date.  And this situation also made him take a decision very early in life that whenever he had children of his own, he would never send them away from him and he would undergo whatever hardships but make sure his children lived under his own roof. 

In fact, when he passed SSC, there were hardly 3 or 4 students from his school who scored 1st class and he was one amongst them. Since 1st class students were in short supply, he could easily get admission at the S. N. College where his eldest brother was already a Lecturer. He did not get any suitable tips in choosing his subjects for the Intermediate course.  Some friends told him that PCB (Physics, Chemistry and Biology) were good and he opted for the same and since he had a 1st Class, he could easily get the subjects he wanted.  In fact, if he wanted, perhaps he could have got admission for MBBS after passing the Inter with 1st Class.  But he did not have any plans for MBBS nor could his father afford to send him for any medical course.  

In fact, he had to discontinue his studies after he passed the Intermediate. His elder brother who was working in a Cashew Import/Export firm (which he joined after his SSC), had at that time passed the Inter exam by appearing as an external candidate from the MP University (he had to go to Bhopal for appearing for the exams).  He wanted to join the College for B.Com, which was a full-time course and so he had to leave the job resulting into some drain in our family income at that time (as his father was jobless) and because of these circumstances, he was asked to discontinue his studies and take up a job, for which purpose, he learned typing which appeared to be pre-requisite those days.  

After learning typing and immediately after his completing 18 years of age, he started working as a Typist in a Cashew Import/Export firm.   Though he joined as a Typist, he started looking after all the procedural aspects of import and export and attending to all documentation such as opening Letters of Credit for import of raw cashew nuts from British and Portuguese East Africa, scrutinising Letters of Credit received from the firm's customers in USA, UK, USSR, GDR etc, maintenance of records connected with purchase and sale contracts, shipments, preparation of all shipping documents such as Sale Invoices, Bills of Exchange and Bills of Lading, liaising with the Bankers, Shipping Agents, Clearing and Forwarding Agents, our own factories for coordinating the shipment schedules and correspondence connected with all such activities.  In fact, the experience he got by working in that firm for a period of over 4 ½ years, was very rewarding and helped him in discharging his duties even several  years later, in the Legal Department of Voltas.

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CHAPTER 3

He started working from 1956 and the following year, he learned that one of the leading Colleges, of his town, namely, Fatima Mata National College (where his brother did his B. Com) had started a course for the National Diploma in Commerce awarded by the All India Council for Technical Education (which even today is the Government body, granting approvals and recognition's to Universities for all kinds of courses).  

The N.D. Com course in Fatima College was a part-time one (which he joined from June 1957) and the Classes were from 5:30 p.m to 9:00 p.m. It was a 3-year course, after which he had to undergo a year of practical training in a Company or Bank, only thereafter he was entitled to get the Diploma – thus you could say that it was a 4-year course.

He completed the course, by working in the Office till 5:00 p.m., then walking out to the College (3 km), attending the classes till 9:00 p.m., and then again walking out from the College to home (about 4 or 5 km) and reaching home not before 10:00 p.m.  He was not eligible to get any paid leave as such, since it was a Proprietary concern and only for the final exam after 3 years in April 1960, he managed to take a month’s leave and that too without pay.  Any way his hard work paid off, as he stood first in the State and 2nd rank on all-India basis.

On completion of his N.D.Com (Diploma in Commerce), at the age of 20, he came to Bombay. A boy straight from a village, when he arrived in Bombay, as in the case of all those at that age coming from a village to a Metro, he was all in awe of the place and also a little gawky too!

His practical training was in Voltas, in Bombay.  He joined Voltas as a typist/clerk. After completing one year’s training (during which period he got a handsome stipend of Rs. 75 per month), he was absorbed by Voltas in its Accounts department, as a clerk for a monthly salary of Rs. 210 (100 basis plus 110 Dearness Allowance).  He was always well turned out and in fact, Voltas considered him in the category of the ‘Well dressed Employee’. Then, he was promoted as an assistant to a person in the Legal Department. Seeing his sincerity and hard working attitude, soon, he was promoted to the position of an officer. This was in October 1961.  


From 1963 till 1969, he was working in the Sales Tax Section of the Accounts department, during which period, apart from the help rendered by him in preparing the Sales Tax Returns, he was also responsible in giving advice to the various Trading and Manufacturing Divisions of the Company, as well as, its Corporate Management in the legal and procedural aspects of sales tax, for which he had to keep abreast with the latest in the sales tax field by reading the relevant High Court and Supreme Court judgements and commentaries and books.  

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CHAPTER 4

He got married to Sunita Sarma nee Baliga, on the 20th of April, 1967. At the time of their marriage, Amma too was working as a typist in a law firm. But she quit her job, after marriage to take up a full time job of running her household and looking after her husband and kids - The Perfect Homemaker! 

Bappa took up a home in Dombivili, in the Thane district of Maharashtra. And on 30th December, '68, I was born, followed by my sister, Sona, who was born on the  31st of March, '72 and my brother, who was born on the 26th of May, '73.

Bappa's work, was well appreciated by the concerned people in Voltas.  In March 1969, for some vacancies as Commercial Executives, he was nominated by his superiors.  At the end of the one day programme, consisting of written tests, group discussions and personal interviews, he was asked by the HR personnel whether he would be interested in a vacancy in the Legal Department, as an Executive, to which he replied that he held only a Diploma in Commerce (equivalent to B.Com) and had not done L. L.B.   So he was told that since had already put in about 6 years in the Sales tax section and was conversant with Mercantile laws, as a student of Commerce, he could appear for a separate written test and interview for the Legal depatment vacancy.   

Though he was hoping he might be selected for a Commercial Executive's post, having regard to his experience at Kollam, he was apprehensive about the job in the Legal department, because he honestly felt that being an L. L.B is a pre-requisite for the job of a Legal Executive.  Anyway, he appeared for the test and interview in the Legal Dept, along with 3 or 4 other candidates.  After a few days, he was pleasantly surprised when he was told that he was selected for the Legal Executive’s post, with the understanding that he would join and complete the LL.B in due course. 

The N.D.Com was recognised as equivalent to B.Com by many Universities in India (but not Maharashtra), with the result many of his classmates who had gone to places like Calcutta and Madras could pursue higher post-Graduate courses, whereas for doing the L.L.B course in Bombay, he had to first get a Degree.

It was then, that he decided that he had to upgrade himself. He did his B.A (Bachelor of Arts, which he got from the Pune University) majoring in Economics, as an external student on the basis of his passing the Intermediate course in 1955) and then joined the KC College in Bombay, to do L.L.B (Latin Legum Baccalaureus or Bachelor of Laws). There was no looking back after that. He slowly moved up the ladder of the hierarchy of Voltas. From an officer, he got promoted to a Legal Manager and by the time he retired from Voltas, he was the head of the Legal Department.

His got his first promotion from Grade V to IV, in 1973 and then the second promotion was in 1975 and third promotion in 1977. In July 1978, he left Voltas and joined Hindustan Lever as its Indirect Taxation Manager, at their head office, in Bombay.  In September, 1980, he was transferred to Calcutta as the Branch Legal Manager.  A decision he had taken when he had been a kid himself, of not sending his children away and keeping them under his  nose, even if he had to face any hardships; was met by him. When he got posted to Calcutta, my maternal grandmom told him to keep me with them and proceed to Calcutta with Amma and my siblings. But he put his foot down (and I will remain indebted to him for this decision of his for my lifetime!) and told my Mom and grand-mom, that come what may, he would not have his children staying with anyone and he was capable of taking good care of them. And he did! He gave us the best even during our stay in Calcutta. Later, after a year, anyway, since he did not like the posting at Calcutta (power load shedding, failure to get admission in a good School for Ranjit and me, lack of job satisfaction and several other reasons), at the suggestion of his ex-boss in Voltas (Patwardhan), he rejoined Voltas in September, 1981.  

In 1982, Patwardhan was appointed, as the Company Secretary, whereupon, Bappa became in-charge of the Legal department, though technically reporting to Patwardhan. In Feb 1984 or so, Patwardhan left the Company, after which Bappa was heading the Legal Department, till 1998 when he retired from the services of the Company. From 1998 till 2008, he was the Legal Advisor to Voltas on a retainer basis, visiting the Office 4 or 5 times (at times even 8 days or just one day) in a month.



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CHAPTER 5

As a husband, he made sure he could give Amma the comforts which were within his limits. In fact, when Sona and Ranjit were born in quick succession and it became difficult for Amma to handle the three of us (I was the brat of the lot), he instructed her to hire the services of one full time maid and one to do the odd jobs at home. He fulfilled all his duties towards his wife and kids. Even recently, when Amma was terribly sick for almost a year and more; it was he who attended to every small need of hers. He gave her a bath, took her to the doctor every day to have her wounds dressed, cooked and was there at every beck and call of hers. Hats off! 

It really took all of us aback to see Bappa in this form too! A man who barely entered the kitchen in the initial years; over a period of years, we saw him first making the morning tea and then after Sona and me had got married, and Amma got sick, Bappa took over to cooking meals too (of course taking instructions of how to go about making that dish, from Amma). My kids vouch that the ‘khichdi’ made by their Aabu is incomparable and not even their own Mom (me) can come close to making ‘khichdi’ the way their Aabu does! :) He is their Hero too!

As a father, though Bappa used to return home late from work, he made sure he was there for us. He taught us how to play carom, so much that, in school when I participated in the carom competition, I stood first. (Till date, it is one of my favourite games). He being a man of principles, inculcated the value of being self-respecting, and being sensitive and compassionate in nature himself, we imbibed those virtues in us too! As all fathers probably do, Bappa was no different in expecting his kids to do well in life and excel in the field chosen. I sincerely was the Black Sheep in this matter or perhaps on hindsight, I feel I probably was Dyslexic! (No puns or jokes or self-pity here!).

Being his first born, I was the apple of his eye and of course, it is but natural that he expected me to live up to his expectations and become something in life. But...I probably proved him wrong in many ways. He used to feel so proud of all his kids and would rave about each of his children’s achievements or talents. Both our parents never differentiated between their children. All of us were treated equally by them. 

I was tutoring 3 Japanese girls in written and spoken English at the age of 16. I used to get Rs. 600/- for tutoring, all of which I used to give to Bappa. But, not known to me, he never used the money I gave him, instead he saved it. I have a passion for music and those days having a two-in-one tape recorder was a big thing. Of the money I had given him, he bought our first two-in-one tape recorder.  And he proudly said that it was bought out of the money I had earned. 

I had a passion to drive cars too! And when I got my driving licence at the age of 18, he was proud and that made me happy too!  One day, when we went on a family trip to Lonavala and I successfully drove the car on the tricky ghats (those days there were no expressways, only tricky hairpin bends and it was a narrow road, with two-way traffic, he himself did not have the daring to drive on the ghats) as it was no mean task to drive the ghats, rubbing shoulders with the rowdy and rash truck drivers and he was on top of the world when I did. He could not stop raving about my driving skills to one and all.

The day Sona graduated and became a doctor, {she is an M.Sc (rank holder) in Physiotherapy from the Bombay University and also has a diploma in Sports Medicine} his chest beamed with fatherly pride. He had tears in his eyes when he saw her walk on the corridors of the hospital with her white doctor's coat. (Probably a dream unrealized, due to shortage of funds when he was of her age!) She has been faculty of many reputed hospitals and though it may make me sound biased - she is the best physiotherapist I know!

Sona got married to a wonderful person with a golden heart, Sujit Kolke, an Industrial Designer, who is working in a MNC called PTC, on the 19th of November, '2000 and they are blessed with an adorable son, Siddhant. 

Then when Ranjit got a first class in his B.Com and got admission for doing his Article-ship for C.A, at Billimoria & Co. (it was tough for anyone to get admission there, as it is one of the most prestigious institutions for doing the Article-ship), Bappa’s chest beamed with pride again, at Ranjit's achievement too! Unfortunately, Ranjit could not complete his C.A, but went on to do a diploma in Financial Management from N. M. I.M.S (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies) and a diploma in computers from Infotech Computers,  Vashi.

Ranjit is currently working in Dubai as a Manager, for a company called Gargash Insurance and is married to a beautiful Nepali girl, Sachina Pradhan, who has been working for the Emirates Airlines and is currently the Airport Services Officer at the Dubai airport.

I hated Maths all my life (thanks to some wicked teachers in my formative years at school) and that subject and my delicate constitution were the cause for my ‘elastic’ graduation. A course which could be completed in 3 years, thanks to this subject, and my frequent illeness, took me 5 years...so the word elastic! But somehow the subject seems to love me, as today, being a tutor myself, most of the students who come to me, come to study Maths and they are excelling in the subject. My own kids are better in Maths, based on what I have taught them and more from what they have learnt in school. 

But, at that time, instead of pulling me down, he kept encouraging me. When I wanted to give up studying as I just could not bring myself to study Maths, he asked me to do a Double Diploma as an Executive Office Assistant at the Davar’s College of Commerce, Banking and Language Studies. So, as against one, I did a double diploma and stood first in two batches, conducted by the institute, to the effect that I was immediately asked to join the institute as faculty, to teach the new students. Again, he could not stop raving on my achievements (for me it meant nothing honestly, as I felt he was raving about me to make me feel good) and then after completion of my graduation, it was he who coaxed me to do my Diploma in Computers too! On his advice (I just was not inclined again), I did a double Diploma and once again, I stood first in my batch and once again I lived up to the faith he had in me!

I always had a delicate constitution (manufacturing defect is how I choose to call it!) and never once did he whine or complain or rebuke me for being so. He, in fact always told me that I should inculcate the habit of retiring to bed early, but again, it is not in my hands, I am a night person! During the day my energy levels are very low and as the sun goes down, my energy levels go up...and so it was that many a time when I fell sick, I would feel, that it is because I don’t obey Bappa and go to bed early. I still idolize the Owl! And now it's my husband's turn to remind me to go to bed early, and I realize why he said what he used to, now, when I have become a mother myself. I am not so principled (yet) as Bappa has been and yet somewhere a small voice in me, probably that kid which is still trapped in me, wants to do something in Bappa’s and my lifetime, to make him feel proud of me in every which way! I can almost visualize Bappa now, when he reads this line...I can see his eyes brimming and I can hear him say, “I am proud of you! I have always been so! Why do feel otherwise!?” It is this very nature of yours, your unconditional love, which makes me love you the most!

He has always been protective towards his wife and children (I know that all parents/spouses are, but he is more so!) and he still continues being so. In spite of the fact that now we, his children have grown up and having kids of our own too! Till recently, whenever he drove the car and if any of us would sit in the navigator's seat besides him,  after taking care of the regular paraphernalia involved before starting on our trip, adjusting the rear view mirror etc...the next thing he would do is reach out to our side and lock the door (his car is not the new generation car, with auto lock) and then he would insist that we put on the seat belts. Only after he was assured that the door was locked well and the seat belts had been put on, he would start the car. And a similar precaution would be taken when he stopped the car too! He would not allow us to unlock or get off the car, until the car engine had died down. 

He gave us the best of what he could manage and more. He made us fall in love with books, which till date are my best friends. He got all 3 children married in the best manner he could, gave the best of clothing, facilities and education that were within his means. I got married to a live wire, Subhash Shenoy who has the knack of making friends even with a pole or a dead pan and is currently working as a G.M in a lighting company in the Kingdom of Bahrain, on the 25th of November, '96 and we are blessed with 2 beautiful girls Sakshi and Shloka. 

His immense faith in the Divine is what he has passed on to me too! I recall an incident that had happened long ago. We had a Fiat car, which was our first car, which he had bought out of his hard earned money and it was dear to him (and me too) and he took excellent care of the car. One day it got stolen. Bappa was distraught. In the evening, when he lit the lamp at the altar, I heard him pray aloud. He demanded to God to give him back his car. Call it his immense faith, in a matter of 3 days, he got a call from a neighbour saying that our car had been spotted by him in some far off place, but that the tyres were missing. His joy knew no bounds and he broke down before the altar and offered his thanks. That day, he proudly related to us and a few close family friends, how God had not let him down and had answered even such a small prayer of his too! 

His helpful, honest and simple nature won him a lot of friends and yet there were some who took advantage of his simple and trusting nature. Cunning and cheating are just not in his dictionary. He has earned his livelihood through hard work, honesty, loyalty and dedication. He has helped many monetarily, given free legal consultations to many and to some, who could afford to pay his fees but cleverly dodged paying him after their work was done. But, for his good deeds, God has blessed him abundantly. 

Bappa, God is continuing blessing you! Do not let your faith falter! I have faith in the Supreme and I know that nothing wrong will ever happen to you. I pray for your good health, your life through. Amen!






Afterword




Bappa, you are my ICON!  You are my HERO! You are the only man I have loved the most and if it is indeed to be believed that there is another birth, then I pray to God to always bless me and send me as your child in each life! Amen!!