Tag Archives: children

Daddy Dear …

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Most have stories for their mommies, I do too, but today its about my Pappa, thoughts of him dancing all over me..

He is a person that pushed me always a little more, a little harder…

“No i cannot do it,” i yelled and papa stood below replying “ what rubbish chal chal, you can!”

I stood there all shivering in the Panchgani summer cold in front of the newly discovered crater on the extreme edge of Tableland, the famous plateau. Here I was trembling in fear in the cool breeze but papa never gave up. He made sure that i climbed down that plateau through that half burrow , suspended- in- air -hole. And finally when i did, i saw him smiling, that rare dimpled smile.

My bonding time with him were the Panchgani summer vacations; we had his full attention then. He always took the treacherous and difficult route to climb a hill, always a self made path and never the clean motorway or even, the horse trodden path. My invariable complaints were, “why can’t we go the correct way? The way which everyone takes, why take this dangerous route and i get all bruised?”

Shelu, my elder sister loved these adventures along with all my rough and tough cousins but it was me that shivered in my pants, always. I part grumbled and part moaned that we discovered a new route and as I always trailed behind, it was pappa that kept a close eye on me, and did he keep pushing me..

First time when I was learning how to drive he took me out on a spin and asked me to drive. I began gingerly, at a measly pace of  10km an hour. I inched more than I drove. He whacked me on my hand and said when will you use the fourth gear? Well did that exist in my directory? I said ” how can one use that on Bombay’s narrow roads?”

He replied, unsurprisingly, what rubbish, put on the fourth gear. I did and promptly and drove straight on to a lamp post. He yelled – brakes! brakes! and my heels only found the accelerator. It was a misadventure , mildly put – head lights broken and doors jammed. But papa did not lose his cool. He took over the wheel and drove us back home. Till this day i have not learned the ABC of driving and i prefer to be driven than drive.

Pappa is a self made man – all hardworking and feisty. Short tempered, arrogant and generous. A true Leo who would go to any extremes for his comfort, food and family. A handsome man (think the younger Gene Hackmen) who had won many hearts with many a woman wanted to marry him. I do still come across a few who complain that he never agreed to their proposals and this the same time that I see my mummy feeling proud. A farmers son, he did his mechanical engineering and came to Bombay on the pretext for an interview for a government organization. He told himself that if he worked for somebody he would never grow in this city. So he never turned up for that or any interview and used the conveyance money to fund his (small) stay and began work for himself. First as a mechanic, then a driver and soon collected enough to start his small workshop. In spite of setbacks, he was to never look back and and today is quite a successful businessman. He made sure he gave us the best that he could. Once i called him to inform that i had sought my daughter’s admission into a well reputed (and an expensive school). He asked dryly ” why are you spending so much?” . I said that he taught me to spend more on education that anything else and now it’s my turn to further that tradition. That day, I could see him smiling on the other side of the phone, that rare dimpled smile.

That day after many years he shared one of his secrets with me. He told me that every time he visited my school he felt a shade smaller when he saw the rich dad’s dropping their kids in fancy cars. He told me that he ached inside to be able to drop his girls in a car someday. In time, he made sure that he did. Soon enough, he drove me and my friends around Bombay,

I have always seen him working hard and pushing the boundaries with a never-say-die attitude. He is growing old and still going strong. Yesterday he called me to say that he had sold his factory and will be retiring. I am happy for him – the money and the self achievement is truly his but deep within me , I feel hollow. While he was working, I saw in him as a strong, pushy, confident man, but today I feel saddened. Something , somewhere has changed in me and am deciphering the feeling..

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Govinda Ala re!

sketchpad12Anyone who lived in Bombay in the 80’s would know what festivals were and how important they were. Deafening loudspeakers yelled at each other from different colonies. All those Bollywood numbers on festivals started from dawn till late in the night until all the neighbour’s started complaining about the volume or till Ballu (the local drunkard) was completely sloshed and out after dancing on those numbers!

Those were the times when lovers dedicated songs on loudspeakers and new love blossomed under the name of festivals.

Holi and Govinda (Janamashtmi, Dahi Handi) were my favorites.

The year started with Holi. During Holi, a huge crater would be dug in the concrete of Amchiwadi and Kiran, the taxi driver, would perform Holika Puja! Kiran transformed into a Pujari (priest) on such occasions, after all he belonged to the Brahmin family and when would all the shloka’s (chants) payback, which he had earnestly learned from his Ajoba (grandpa).

I do not remember about the rituals though but I remember, we kids use to sit around the Holika (burning campfire) and watch all the mummies, aunties and Aajjies (grandmas) come with their thali’s (ceremonial plates) and perform their Puja (rituals). The interesting bit about the entire puja were the coins that were hurled into the Holika. We would sit around the circumference of the crater and watch those coins glowing in the flames.

Each one eyeing the loot!

Come morning and we would jump into that crater even before brushing our teeth. By morning all that was left in the crater would be ashes and dark burnt coins and some grey kids! People around us would be all red, pink and violet with the holi colours but we kids would be busy collecting the coins from crater all grey! Finally the big kids would come and pull us out and take their share from the loot …that was Holi for me all grey and smoky. It was only later in college days that it turned colorful and intoxicated!

Govinda (Krsihna’s Birthday) was my favorite and probably everyone’s favorite in Amchiwadi. A lot of days went into practicing, forming the human pyramid to break the Handi (earthen pot filled with buttermilk which is tied at height.)

Now every year the lightweight Raju was the top most boy in the pyramid and had mastered the art of breaking the handi. Each year the handi went higher and higher but the Amchiwadi’s govinda (the participant of the pyramid, they are called govindas after Lord Krishna’s gang of friend’s, who use to steal butter) also never gave up… they too climbed higher and higher… sometimes the height was as high as 30 feet… the Guinness record is 43 feet! The higher the handi the bigger the prize money… each colony had their own team of govindas and each colony had their handi with prize money. All the neighboring colonies would invite other colony govindas to come and accept the challenge to break their handi… who ever broke the handi would walk away with the prize money… now this was not very simple as it sounds… the govindas formed a human pyramid… sometimes going up to six tiers but the catch here is the colony residents… they would all try and stop the govindas to break the handi by hurling water. The small kids used coloured water balloons and their enthusiastic mothers would hurl buckets of water. All hanging from their windows and balconies. Hurling water, shouting and screaming, distracting the govindas.

Amidst the chaos and excitement we have the loud speakers blaring the famous govinda songs from Bollywood. In the late 80’s every Bollywood actor from Amitabh Bachchan to Jackie Shroff had one song to their name and they too have performed the govinda stunt in their movies. In Bollywood every actor has one such song be it a govinda song or ganesh song…. all of them have danced to these numbers….and during these festivals these songs go on a loop on the loud speakers. By the end of the day I am sure everyone knew the lyrics by heart.

Now coming back to Amchiwadi… Each year Raju our master govinda would be the top guy in the pyramid and would always make sure that their team broke at least four or five handis. They all use to look forward as the prize money would help them run their homes for months. Raju was the local barber’s son, the youngest and the smartest. It was only during govinda that the people in Amchiwadi made the barber and his family feel alive. Nobody knew how many days they slept hungry or how many nights their roof leaked but come govinda, the entire Amchiwadi made Raju and his family feel important.

As I lived on the topmost house with a terrace, every year the boys use to come home to tie the handi and made sure they stacked enough water in buckets, pots, mugs and balloons… to distract the other govinda team.

One such year, I remember we decided to tie the handi really high, almost 30 feet! … Why? We had collected more cash for the prize money and we thought we can’t give the money that easy. Result many govindas came, fell, re-tried and fell again… almost all the neighboring colonies came and tried but none of them could make it. Normally by lunch all the handis are broken but it was almost evening and still nobody could break the handi… finally Raju decided that we will break our own handi… they had practiced the pyramid till five tiers but this one needed at least seven… so without practicing they went for seven… result… they all fell… they all came tumbling down like a pack of cards … everyone took utmost care that Raju fell first and was taken good care of… each time they went up, there was pin drop silence… even the loud speakers were shut but they came tumbling down.

Now I was really tired and wanted this madness to end … I was hanging from my terrace waiting for the handi to break so that the loud speakers would stop and I could get back to my studies… the rope from where the handi was tied was right under my nose. I looked at the rope and then at tired Raju .. Raju caught my eye … I smiled and he winked … Raju pleaded to his team for one last try …

And yes they did it.

There was cheering and clapping, the entire Amchiwadi was dancing… the loud speakers were louder than before and there was no end to the rejoicing… it went on till dawn.

I really wanted this madness to stop, I wanted to sleep and wake up for my exams in the morning.Had I known that the party would never end I would have never lowered the rope.


The Good Girl

The Good Girl

“Let me try no… please I think I will fit …please mummy please”, I kept begging with mummy but she refused.

“Aare nai na babba, you take this ‘Naughty Rabbit Dress’…the other one is for Shelu… she will fit and she is my good girl!”, mummy said handing me the light blue dress (with a white bugs bunny embroidered on it with the words ‘Naughty Rabbit’ encircling it.)

I so wanted that ‘Good Girl’ dress. It was a beige and brown sleeveless dress. A happy looking girl embroidered on it with the words good girl printed across a colorful rainbow..

I loved the seven colors in the rainbow and I really really wanted it so bad but it did not fit me. It was loose and big and a perfect fit for my elder sister Shelu.

I kept sulking the entire way back in the taxi… mummy bought ‘The Good Girl’ dress for Shelu with that beautiful colorful rainbow and I got the silly ‘Naughty Rabbit’!

We went home and Shelu really loved the ‘The Good Girl’ dress .. she was beaming with joy (and she literally beams with her deep dimples when she smiles!). When she wore the dress I realized that yes mummy was right… this dress was actually for her Good Girl, Shelu. With her two long plaits, neatly oiled she so very much looked like the happy girl under the vibrant rainbow. It seemed as if it was made for her.

I feel ‘The Good Girl’ effect lasted forever with Shelu, very sincere and honest in whatever she did or said. I have never seen her do any mischief or any harm to anybody. She was always the well behaved and well mannered, it was the Naughty Rabbit who did all the wrong things and all the mischief.

I remember it was me all the time running and jumping but she was the one who use to fall and get stitches. She was the one who use to pray hard and study harder. She was the one to teach me dance moves and I use to win all competitions. She was better in drawing but I got more certificates. She was always better in everything … She indeed was mummy’s ‘The Good Girl’.

I now wonder what if ‘The Good Girl ‘ dress would have fit me?

p.s. My cousin burnt a hole in the ‘Naughty Rabbit’ dress while ironing, even before I put it on, I wore it nevertheless, secretly happy…


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