Saturday, June 19, 2010

An overdose of saccharine?

Till today, I can never tell what he thinks. He's one of those passive, non-expressive men - stoic, strong and silent. He's also the most intelligent man I know, as well as the most upright. He loves children. And animals. He thinks an experience is worth it only if you learn something from it. He has a weird sense of humour which no one gets, and uses long fancy words - correctly. I love him to pieces. He's my father.

Baba's never told me in words that he disapproves of anything I'm doing. He'll drop subtle hints. Are you sure you want to do that? Will that career option really give you the satisfaction you're looking for? Maybe you should meet some people from some other field and see if they can guide you. Do you really plan to go out of the house wearing that? But if I ask him upfront, "Do you think I'm making the right decision?", I wait till the end of time, and I won't get an answer. And when I go ahead and take decisions that he doesn't approve of, he'll still support me in them.

He never buys anything for himself, just because he feels like it. He can be very stubborn. I just watched him put tape on his old, frayed wallet, because he likes it better than the brand-new one lying in his cupboard. Both his laptop and his phone are about as useful as a floppy disk, but he won't replace them because he's "looking at options". And I mean that very literally - he's going to get the specs of ALL possible options, compare them, and will hopefully come to a decision sometime in the next decade.

I've only ever seen him break down twice - once, when Dadu passed away; the second time, when Thamma passed away. Ask him what he wants for his birthday, and he'll say he'll have to think about it. Gift him the complete DVD set of the LOTR movies, and he'll look at you puzzled, wondering why you spent money on something so unnecessary. But the first chance he gets, he'll pull them out and settle down to watch.

Till a couple of years back, he was an out and out workaholic. As kids we only ever saw him on Sundays, and the family holidays he would make a point of planning and taking us on. It was Mamma who was always there for us, Mamma I related all my day's happenings to, Mamma who I considered my best friend. Recently, that's changed. Three years ago, Baba quit his job with the company he'd been with for 28 years, and decided to do his own thing. Not only has this made him a lot more relaxed and chilled about his work, it also means I've got to spend a lot more time with him since then - especially since he pretty much appointed me as an unpaid secretary in the initial months (I'm an expert at doing travel bookings, don'tcha know?). And since I also stated working around the same time, and started needing/wanting to talk about work-related stuff, he and I have grown a lot closer than we ever were when I was growing up. Which I cannot be thankful enough for.

In terms of personality, I'm like the mother - volatile, hyper, quick-tempered, and not the most reasonable person around. The brother's like Baba - calm, logical, passive, but impossible on the few occasions they lose their cool. Despite this, or maybe because of it really, the brother is Mama's boy through and through, while I'm so much more a Daddy's girl. It's him I now go to when I need to whine about anything, when I need advice about something, or even if it's just to talk about the day's mundane details.

Mother's Day and Father's Day are a huge deal in our home - because I make them that way. The brother goes along with it (mainly because the alternative is listening to me nag), the mother just likes the gifts and the meal out - no cooking for one day. And the father, well, who can tell what he thinks really?

Last year, the brother was in town on his summer vacation. We made this huge plan of going out for lunch on Father's Day. As we entered the mall, we saw a huge banner advertising a Father's Day special fest - for two weeks later. I'd mixed up the dates, so two Sundays later, we again got up early, made him a nice breakfast, and took him out for dinner. He got TWO Father's Days. And yeah, I think he quite enjoyed the extra attention.

Baba and I are both nightbirds. When I was 17, preparing for my Class XII Boards, and applying to colleges in the US, I'd come down to drink a glass of water or get a snack to munch while studying (or pretending to) late at night. I'd peep in on the father, and invariably find him in front of his laptop, having dozed off while working. I'd shake him awake, and make him go to bed. I once asked him what he would do when I went away to college - who would come take off his glasses for him?

Eight years later, I'm still living at home (and probably continue to, till the end of time). I still stay up late, and I still go to peep in on him most night, and find that he's dozed off while reading a book. I still take off his glasses, and switch off the light for him.

A lot of people are going to react to this post by asking why the big fuss about Father's Day; the same argument comes around on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day - why do we need one day in the year to express our love for loved ones, and it's all a bunch of commercialized propaganda anyway. Maybe so, but the fact remains that in getting caught up in the mundaneness of our everyday lives, we tend to forget to tell the people we love that we, well, love them. So three hours from now, I will get up (hopefully), and nag my mother into helping me make omelettes the way Baba likes them. And I will give him the book I ordered from Flipkart because he wanted it. And I will wait for the brother to come back from his silly internship, and then the four of us will go out for dinner. All this to celebrate Father's Day.

Because my Baba may not be someone you ever heard of, but he's the best kind of father any girl could ever ask for. And I really do want to remind him that I love him to pieces.

NB: I also tried introducing the celebration of Daughter's Day into the family - unfortunately, this did not succeed. Much sadness comes.

UPDATE: I decided to submit this post to the Tribute to Dad contest being run by the BlogAdda guys. As part of that contest, I chose a mug from to gift Baba with this text on it:

Monday, June 14, 2010

School days

My rides to office have become very reminiscent of my school days. In school, it was a well-known fact that I never reached the bus stop on time. My poor kid brother would have to tell the bus driver every morning "meri Didi aa rahi hai", as I would come running round the corner (unless the father had agreed to drop me) and board the bus with everyone glaring at me.

My colleague and I share a cab to work these days, since neither of us drives. The cab we've hired drops us to work and goes to pick up kids from a summer camp, and since the driver can't be late for them, we have to leave much earlier than what we're used to as well.

I suspect he's soon going to lose his temper with me. My house is the first stop, and three out of five mornings, I exit from the house, he sees me and starts the engine, and then stops it again because I've had a facepalm moment and gone back in to get something I've forgotten.

Every morning, while I wait to pick up my colleague outside her apartment building, I see this group of security guards looking thoroughly bored while they're briefed for the day by their supervisor. Briefing over, a whole lot of backslapping and waving to each other happens, and then they disperse to take up their positions for the day in the various apartment buildings along that road.

Very, very reminiscent of school days.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Evening conversations

In continuation to this.

The kitchen is the only room in the house the princess is not allowed to enter. Well, OK technically she's not allowed to climb on beds or walk on carpets either, but there's only so much you can discipline her.

Anyway, so last evening, she was as usual sitting just outside the kitchen, looking longingly inside, making a woeful expression as if she'd never been fed in her life (as opposed to one hour back). The mother, who disapproves of the way the brother and I say "kiiiiitcheeeen" very grimly to make her move away, decided to use logic with Kyra:
"Why you do kitchen kitchen? I spend all my time in the kitchen. Trust me, it's not all that exciting once you're in here."
Previous attempts at using logic with the princess:
"We don't watch you when you eat; why do you stare at us when we eat?"
Yeah, she doesn't get logic.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

An apology

Dear Bengalis of the world,

Today, I want to apologise to each and every one of you. Sincerely.

I have always cribbed that in Calcutta, when you ask someone how they are, they not only promptly relate every single ailment they have had in the past year, but also those suffered by their spouse, children, and grandchildren, if any. Being the naak-uchu probashi I am, I tend to make fun of the fact that only in Calcutta will people actually tell you how they are when asked.

I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Bengalis are nothing compared to the people I interact with on a daily basis.

For the past week, I have been surrounded by obangalis (is that the right word for non-Bengalis? anyone?) who have been talking about nothing but their health. Every single ailment they currently have (and for some reason, all of them have a heck of a lot of symptoms) is discussed and analysed in great detail, possible causes and consequences have been debated with great animation (with most of these debates ending on the conviction that every single one of them is in the last stages of a terminal disease), and doctor visits have been analysed with as much intensity as a group of giggling high school girls would discuss a first date. To cut a long story short, I have been spending a lot of time reminding myself why it is wrong to murder a fellow human being.

Forgive me, dear Calcuttans. I am now suitably chastened. And now totally ready to deal with you when I visit in July.