Now this is a blog entry I have thinking of making since a long time. There is so much to write that I don’t know where to begin! To keep this entry within a sensible word limit, let me mention here only very prominent memories, events and behaviours.
Earliest memories of my dad are actually not of dad! They are in fact of his green coloured Bajaj Chetak. Our family’s only means of transportation for a good number of years. A loyal, sturdy mode of getting around Delhi, it served our tiny family of three well for a good number of years. We went everywhere on that scooter-lodhi gardens, the zoo, rail museum, INA market. We even turned up at elaborate weddings of stinking rich relatives, wind blown and slightly dishevelled after a ride on our faithful scooter.
When I got a little older and began going to school, dad’s role as the official driver underwent a change. He was now the official “helper” in the kitchen. He would more often than not be the first person to wake up in the morning and would very enthusiastically participate in the early morning processes of preparing breakfast and tiffin /lunch. He had( and still has) a peculiar habit of waking up early , taking bath and getting all dressed up even if there is a lot of time before he needs to leave for work. You can wake up at 6.00 am and find him all suited-booted, kneading dough in the kitchen! It makes quite a sight!! He loves pitching in in the kitchen- an act my grandfather finds completely incomprehensible. My granddad has never even peeped inside the kitchen so he cant for the life of him figure why his son would be so keen on helping his wife in the cooking in the morning and the evening. Mom and dad would at times get caught in these minor tiffs about the “quality” of the help extended- the dough was too sticky, four onions had been chopped instead of the stipulated one, the kitchen towel was never used, instead every other piece of fabric that wasn’t supposed to be used, was used to wipe hands. Innumerable minor insignificant tiffs that made the mornings oh-so-interesting!
In class seven, mom handed over teaching/supervising learning of Maths to dad. She didn’t like the subject too much and it was not her area of expertise. Studying maths with dad was an adventure. Firstly, studying would happen only on weekends, for obvious reasons. Secondly, the methodology adopted by him to teach was, well, uniquely innovative. He would recline on the bed, take the book in his hand and orally “explain” the subject to me!! If I told him I dint like his methodology he would say “But I always studied maths like this! And I did very well in the subject! The explaining part can be done without a notebook and pencil, beta.” To begin with I couldn’t follow the subject. Doing it orally didn’t make the subject any simpler. I finally decided to ditch dad and crack the subject myself! (Eventually a time did come when dad would teach me maths using a pen and paper and sitting on a desk. But it took a lot of coaxing from my mom to make him change his supposedly foolproof methodology)
Besides loving mental/oral maths, my dad also loved planes. He was an aero-modelling fanatic who would make long distance trips to Hobby Centre in CP to buy aero-modelling kits. Once a new kit was brought home, the world ceased to exist- it was just dad, a set of tools and a whole lot of Balsam wood! Tedious hours would be spent of bent over the bed-turned-workshop constructing the plane. But the real struggle was not the construction. The actual flying of the plane that was the litmus test- a test that dad’s beloved planes didn’t always pass. He would fix a tiny motor on the plane and then spend another couple of weekends to set a radio control for the plane. That done, he would invite all of us for the grand event of the aeroplane taking off on its maiden flight. But invariably one of the following would occur- a) the plane would fly for very short distance b) it would go out of the range of the radio control c) or in the worst condition, a nose dive right after take off which would bring the flight to an abrupt and unfortunate end. The tragic fate of the first flight wouldn’t deter him, he would tell his bored and disinterested audience (Sincerely folks, at age 8 I wasn’t able to appreciate the planes that don’t take off. To me these were boring experiments that didn’t work, and so were not fun!) how he knew exactly what had gone wrong and would fix it ASAP. And so he would go back to his makeshift workshop and get back to work.
Similar experiments were conducted in the field of electronics as well. But I thought those experiments were even more boring. Absolutely nothing happened in them! Dad would sit with his favourite Electronics For You magazine, a bunch of tiny, multicoloured transistors with strange marking on them and his soldering iron and make God knows what! I could never really figured that out. The only thing I liked about electronics was the soldering iron. If you would melt a little metal wire and give the iron a firm shake, the metal would fall on the floor making a small star. That was the coolest part of the electronics obsession , for me at least!!
The other thing I strongly associate with dad are tools. Tool of all kinds, shapes, sizes were a part of his proud collection. He didn’t only collect them, he put them to good use. He could fix anything and that I used to find very impressive 😀 Give him anything broken and he will give it back to you guaranteed to have a few missing screws but in perfect working condition nevertheless. Whatever little fixing I can do, is because of observational learning while watching dad at work.
I have already written over a thousand words and I could write some more but I think I will stop at this point. May be I will come up with part 2 of this post 😛 .I guess I am just missing my dad terribly. Its time he took a break from work and flew back home.