December 18, 2021

All the things that make up my Dad

What makes my Dad tick? What makes him mentally this strong. He stays alone and one could call him a Loner. Once the life of a party, always having friends over, always with the open bar, always with the late nights, always the jet setter, always the humour stays afloat. Days are pretty much routine but never a dull moment. Never a moment of looking back with regrets. Never a moment of feeling lost and depressed. Never a wasted drink over burnt bridges and lost friendships.

My Dad always stays positive. No matter what he has been through. No matter the losses, in business or his personal tragedies, he never dwells on the Past. He has his fair share of both. He dusts himself off quickly enough and tries to remember the greatest lesson that he can carry forward. If anything goes untoward, he just attributes it to destiny and then without even a moments delay, he will try to salvage the situation in the best way possible.  i think this is his greatest strength. As we get older, as each year passes on, past failures seem more of a burden and less of a life lesson. Life lessons have been done with, tried and tested and now only the aching memories lie with us.  My dad has survived quite resiliently through lifes ups and downs only by looking up and moving on swiftly.

My dad remembers the tiniest details. He loves to recount the process in the smaller joys. From train journey bookings to the bus experience. How long did it take. He loves the technicalities. He may look out of the window occasionally and appreciate the view. But that's only for a fleeting moment. What he loves the most is the finer details. The ease in booking, the cost of the ticket, the promptness of the transport, the service of the airline, the meals. He will never remember the turbulence or the bad weather. He will never remark 'oh my god that journey nearly killed us! ...He will instead pronounce the Pilot was excellent, after all he was a senior that probably studied abroad because only that landing could come from someone with that kind of 'international' exposure.

A word he truly loves..'International" Anything that is home grown he pretty much finds flaws with. Thats how he guards himself from disappointment. If a national brand of TV stops working , he will immediately blame the Company and the local hands that have caused it to falter. But just mention European Car or Japanese TV and he is sure to be impressed. He loves to discuss how the country is leading in Creativity or Innovations. He will get nostalgic even and try to recollect how in the good old days he drove a reliable mercedes and it was always such a pleasure. No hiccups. No major repairs. Always the good old dependable service station. Parts are expensive but you cant put a price on luxury. If a local brand is giving trouble. His quick response is to sell it. Just sell the bloody thing. No point in sinking more monies he keeps saying. And we end up doing exactly that.

Days are pretty much set. And yet he is not set in his ways. His 10 km a day walks are mandatory but not necessarily at Joggers. Being fit and staying healthy is a way of life for him. His walks are way of balancing things out. Seldom boredom creeps in and when it does, he just makes that adjustment to the route or the day off. On the way from his daily walk , he will stop for the occasional snack bite vada pao which he just relishes.

He loves watching his first day first shows. Movies excite him. New releases at some nearby theatre will derive the most satisfaction. Theatres are ordinary but he states that tickets are easy to procure, are far cheaper and hates to book in advance which adds that extra bit of pressure. Just the idea of walking in anytime and buying his ticket minus long lines etc is what makes him content.

Early morning (around 11 am) shopping at the Bazaar for good quality vegetables and meats is what he enjoys doing. He sets off to pick up his groceries and if he finds this activity too hot for him inspite of his cap , he looks forward to his afternoon beer before his mandatory midday siesta. Any calls between 2-5 pm are unwarranted and unwelcomed. This is in practice since his working days in the Gulf that have instilled this unforced break and continues this tradition to this day.

Food is his ultimate passion. Any cuisine that has his taste buds tingling he gets very vocal and complimentary about. His favorite response at this point is..'Not Bad. She can cook. She has a good hand.' Even though he is cooking only for a single person, he takes great interest in what is being served. No compromises. No short cuts. Every dish will have a proper recipe with some extra info thrown in. Like this is 'Real Goods' latest offering. Or this is bought from a known fisherwoman so its guaranteed fresh, or the masalas in this are whole not ground. He will remember places in Goa for example, where the meal was outstanding and authentic in taste. He also loves a good breakfast. Its got to be different every day. Dosas, idlis , parathas, are all his favorites. Breakfast in Pattaya have to be his fondest memories of the land. Sausages and eggs for a few dollars makes him fall in love with the place everytime the discussion even goes there. What he does especially enjoy with his breakfast is a good cup of coffee. If Al sends home a Brazilian packet of coffee beans, he will devour the coffee slowly. With an admiration on the aroma, taste and the eventual comparison to his favorite Starbucks. No coffee is as aromatic or as flavorful as Starbucks.

Cricket has a love hate relationship with Dad. And its always the Cricketers fault when the tide turns! T20 made life easier. Shorter matches made it easier for him to pour himself a drink, grab his starters and best adapted to his short attention span. Certain teams could do no wrong like South Africa, Australia. Indian teams have since lost all former glory with him since betting scandals have erupted and he is always the first to pin the losing on some bloke who has thrown the match away. Of course, nowadays even winning is some bet that made the impossible happen! IPL matches are a complete runaway hit with dad who loves the format, the mix of the international players like Gayle, AB de Villiers, Ben Stokes, etc and back-to-back matches that keep him entertained daily.

He has a special connection with Goan cusines. As a result of his several Panjim stays and visits to the Vasco Club de Goa, he feels he has a bit of a say on Goan favorites like the Sorpotel and the beef chilli fry. There are times after a christmas lunch, he will comment on Moms or Rozzlins sorpotel and then compare it with the one he had the previous year. Each year clearly marked which was his favorite !

Religion is not his favorite topic. He is clearly not a devout follower of any one God. My mother was religious. She prayed everyday. We had a mandir at home. He is god fearing but not blinded by faith. Most decision making is done in good faith but not ruled by faith. When theres a festival around the corner , he gets into the mood and does what needs to be done. If its diwali, he will pray on the day. If its Mother Marys feast, he will go to Mount Mary Church. But thats it. No discussions and post mortems on how it went and what the day represents. He always says...Believe in whatever makes you happy. Not like keep quiet and go on with your life, but more like im doing my bit and this makes me happy.

My dads got a real soft corner for kids. He hates raised voices and never finds fault with any kid. He always turns to me and says Sorry its your fault !...No grandkid can be faulted for a tantrum or punished for misbehaviour. He says Kids will be kids. You are the parent, older and wiser, figure it out! He will figure a way to pin the blame back on me when theres a disagreement on something. No kid can be spoilt enough and he finds a way to be Santa every once in a while.

His life purpose is to travel. Never to be restricted by opinions, unpredictable weather, accessibility or language. He will find a way to reach his destination and will also continue to discover the place mostly by foot. He lives his life out even on foreign and strange land. As long as there is no curtailing of freedom through either movement or expression, he loves the idea of travel. This is why most South east asian countries are more attractive to him than any other place. Its easier to get around for a older male travelling alone to find cheaper accommodation, meals and a better lifestyle all packaged in one. Of course, Pattaya is his all time favorite. He looks forward to Christmas and New years since the streets are alive and the skies lit with fireworks. He always books the serviced apartment close to the beachfront and enjoys taking the bus shuttle service to Bangkok when there's shopping to be done.

Past few months have seen him turn to closer shores. Ajmer, Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Guwahati, Sikkim. The first few were to mainly visit temples. These trips he did not particularly enjoy because of the citys state of cleanliness and lack of recreational activities. No parks, malls etc. No alcohol, High levels of Pollution, veg food are many of the things that have been off putting for him.

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