Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My daddy, strongest

My association with my daddy goes back by about 3 decades; 3 decades filled with every conceivable emotion on earth. Of course, the first 3-4 years are shrouded in the mystery of childhood, the rest are clear, etched in my mind for posterity.

My earliest memories are of a very young daddy; incidentally, for some weird reason, I never feel daddy looks old, ever. Even now, I feel he looks the same! “It’s all in his genes,” ma says about his family. Talking of dad’s family, I find them to have a strange mixture of everything. Looks, health, brain, wealth, every damn thing, probably it’s that potent combination that carved my daddy’s personality. Yeah, going back to my memories, I remember daddy taking me on his cycle. He fixed a baby seat for me along with a foot rest. Now, I wonder if he made the foot rest himself coz he’s good at metal carving; I vaguely remember ma talking of some lovely metal carving he presented her, which she misplaced! I was once down with a severe attack of jaundice. Every evening daddy used to ride me on his cycle to the naturopath, who was at least 7-8 km away from home. It was such a lovely ride for me. I knew all the land marks, some bushes, then open grounds with sand, with grass, etc. Daddy used to keep talking, rather would continue to answer my constant prattle. There used to be places where there used to be tones of mosquitoes, he would tell me to close my eyes and mouth. Probably, he took his breaks from my constant chatter!

The next memory is how Naveen (a close cousin and a friend) and I used to fight for pouring water on the chicken’s cut head to ensure that the blood doesn’t clot! Such bloody kids we were! Dad used to cut the chicken so damn skillfully. Soak it in hot water, defeather it, smoke it a little and then rub turmeric over it. Finally, he will make pieces of the right size and cleaned the gizzard so skillfully! We used to be so riveted by that sight. Too bad, I didn't pick up the art:( Then, Naveen and I used to carry them one after the other to the kitchen, where ma or grandma or athai would cook the chicken.

Once, it was time for my little sister’s birth, ma was in the hospital, I was left at my Grandparents’ place, which I loathed royally. I hated being there. Daddy couldn’t see the tears in my eyes and took me home and comforted me. I remember that night very clearly because I knew daddy didn’t sleep that night, I could see his cigarette light the entire night. Now, I know why he didn’t sleep that night; ma delivered my sister that night all alone, and dad just couldn’t forgive himself for leaving ma alone, neither could he see tears in his little daughter’s eyes. Maybe, that’s why he fell so completely in love with the little one who was born on that night, the little brat, Christina Priya Dhanuja! Boy, she had loads of hair on her head. It's her in the snap with mom and dad.

One day, my sister threatened to run away from home, she was just 5 at that time! She started walking only to return in a couple of minutes. Dad was waiting for her and suddenly she jumped screaming, aiyo paamabu! It was a little viper! Daddy deftly caught it and killed that little devil!

Then, came our trips across the country. Since dad worked for the railways, train travel was free! Every year, ma would plan the trip and dad would write the pass and take us to Bangalore, Mysore, Salem, Kerala, Bombay, Delhi, etc…

Our church skits…dad used to make those lovely angel wings, our models, and even design our clothes! I remember once I was dancing on the stage, and I saw one figure in the audience sitting very far from the stage and enjoying so thoroughly. It was my daddy, I still can’t verbalize how happy and protected I felt at that moment. I remember palm his hands transformed some plain looking coconut sheaves into snake pits, snakes jumping out from a basket...actually, our grandfather was much better at it, making all types of mats, fans, dolls, etc...
Then, there used be a huge sapotta tree in our house. The fruits used to be the size of an apple! Am not exaggerating! We used to have so much fun plucking those fruits. Dad would organize the whole thing…the bed sheets, the people to climb (all the kids in the neighborhood, including my sister), and then arranging the fruits in the manner in which they would ripen perfectly. There used be honey combs on trees sometimes, and dad used to so neatly collect the honey for us. There used to be these coconut-plucking sessions he would organize with some professional climbers. Lovely times they were…

Then, came the idea of getting me a cycle. Daddy said, you learn to ride the cycle, I’ll get it for you. I said I knew; it was one of the best white lies I ever said! Of course, dad forgot my lies and taught me to ride the cycle.

My sister used to be sick when she was young, and so on some days he will take her to the doctor. The route used be through my school, and I would spot them riding away. Once my sister turned and started squealing for joy coz she saw me, I also screamed for joy and all three of us waved to each other…This whole blog will not be enough to write all the memories I have about daddy’s histrionics. However, I have written all that I could…

At work, dad rose from a very low rank. Today, he’s a Senior Section Officer. It fills me with so much pride to be his daughter. Dad, is completely a self-made person. He built our lovely house. While he was building the house, he caught a funny accent, the accent of the construction workers. Now wonder they adored him:)
My daddy is a daring individual, a master craftsman, a great actor, singer, whistler (I mean he whistles so beautifully), and a sweet person at heart. It's so strange to see someone, who's seen so much life, to be so excited and happy about life. He's one person who's taught us, his daughters, to appreciate the beauty of life and be happy in any situation. Every day, we learn so much from him.
Recently, he fell very seriously ill. But, God stood by daddy through the entire ordeal, yes, by daddy, who stands by us always.

I love my daddy

Periya ammu

(Actually, I am ‘only’ ammu, but with the birth of the little one, the focus shifted to ‘chinna’ ammu, and I became periya ammu, at least for daddy, heee…)
Ps: You can see more of 'our' memories in Christina's blog at

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Schindler's List

“It’s a very moving movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I even copied it on to my system,” declared one of my friends about The Schindler’s List. So, I decided that it’s time I saw it. This Oct 2, 2007, I watched it finally after several years of its makingJ Just thought I should share something about what I felt about this movie and the questions it raised in my mind about human sentiments, the universality of life, pain, man’s thirst for blood shed and violence, the arrogant ideas of hierarchy of class and caste, genocide, etc…

The photography is undeniably great, even for someone like me, who’s completely illiterate about the role visuals play in a movie. The entire movie, except a couple of scenes, is shot in black and white. But, not even once did I feel the need for ‘color.’ I wonder if it was the movie or the visuals that makes the audience fluidly slip into the movie and remain right inside this poignant replay of the utter chaos and break down of human values.

The movie starts with a family of Jews observing the Sabbath…then, suddenly, you see hordes of Jews being treated so mercilessly—they are told to ‘register’ themselves and move to bigger cities. Everyone, including the elderly and the children, are supposed to register. The pain of being pulled out of your homeland and to resettle and be treated like a pack of dogs is so beautifully expressed in the movie. Slowly, the situation changes from bad to worse as Jews are pulled out of their homes and things are flung from roof tops, much to the glee of their German neighbors. Holding their heads in shame and unable to grapple with the threat to life, the Jewish families run out with whatever they could take with them and pack their large suitcases. Their suitcases are conveniently confiscated by the German authorities before the Jewish families are herded into trains taking them to their certain death.

Just as when you think God, has all hell broken loose? Can’t there be a solution? We see Oskar Schindler, a multimillioner and a womanizer entering the fray. The rest of the movie is about how Oskar saves ‘his’ Jews from certain death. He comes up with one excuse or the other to save the life over 1100 Jews. The fine play of emotions and the terse dialogues keep you glued to the movie. The number of Jews that Schindler saved might be just a fraction of the 6 million Jews who were exterminated in the Holocaust. However, this act stands testimony to the power of love in the face of certain death.

It left me wondering about why this whole genocide was committed? Was it because of the ethnic superiority that Hitler poisoned his people about? What happened to the conscience of the German people? Even if the Jews milked the land of all its wealth, did they deserve this? Men, women, children…all treated alike. All gassed and burnt! This was not revenge, it was something else. Why did they harbor so much anger and jealousy about these people that they systematically annihilated them? Have the times changed now? Are things like Gujarat and Iraq a replay of the Holocaust played out in bits and pieces? Can the situation change? If we are in a situation as Oskar Schindler, would we throw stones and spit at our neighbors or stand up for them?

Do let me know, what you think…we can discuss.

Destination Sikkim - Till we meet again

On the third day, we went to the Sikkim Himalayan Zoo. It was day of little rain and much mist. The walk into the zoo was surreal because o...