The Pianist and I were meeting after ages or shall I say we were catching up after ages. Over a cup of coffee, that neither one of us had, we spoke about the aspirations we had in college and how life had turned out since. It took us back to the good old days when over many omelette sandwiches we had discussed the influence of our respective fathers in our lives; and The Pianist exclaimed, "you are still such a daddy's girl! "
How right is he! My father, has been my biggest inspiration ever since I can remember. In the words of Agatha Lin, he is my hero, chauffeur, listener, financial advisor, life mentor, friend, guardian and simply there when I need a hug, even today. And he plays all these roles so effortlessly, even after a twelve hour working day, that I have now resolved to find his secret potion pot of patience, compassion and energy! I need to steal it to be half of the person he is at less than half his age...
During our growing up years, father used to travel a lot. He used those travels to fuel our dreams, encourage our creative pursuits and introduce us to the world that existed outside the small village township that was home. It was a few days before my tenth or eleventh birthday and he was on one of his business trips, unlikely to be home in time for my special day. I was moping and missing him already when a large packet arrived for me, a first such occurrence. Curious, wide eyed and just a tad excited I opened the package. What I saw inside had me smiling, ear to ear. Only father could have done this; it was a book! He knew my love for reading and had been asking me to read a bit of history. To persuade me further, he had shipped the newly published "Freedom's Daughter: Letters between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru". Such an apt gift that I remember the name, the cover and the experience of reading those letters even today!
Everytime father returned from his visits there was a treasure trove of music that he laid at our feet. Then whether it was Beethoven, Beatles, Beach Boys, Enigma, Kenny Rogers, Mozart or Vangelis; all found a place in his suitcase. Ravi Shankar, Kishore Kumar, Rafi and Lataji already graced parent's LP cabinet. Getting us accustomed to the right sound quality also was a task father undertook with great pleasure and so we had speakers that were the envy of every visitor to the house. In fact mother's talent in, and father's love for music were the reasons that not only were me made to listen to world music, but when we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Sequoia and I were enrolled into Church Organ classes! Bonsai had to learn the recorder instead. Today that early foundation in music has resulted in our appreciation for the incredible art and varied artists.
While I could talk all night about all the interesting experiences father and mother afforded us, there are two opportunities that I think we will always be immensely grateful for. The first, they, never stopped us from exploring any avenue because we were girls. There was never any stereotyping that they indulged in, in any form then be it profession or hobbies. This despite being marwaris! Second, we were shown the beauty of the country that we lived in, all by road. So be it the hills and plains of Uttar Pradesh, the temples and forests of Madhya Pradesh, the desert of Rajasthan or the plateau of the Deccan; up close and personal road journeys were the family holidays undertaken till there was certainty that the girls appreciated and understood the spectrum of Indian culture and heritage. Only then did we go west! Father's love for driving and photography probably transferred to me via osmosis during these memorable trips and continue to be a binding factor between us even today.
"What car do you drive", the Pianist asked. "A Toyota", I replied. "You and a Japanese car! I had you pegged down as a Skoda girl"! Well the Pianist was right again; that is father's choice of car for his precious daughters' safety, but after two Skodas the patriarch decided to give the Japanese a try! And just like the Toyota, we have also found our place under the sun, thanks to our parent's relentless guidance.
Randy Pausch put it so eloquently when he said, "I won the parent lottery. I was born with the winning ticket, a major reason I was able to live out my childhood dreams"; in my case, an Indian marwari girl, they are the reason I am able to dream.