Category Archives: Childhood

Father-Son bonding

As a kid I used to like things that could fly. Example superman, batman, spider-man, aeroplane etc. I would throw all the things that I got in hand, up in the air *just* to see whether those would fly or not.

Dear Toastmasters, guests, how many of you liked as a kid the things that could fly? Raise your… whole body from the ground.

I am not going to talk about flying. I am going to talk about the bond that I shared with my father at the age when flying fascinated me.

First, I have to tell you the truth.
My father and I shared nothing in common. NOTHING! For example.
He liked our cat. But I liked flying cat.
He liked my little brother. But I liked flying little brother.
He liked my mother. But I liked flying mother (Though she was too heavy to lift for my size).

Though we shared nothing in common, still I liked my dad very much. I wouldn’t spend even a minute away from him.
At a time like that, I happened to go to school for the first time ever, for LKG. My dad took me to the school. Dropped me there.
“Dad, are you selling me?” I asked.
“No son. This is school. This is where you will develop your knowledge. School helps you get a good name in the future.”
“Ok”.

I would start going up stairs. I would put my leg on the first step, turn around, and say, appa ta ta.
“Ta ta son”.
Then I would put my leg on the 2nd step, turn around, and say appa ta ta.
“Ta ta son”
Then I would put my leg on the 3rd step, turn around, and say appa ta ta.
My teacher would tell, if you tell, “appa ta ta” at each step, then by the time you reach the last step, you yourself would be old enough and be an appa. GO SOON!

With tears all overs my face, I entered the classroom for the first time.

My friends would bully me. They would say, “Hey Appa ta ta, come here. Appa ta ta, open your book”.
That surprised me. Because what my dad told that morning came true within an hour. Yes, this is school. And this helps me get a “good name”. Moreover, I got good name even before I developed my knowledge

Everyday, my father would walk up to the school to drop me and pick me up.

Transportation was little difficult 20 years ago:
My father didn’t have a car.
He didn’t have a bike.
He didn’t have enough money to afford a taxi.
What he did have was, his legs.
And what I did have was, his shoulders.

He would carry me on his shoulders wherever we went.

Hey dad, do more exercises for shoulders.

Hey dad, do more exercises for shoulders.

One day, we all went to the movies and after it was over, we were walking back home. Sorry, my dad, my mom, and my little brother were walking. And I was showing directions to my dad from his shoulders. “Go straight. Walk for 200 metres. Take the first left. Stop by the lollipop shop that’s on the left. The guy on your shoulders needs one.”

At some point, he got tired and let me down and asked me to walk.
If there was something that I hated more than walking, that was walking without a lollipop. I walked. I walked with grudge in my heart. “You let me walk, right? See. When I become old, “I will not buy you even one lollipop”.

After reaching home, I decided to stage a drama. It was dinner time and my mom called me to have dinner.
I went, took the plate in my hand, and then the next second, I enjoyed the scene of flying plate.
At that time, my brother started shouting, “why on earth did you throw my plate?”
My father looked at me angrily, “why are you doing this?”
I said, “Let’s go back to the place where you dropped me down and carry me back home from there.”
“Ok. Eat dinner. Then let’s go”.
*I looked at his plate and looked up.*
*I looked at his plate and looked up again*
“Ok ok. Let’s go,” he said.
“Wait wait. Not like this. Wear the same shirt that you wore that time”.

He did. And carried me back home from the place where he left.

Like this, I was very close to my father at my very young age. But as years passed, the gap between us started widening too. Nowadays, all we discuss when we are together is silence.

I grew up. I completed high school. I completed college. And after so many years, I said “appa ta ta” again to my dad. That felt good. That was right after the job interview and when I got placed in a Tata company. I phoned him and said, “Appa, Tata”.

I moved away from my home town for my job. But I was still working within India. I worked for couple of years.
And 3 years ago, I got a chance to move to the Netherlands from India. I was little sad that I had to move miles away from my father. When I told him about it, he said, “Wow! Nice! After all, I like flying son.”

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Get rid of fear with help from Lord Muruga

This is a true story that happened in my childhood. I was born and brought up in a house named ‘Om Muruga Illam’. My grandfather was a devotee of Lord Muruga. My father’s name is Shanmugam. Like this, there were so many ‘Murugan’ facts at our home. But it’s really a shame that my dad, uncles, grandfather – Nobody had 2 wives.

Om Muruga

Om Muruga

When I was 8 years old, I used to be a kid who would freak out even if the door bell rang. Of course, everyone in my family would’ve freaked out had the door bell rung, because there was no doorbell at our home.

But really I was afraid of everything. My grandfather came up with a solution for my phobia. He told me, “Don’t be afraid of anything. Whenever you’re afraid, just say ‘Am um om im em nam, saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha’. No ghost or devil will come near you. Lord Muruga will take care of everything, ok?”

“Ak ek ik uk ok.”

“What? Are you kidding me?”

“As us os is yes.”

“Murugan is a powerful god, da. Trust me da.”

“!!!!!!”

“Trust me da. He even has our national bird on his side.”

“Ok, I trust you, ayya (ayya means grandfather). Can you tell the mantra once again?”

“Here it goes like this – Am um om im em nam saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha.”

“Ok, let me try. Am um om im eminem Arya bhavan namaha.”

“Dei dei dei. Why don’t you also order 3 masala dosas and uthappam? Listen carefully da. It’s am um om im em nam saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha.”

“Ayya, it sounds like a tongue twister. I think that dealing with ghosts and devils would be a lot easier than saying this mantra.”

“Try out. Lord Muruga is with you.”

“Ayya, would you try out a new pant when someone is with you?”

“No”

“Then how can you expect me to try a mantra out when someone is with me?!”

“You are confusing me.”

“Who? Me? You’re the one who confused me by saying mm mmm mmmm and more mmmms.”

“I’m writing the mantra in this paper for you. Try to memorize later. Before its expiry date.”

I took the anti-ghost paper device in my hand and started reading what was written on it. Halfway through the mantra, looking at my grandfather’s handwriting, I wondered why he didn’t become a doctor.

Somehow I managed to memorize the whole mantra. This is how I memorized the mantra – As I said each word, I imagined the ghost saying something back to me.

Me: Am im em
Ghost: Amma imma emma (in a crying voice)
Me: Um
Ghost: Umma
Me: Chee chee. No umma to me. Get lost, ghost!!

After memorizing the complete mantra, I wanted to apply that somewhere because I didn’t want to run into a ghost only to find out that ghosts are deaf.

So I decided to try the mantra on a stray dog. At that age, I was very afraid of stray dogs. I thought that if I used the mantra on a dog, it would wag its tail and become friends with me and share food.

I stepped out of ‘Om Muruga Illam’ and waited for 5 minutes for a stray dog to show up. And then my neighbor uncle showed up. I waited for 6 more minutes and then a real stray dog showed up. I called the dog towards me, “Hey jujjju, jajjja, come on here.” The dog slowly started walking towards me. And slowly, fear started creeping into me.

I said to myself, “Alright, now is the time. Come on. Tell the mantra.”
I started telling, “Am um om im em nam saravana bhavaaaaaaa shanmuga thevaaya namaha.”

There was no reaction from the dog. It was still moving towards me. I thought that maybe the stray dogs talked a different language and didn’t understand Sanskrit. I tried again, “Am um om im em nam saravana bhava shanmuga thevaaya namaha.” The dog didn’t stop – It came very close to me.

My dad, after looking at me and dog on the road, came out of home and said “shoo shoo shoo” at the dog. And the dog ran away.

I sensed some relief after the dog was gone. That was the day I found out “shoo shoo shoo” is better mantra and more easy to remember.

Learn Hindi in 30 days through Tamil… movies

I am from Tamilnadu, the state where people would never speak Hindi. But, nowadays, we have started learning it. Thanks to the new education system, people’s interest, and the presence of Katrina Kaif in bollywood.

In my childhood, many people from my hometown were not even aware of the existence of the language called Hindi. They thought that a female from Hindu religion was called Hindi. But my father was not one of them. Thanks to the presence of Hema Malini at that time.

My father was working as a film supervisor in one of the 6 movie theaters in our hometown, Karaikudi. Because of this job, we could watch any movie for free in all 6 theaters. Still, my father would allow us to watch movies only in 5 theaters. He didn’t quite like the idea of us watching movies in that 6th theater (Nataraja theater). When asked for the reason, he said, “This theater is very old, quite far from our home, and moreover, there will be no dialogues in any of the movies there.”

Our second favorite pastime in our childhood was watching movies. We could go to any theater, any show, free of cost. Our first favorite pastime was watching every movie three times, back to back shows. When I was 7, my younger brother Ganesh was 5 and my elder brother VJ was 11. My sister Abi was 8. At that time, my father would allow me and VJ to watch movies, but not Ganesh.

So, when VJ and I went to watch movies, we had to come up with some innovative excuses to get away from Ganesh. One of the best excuses that we came up with was ‘Hindi Classes’.
learn_hindi
Ganesh: Dei, where are you both going?
VJ: We are going for Hindi classes.
Ganesh: Who is your Hindi teacher?
VJ: Mmmm… Mmmm… Mama Helini.
Ganesh: Is teaching Hindi your teacher’s main profession or is it a side job?
VJ: Clerk-cum-Hindi teacher. (Looking at the wall clock for leaving quickly).
Ganesh: Your teacher teaches in a house or a class room?
VJ: House-cum-class room. (Looking at the wall clock for leaving quickly)
Ganesh: Your teacher is male or female?
VJ: Male-cum-female… er, we’ll explain later once we come back, ok?
Ganesh: When will you come back?
VJ: Two-cum-three o’clock. Bye.

After we were gone, Ganesh would keep on asking questions to our father.
1. “Dad, it’s already 3 hours since they were gone. Why aren’t they back yet?”
2. “Dad, why do they have to learn Hindi, when we already know Tamil?”
3. “Dad, why can’t we watch movies in Nataraja theater?”

At that time, we went to watch the movie ‘Gentleman’ (which was later remade in Hindi as ‘The Gentleman’). That was the greatest movie that we ever watched. We were watching the movie very closely to see if any of the actors were telling any Hindi dialogues, so that we could repeat that to Ganesh. During the interval, we promised the guys who were selling popcorn that we would buy 2 packs if they told us the Hindi name of it. We had to prepare ourselves to make up a story once we got back home. After all, Ganesh was not too young to believe, “Baba black sheep” is Hindi.

When we got back home, Ganesh started asking questions.
Ganesh: Dei, why are you so late?
VJ: I am not able to understand you. Talk to us in Hindi.
Ganesh: This is too much. What did you learn today?
Me: Baba black sheep.
*VJ silenced me and started making up a story*
VJ: Baba ka bi laka shabba hai.
Ganesh: Ok, where is your book?
VJ: It was free only; we didn’t book a ticket. *then realizes the mistake he made*
Ganesh: What?!!
VJ: We have given the book for binding.
Ganesh: What is…
Before he started asking his next question, we closed his mouth, and said “Open this only when you have to take your next meal, ok? Now go and nag dad.”

After a while, Ganesh started nagging our dad. “Dad, can you also send me to Hindi classes? I also want to learn baba ka bi laka shabba hai.” Dad said, “I’m not able to understand you. Talk to me in Tamil.”

This is how we used Hindi classes as excuse with Ganesh for watching movies in our childhood. Later, when we were adults, we could have used the same excuse with our parents to watch movies in Nataraja theater. But damn, we weren’t clever enough in our adulthood.

Now that we are grown up, we watched couple of movies in Nataraja theater along with the whole family members. Only that the theater is now renewed and decent movies get released.

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