“Just go in and make that dal and rice!” are few of the many words I remember of my maternal grandad with which he dismissed my grandmother with the air of the typical indianmale dominance as he reclined on his throne-like couch to watch the bull and the bear fight on the huge television screen in the equivalently huge and old living room in the village of Lonavla.
Always a fun man to be with (of course, keeping aside the mood swings that are intertwined with the sensex swings), me and my cousins have done a hell lot of things right from enjoying icecreams on christmas eve on a super crowded indian street to playing crazy video games in the gaming zones to holding fun quizzes to win some reward money to buy some more firecrackers and chocolates during Diwali as our grandad joined us shedding his age aside and becoming a kid like us again. What I like about him is his overwhelming ability to seem to be knowing almost everything and anything in this world despite the fact that his life revolved around chemical productions and the market ups and downs- the other day through the regular US-India phone talk he spoke about wines with such intensity that I listened with as much respect as I would listen to Michael Weiss and Kevin Brausch although the wine connoisseur in me was urging to say that Ports are not just dessert wines but dry too and that all bubbly drinks are NOT Champagne since the latter has to be made in particular region in France to be named so. But above all this, what has been more intriguing for me are the philosophies towards life that he shares with me because they are often the reasons to stimulate a contradictory argument between us.
This was over one such cross-country call to greet the new year that my grandad, after asking all about my work life, time and temperature in the States that he fired one of those philosophical gunshots and said, ” You are now out of the egg, to face challenges and experiences.” My first reaction was an immediate contradiction; I wondered, am I out of the egg NOW or had I broken the shell way back before and now learning to fly? With this world revolving and evolving rapidly on it’s professional side, competition pressures, the enthusiasm to race ahead and the dirty politics had already seeped in from the ‘real world’ into the college environment. For me, all those who had plunged in to pursue their passion as their career had already broken their egg shells, braved unexpected storms like campus politics, professional corruption right after high school or junior college and had tried to fly past the flock in order to reach a level that they had dreamt of within the confines of their temporary nesting places. Those fledglings had seen how people changed their faces as quick as the day and the night, rolled through the thunders of disappointment, betrayal, mistrust and even unseen failures and pitfalls and learnt how to shed all emotions when it came to the single point of stepping up for progress. Ears had turned deaf to the playdowns and being called as the ruthless dogs as those few swooped and tackled the winds in the skies and flew on.
As our phone talks continued with my mind still playing the contradictory game, I realized the true meaning behind what my grandpa had just said. No doubt we had long cracked the egg, but we were still within the safety of the nest, often flying out to take a peek at the real world and then flying back again inside the comfort zone to ponder over the possibilities that lay out there; of course the nests changed from our home to different cities and countries but the feeling of being in a safety zone existed without us knowing it. But now we were truly outside, right in the war zone where a fight, a struggle awaited us and although our past experiences had armed us with enough ammunitions and skills we were vulnerable to be shot straight in the face anytime, any moment.
Wishing him a good day, I kept the phone and stared outside the night-sky which was darker than usual. Rolling thunders and lightning spoke of a snowstorm that was building up. I wondered how many such storms would I have to face; I sensed a tornado of questions swirling in my mind questioning my fears, my passion, ambition and capability and I smiled, as I thought of a wonderful solution to all these questions – I finished my nightcap coffee, jumped into the shower with the bathroom singer in me singing loudly, ‘ aal izz well ‘(All is well).