Monday, April 1, 2013

An ode to the men architects in my life

When I receieved a mail from Blogadda asking me to participate in the contest. I did think of writing about the men who have shaped  and honored my life. Then my mind started vacillating should I or should’nt I ?

Though I socialize and talk to everybody,   I am a very private person when it comes to sharing my personal thoughts and personal life especially I don’t talk about my loved ones. That is why I never link my blogs to my social network because  I don’t want anybody around me like when I walk on the road to know my innermost feelings or what’s happening in my home. You got the drift?

 Like I said, I socialize  a lot in my condominium and during the course of conversations, many of my friends do tell how their parents did not allow to make choices in their life, how some of their husbands are chauvinistic,  how their grandparents were orthodox etc., It is at these times I have felt how blessed I am to have these men in my life. Perhaps, that is why it took long for me to understand gender discrimination or male chauvinism.

Many a times I do think of writing about them but something holds me back saying maybe I will not be able to encompass my emotions for them in words and perhaps I may do injustice to my love for them. I decided i will write because it is not about  my love for them.  But how I am influenced by them.

Here they go my male mentors, my inspirers, my guides, my soldiers , my architects and more about their influence  in chronological order:

My paternal Grandfather: Today, with women working outside the home, some men share the household chores but imagine some 7,8 decades back if a man did all these things how progressive he must have been. My thatha( that is how we call grandpa)  is one.  He knew no gender biased jobs. He was at ease with cooking, making sambar  powders, serving food for the women folk of the house. Infact, the art of chopping vegetables finely was something l learnt for him apart from the ‘Never say Die’ attitude. Every time he fell he rose up like a phoenix.  One of the few traction battery experts of his time( infact, his clients say he was the only one who knew the formula which he learnt in Germany)  who held a leading position in a battery company in Bangalore.  He gave up the job when he got a call from a leading cine actress Vanisri to  start a battery company in Madras as a partner. The company sunk due to some problems. And thatha who owned 2 cars and a cushy life was left with nothing. He took up a  consultancy job to a start up company in Bangalore which manufactured battery operated moped called’ Electrona 24’. Yet again the sales did’nt pick up perhaps the idea of a battery operated vehicle was far ahead of its times. In the mid 80’s there was not much commotion about  environmental pollution. This grand pa of mine was undeterred and he rose up again  as a successful consultant and went on to work till the day of his death at age 75.  His  life is a lesson for me. Everytime I fall, I think of him and rise.  I never topped my class but he proudly said his granddaughter was intelligent and had good general knowledge.  I was his first grand child and he wanted me to be a business entrepreneur. He celebrated my first birthday with such great pomp by inviting dignitaries and sending printed  invitations. Everytime, I lose in a sport or any competition, he patted my back and said ‘Participation is more important than winning’.  His passion was cooking,  I learnt making traditional dishes from him while on a holiday to my aunts’ place (Dewas).

My Maternal grandfather: Oh! How pompous he was!! whenever  I showed him any of my article published in a magazine, he would take it from me and show it around to everybody and he would talk about to all in a wedding hall or if anybody came over.. Actually it would’nt even be a great article but he felt so proud of this granddaughter. The pats and appreciation from him were like a boost for me. He often told me “everytime an opportunity presents itself, take part don’t hesitate. Infact, make your presence felt in a crowd” His famous quote in life was a couplet from the tamil saint Thiruvalluvar “Thondril pugozhodu thondruga, agdilar thondril thondrami nandru” Roughly translates to “when you are born, you must be famous, else it is not worth to be born”  . He himself was a famous water diviner of his times who has dowsed wells in many parts of India like the tea gardens of Assam, Bengal, Mango orchards in AP and at divine places like Saint Ramana’s Ashram and the Kanchi mutt.  When I went a couple of years back to the Saint’s Ashram, the administrator said “ The wells that your grandpa dowsed have never been dry”. How his work lives even after he is gone.

Their encouragement and pats often cross  my mind and helps me bounce like a spring when I am down and low.  Both my grandpas are no more but I am sure they are watching me from above and  feeling proud when I even write a post and would have definitely bragged about my blog had they been alive. Sometimes, I think I was not even a published author or never wrote any research article, not even a topper  but why were they so proud of me. Perhaps their way of encouraging a little girl.

 My dad: Anything I tell about him will be less. Anyways this post is not about love  but how men encouraged women. Generally in some societies, if a girl child is born people feel pity for the parents of the girl child. I myself have seen people telling my  parents at the bank or at any public place ” Oh, so you have two daughters?” laced with pity and my dad would say with pride “ Yes, two daughters”. I and my sister(6 years my junior) were given complete freedom to take up the course of our study. When I have seen parents around  insisting that they follow their foot steps. My dad stood by me when I wanted to take up electronics and made proper arrangements to ensure that I study well by providing all the study materials. Even at 10 in the night, my dad would rush to the faraway shop to get me a notebook. Is that all? He never imposed his choices and let us make our own decisions. Be it about our course of study, career or about my wedding. My parents took our permission and only then decided even in family affairs. Oh! forgot to tell you, like his dad, my dad too doesn’t demarcate household chores as feminine job. He can cook, sweep, wash dishes and has instilled in me the value that doing one’s house work like cleaning wash rooms  is not degrading. And when he and his brothers gettogether, it is they who cook and serve the women folk. Even yesterday, over phone my mom told me since appa is helping her in the household chores she is able to rest her arthritic knees.

My husband:  He is  one of the coolest person who has had a  major positive influence on me. He is my Robin Sharma, Dale Carnegie all rolled in one. Everytime I turn pessimistic about some thing, he infuses the positivity in me. At every step, he has encouraged me in taking up things and doing independently. He knows my potential more than me.  I am a very sensitive person and can easily get hurt. It is he who taught be to be indifferent towards negative criticism and take things lightly . Infact, one of his mantras to me is ‘Be light headed to feel at peace’. Don’t be a football of other’s emotions and get kicked around. Just be you and do want you want as long as you feel it is right. Temperamentally and idealogically we are poles apart but we complement each other.  What’s more he is not preachy when he says all these things. His one wish is that I have to drive the car or even a two wheeler so that it will make me more mobile while he is away on official tours. But sadly that doesn’t happen, because  everytime he encourages me to take up the driving seat, I start shouting that he is not bothered about his wife’s life and other such things. So he leaves it at that while the children in the back seat chuckle and exchange glances at their dad. He too knows no gender biased jobs and can cook, chop veggies, clear tables and put clothes for drying. Infact, once while I was away on training, he cooked a new dish and now almost every weekend or holiday my children insist he cook that dish while I relax.

My son:  His mature talks influence me to turn around my decision. It was only recently On Women’s day, I was standing in the balcony feeling the cool breeze. He and I were conversing as to how the day went by. During the conversation, I told him I don’t believe in dedicating one day in a year and naming it as women’s day, father’s day, grand parents day etc., I told him it was a westernized concept to boost the sales of gift articles and promote greeting card companies.  He just like my husband patiently explained. I quote him” No, ma. It is not like that. You cook daily, care for us and help us every day. Every day if I said 'thank you' it will mean nothing to you and it will become a part of the routine. And moreover, many will be in  a hurry to reach the school bus or to office in the morning and may not say thank you to their mom/women. Many care for their  women, but people stop to say thank you and celebrate their women on women’s day”.  Well,  I did turn around my stand that day. Each time I talk to him I learn something new and I keep educating myself only to be able to converse and win arguments with him. That said, I like to lose arguments with him. And yes, he too at 14 makes the best tea, a good baker and a great chef. He even washes vessels and cleans the vessels with a soft cloth leaving them sparkling clean when I am unwell. Oh, he also makes me weak when he carries heavier things and gives the lighter things to me.

I am privileged to be born into a family where men and women complement each other and luckily married into one such family. I could write more and more about all the above men  who have philanthropy as their middle name.  They have encouraged me and made me stronger, independent and intelligent and above all instilled great values. And there are many more like my late FIL( he was such a humble person ), uncles, my colleagues, my boss, my male teachers like my maths teacher  but that will make this post a tad longer.

Perhaps that is the reason it baffles me to know that some of my friends husband don’t enter the kitchen to even drink a glass of water leave alone make tea. Some don’t allow their wives to handle finances. Some don’t allow their women to make career choice. Some are forced to work while some are forced to stay back against their choices.

This post is a part of "Soldiers for women" in association with the best community of Indian Bloggers


  1. Wonderfully refreshing post Asha. Most of the coverage men receive is so negative, that I have stopped listening to or reading women forums or blogs that write about men. As far as I know, goodness or badness is not gender specific !!!

    That's why I found this post so refreshing. I dare say that there are quite a few men, including those featured here who are dabbing at their eyes today. Bravo.

    1. Absolutely, there are many men who are sensitive, caring, supportive, honor and respect women and similarly there are many women who can be the opposite. Thank you for the nice words:)

  2. A very well written post Asha. We have come to know you as a person shaped by the good influences of all the good men in your family. It is so good to know about the architects who made you what you are today.

  3. Thanks for the nice words, Rama:)

  4. Bravo gal; the men in our life indeed need a special mention and more so if they are truly as sensitive & supportive like ur grandparents and hubby. super cool post !

  5. Dear Asha,

    Yes, these men in our lives - their presence just cannot be appreciated enough.

    Nice post. Written well.

  6. Glad to see you here, Shail. Thank you:)

  7. lovely post .. reminds me to go and thank the men in my life .. :)

  8. Do it bhargavi, the contest has been extended till april 14th.