Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Indore- Glimpses Of Dad

In my fourth trip of the year so far, I went to Indore to attend the wedding of my Dad’s cousin brother, Luv Khot. When I met Luv, he asked me in complete bewilderment, “So Priyanka, How come you came so far to attend my wedding even though we never met?” Hmmm, I smiled the question away. Replying, “This is the second time we are meeting. The first time you had completely ignored me.” His expression was enough to tell me that with this answer he had become even more amused at my arrival to the city that was once the seat of the Peshwai.

I was not for even once offended at the question that Luv asked in jest several times over in the next two days. In fact even I had asked myself the question several times during my 18 hours train journey from Delhi to Indore. Significantly enough, the answer was simple. The occasion of Luv’s wedding was just an excuse. My main aim was to travel back in time, meet the family that I had heard about for so long from my late father, but had never met. The experience had to be monumental, I was convinced, as I was to, in form of stories, relive the moments my Dad had once lived in the city with his uncles, all his age-group.

‘In relations uncle, but in age and friendship, almost brothers,’ is how my dad often described them to me. I had this golden opportunity of meeting everyone under one roof in their best festive moods and hopefully nostalgic once they met me. I HAD to attend Luv’s wedding. I had a reason. I did not tell him this then, because I did not want to come across as a bad relative, trying to reduce the importance of the groom on one of the most important day of his life.

I know many might perceive my reason for the visit to be selfish. I would not even say it was not. In fact it was. It was one opportunity that I knew I had to lap up to, maybe only for just three days, see my father living in the twinkle of the eyes of his uncles when they shared stories of the mischief they conspired and executed together with panache. I had to see once again glimpses of my deceased Dad.

To see the characters in blood and flesh, who I had imagined to be only parts of the stories my Dad told me at bed time or during long train/bus journeys. I saw my Dad’s reflection in the polite manner of Brig. Prabhakar Khot, the wicked and immensely intelligent humour of Ravi Khot, the style of humming songs that Sunil Khot adopted and the shot temper yet extremely caring nature and concern that Anil Khot showered. My sincere apologies for writing their names without the respectful address of Aajoba that our relationship demands or uncle that I call them since all of them do not look and are not even old enough to be my grandfathers.

The stories that flowed were amazing. I really wish my Dad was alive so I could fight with him, for being so strict with me when he has done some of the most outrageous tomfoolery in his time. I mean he got kidnapped by an opposition camp for four days, when he stood for college elections. And he would not even permit me to stand in the school elections contending, “Politics is a dirty business.” He developed his strong taste for food in the city. The ear for music had also been sharpened in company of Sunil uncle. He had cycled for 25 kilometres to smoke cigarettes with Anil uncle.

The stories I heard and the love I saw in their eyes for my Dad is what I had gone looking for there. What overwhelmed me the most was the love I received from everyone I met. Being my Dad’s daughter is an address I have not been conferred with in a very long time. The family had adopted me instantly. Sushant, Asha Aaji, Jyoti Aunty, Pushpa Aunty and Suneeta Aunty welcomed me with such warmth that it was with a great effort that I kept my tears down. Not for a moment did I feel like I was meeting them for the first time. I belonged to the wedding. I was a Khot daughter and received all the love that I had longed for from that side of the family.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The First Step

Dear Ms Khot,

My name is John Calderone, and I am the associate editor of Outlook Delhi City Limits, a magazine that focuses on the city and what is happening in it.

We begin each issue with a section called Capital Letters, which are stories about Delhi written by its citizens. We generally let people write whatever they want to say about the city.

I had found your blog, Priyanka's Point, through a link on the Delhi Bloggers Group website, and I enjoyed your work, including the Delhi Photo Diary. So I was wondering if you would be willing to write a Capital Letter for the July issue of Delhi City Limits.

You could write about anything. The only two stipulations are that the letter be about Delhi and that it be about 500 words in length. A style similar to your "Delhi Smells, Mumbai Stinks" blog would be fine.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


John Calderone

Associate Editor

Outlook Delhi City Limits

Of course I jumped at the opportunity. You all would be happy to know that the following article was published in the July 14 issue of Outlook Delhi City Limits.

Considerate Delhiites

By Priyanka Khot

Traditionally Delhiites have never ranked too high when scored on the civic sense parameters. However, I would like to come forth in their defence. During the recent rains in the city I concluded that they are the most considerate of the bunch and found the aphorism “Dilli Dilwalon Ki” absolutely true. The rains helped me see the fellow Delhiites at their benevolent best.

The recent unexpected rains caught me, like most others, unprepared to battle the wrath of thunderstorms on my way to office. The auto-rickshaw driver, an integral part of the hierarchy that defines Delhi, was in a good mood and gracious enough, after a mere 10 minutes of haggling, to charge me only 100 rupees to take me to a distance that would by metre charge just 60 rupees. It was when he finally said "chaliye madam" that I was confident that the good karmas of my last birth were paying off. Once inside the auto-rickshaw I was off to la la land and started planning an Ayurvedic spa treat for myself during the coming weekend. At that moment my heart was filled with gratitude for the auto-rickshaw driver and my mind was busy focusing on the weekend.

My reverie was shattered as a speeding white Honda Civic zoomed adjacent to my royal ride soaking me completely with the loudest splash ever. Initially, I almost felt that I had committed a crime by having a bath before leaving for office and wasting so much of water. After sense prevailed it dawned on me that I should have anticipated the magnanimity of the fast car drivers to give me a mud-bath that would be better than the spa treat I was planning. It turned out to be the one that I would never forget. At the risk of repeating myself - Delhiites are a considerate lot and this particular one did not want me to spend a fortune on mud-packs or similar luxuries. The mud bath that soaked me from the tip of my hair to the toes, boasted of ingredients that no Ayurvedic spa could promise. This oh-so-unique mud-bath included the rain water, a mixture of cement + red sand + silt + animal and human excreta, and roadside liquid donations made by the male species inhabiting the city. The considerate Delhiite decided that when all the raw materials were abundantly available on the roads why not treat me, the Delhi darling, to an innovative mud-bath.

By this time my faith had been reinstated in the theory that a heart of gold is set in the anatomy of all Delhiites. Just then the auto-rickshaw driver also decided not to leave any stone unturned to cement my faith. Just at the confluence of rain-water, gutter effluence and public urination booth discharge he declared that he would go no further. Following a ten-minute bout of formal talks, I conceded defeat. Thanked him for bringing me close to the office and braved the floods with the residue of the mud-bath still clinging on my clothes, a smile on my face and admiration for Delhiites in my heart.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

To My Lil Brother

The dreams I see for you
Are mine left unfulfilled.
The promises I make,
Are those that never came through for me

The imperfections I try to smoothen from your life
Are ones that have creased mine for long
The role that I attempt to play in your life
Is of the one whom I miss most in my life

I try hard, but I let you down
My gifts fail to win your heart
When I try to bring a smile on your lips
I just see tears in your eyes

It’s not your fault I know
Conceding failure becomes a daunting task for me
I shout and scream, rant and rave
Its not at you sweet angel

You are not my child, I know
But I love you more than I could love my own
It might be hard for you to believe
But one day I might actually win you over

One day soon...