I woke in the morning and saw my mother cleaning the house. I yawned and asked, “Who is coming now?” I was feeling groggy, after a long time I was in the house where I grew up.
“Your Dadu from Dadar is coming,” answered my mother. I got up brushed my teeth quickly. We are not really related by blood with grandfather (Dadu) of Dadar but nevertheless he was a grandfather who was an inspiration to me and my brother.
I was five years old when I first met him. It is so strange that you may not remember the percentage of increment you might have received this appraisal year but you do remember that five year old you. Sometimes you might be surer of that five year old version of you than what you are today. I met Dadu for the first time in Mumbai. We had come to visit Mumbai and little did we know that within a year Mumbai will be my home for coming years. Dadu was wearing white kurta and pajamas. He wore black spectacles and his hair was always neatly backcombed. He smiled broadly at me. My mother called him, ‘Niramish Kaku’ – vegetarian uncle. Dadu was Gujrati by birth, born in Gujrat and settled in Mumbai. In Mumbai he fell in love with Bengali culture and language and travelled to Kolkata in 1950s where he met my grandfather.
I remember Juhu Beach in 1992. I had never seen anything like it. In front of me there was a pool of people, ahead of those people was the vast Arabian Sea and the skyscrapers were draped behind us. At five, I knew that there were cities that never slept. I saw a world which even got up early in the morning and got ready for the future. The five year old I first realized how vast this world is. Dadu sat beside me and gave me cola and immediately he was my hero. Back in 1992 cola was not given so easily to children. We talked for a long time and I don’t remember most of our conversations but I remember asking him something.
“Dadu why is this place is so different?” I asked while hogging my first Pav Bhaji.
“One thing only cannot define a person, place or a thing. Look at all the people in front of us. They have same eyes, nose, and hair. But what makes them so different? They all want something different. Our dreams and desires makes us so different. So chose your dream carefully“
I washed my face and looked at the mirror and after so many years I remembered that day in Juhu Beach. Maybe because I was still in search of my dream. Between love, desire and ambition, dreams has just become today representation of coolness. I saw my mother cutting fruits and opening the rasgulla box.
Dadu was wearing spotless white pajamas and kurta. He had grown very old. His hair was back brushed but today he had only white hair. We talked for a long time and I told him about my travelling escapades.
“When I was your age, I wanted to see the world. To most of us this city meant the whole world to us. I used to walk from the Victoria Terminus station to Colaba and on the way I used to watch all the foreigners. They wore the best Parisian perfume and some women wore elegant dresses. The Parsi women wore fine chiffon sarees and always wore sunglass out in the sun. I could smell the strong cigar smell of the sahibs. In old coffee houses the business man, the directors and commoners all stayed in the same floor and we let our thoughts run wild. They used to call us crazy – I fell in love with your grand mom and married her. I made her work too so that we could both support our family. I have been to London but the world was right here in Bombay. You would have loved it.
You know child, you and me have come from the same DNA of a banana and and chimpanzee you see out there. We are born mad”
Evolution happens over generations and I feel like God today. From trunk calls to your grandfather to mobile calls to you. Like it all happened in a fraction of second.”
My mother played Rabindra Sangeet because it is still very dear to Dadu. While Amar Mollika Bone played in the background, my mother hummed the tune. “Be the crazy bunch, you will feel out of place now but the crazies live to see a new world. Now you are seeing 3D printing, tomorrow at my age you will see things which you never imagined and then wonder, how you were part of history and also the future.”
I was not surprised that Dadu knew about 3D printing. He never shut down to knowledge, new customs, postmodern traditions, but I was astonished that he truly celebrated life in all its melancholy, glory and happiness.
I drove my grandfather to Dadar in the evening, I didn’t want him to take the taxi. I picked up my friend and drove to the Bagel shop to grab some food. While we sat and more of our friends joined, I looked at all the people sitting around me- the crazy bunch.