Tuesday, December 08, 2009
My father was an Architect & Town Planner who got his degrees from Oxford University and The Royal Institute of British Architects.Responding to Pandit Nehru's call he came back to offer his skills to his newly independant Nation.In 1951 he joined the Chandigarh Project when it was envisaged with Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew,two British architects.Later the project went to Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret
He worked on the Chandigarh project in close proximity with Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret who were known us as Grandpere and Jeanneret Uncle.
My father was a workoholic whom we saw very rarely.Whatever time he spent with us was so little that we did not actually know him---he was 'Daddy' who according to our mother was her saviour and our final disciplinarian!!!
My two younger sisters and I were totally in awe of him because we feared his quick temper which would flare at the slightest provocation!!!
My father was later appointed the Founder-Principal of The College of Architecture in Chandigarh at it's inception and his work load increased tremendously.
In 1965 he suffered from Low BP and was advised to rest at home.His leave had been pending for 5 years---he had never availed of it!!!
Our mother jubilantly gave us the 'good' news---Daddy'd be home for 6 months on vacation----all three of us literally froze---what would happen to us????How were WE going to survive these six months?Heaven help us--specially me as I as the most headstrong ,hot headed and stubborn amongst the three of us.
Finally the month of May arrived and Daddy stayed home.We spent our first 2 months of his and our Summer Vacation in Mumbai and Kolhapur so were spared too much interaction with him----but July arrived and we came home to Chandigarh.
We slowly got to know him as he actually was.We became friends with him and realised what we had missed.He too became a child while inter-acting with us---our REAL live Teddy Bear--- and as the days passed it was as if we were four children having fun and playing pranks on our poor mother--- the four us became the bane of our her life!!!
He was a fantastic Mimic---a fabulous Singer-Painter and Dancer.He taught me to dance the Jive,Waltz,Foxtrot,Quick Step and the Cha Cha Cha.We began singing and appreciating Frank Sinatra,Bing Crosby,Jim Reeves,Pankaj Mullick , K.l. Saigal and Talat Mehmood songs along with those of Mohd.Rafi,Kishore Kumar,Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar,Asha Bhonsle,Elvis Presley,Cliff Richards,Pat Boone and Englebert Humperdinck.
The Indo-Pak War broke out and trenches were dug in our huge garden----our father turned our fear into a game and taught us to be fearless---so much so when Ambala just 40 miles from Chandigarh was bombed we took the news with horror at the bombing but with total equanimity and without fear.He motivated us to join the Red Cross and help out in whichever capacity we could.He felt that this was the minimum that we could do to thank those brave men who suffered in the battlefield so that we would remain safe.This way he taught us to appreciate everything that anyone does for us and to be vocal about giving thanks-----acknowledging anybody's good work should always come first."Give whole hearted credit wherever and whenever it is due" was what he taught us.
Today I regret we got such little time with him.Our entire lives would have been different had we shared a better rapport with him earlier---we'd have appreciated him more but I thank The Almighty for giving us those precious later years----for giving us such a loving,generous and open minded father.
He died on 15th.October 1974 aged just 53 years in Mauritius, where he had been invited by Sir Ram Goolam on deputation from India.I was 21,my sister Mekhala(Mikki)was 16 and the youngest Ritu was just 13.
Even today I sing "Oh what a beautiful morning" and "Singing in the Rain" as 'pick me up' songs on low days.I have taught my grandaughter these songs too---like my Daddy, these help me to change my outlook towards the day,square my shoulders,lift my chin and face Life with renewed vigour.
Thank You Daddy---all four of us love you and miss you---more than words can ever say.
Au Revoir till we meet again!!!