Last weekend, my parents completed 50 years of their wedding anniversary. As usual they insisted on no celebrations, and warned us months ahead in advance that they want zero fan fare. We said, we are cool with that. However, they did not trust us as they overheard us doing some type of elaborate planning. A week ahead of their anniversary day on May 31st, my Mom and Dad said “We are going to celebrate our anniversary tomorrow morning based on Hindu calendar day” with close family members (and invited Dad & Mom’s immediate brothers and sisters), and celebrated their anniversary with Vedic rituals at home, with just 12 hours notice. They caught all of us off-guard by complete surprise. Since, I was in London and could not attend the event, and only could get glimpse of the event via LIVE Whatsapp images streamed by my sister.
Now that big event was ruled out, and that we wanted to respect their wish, we (24 member Chintala khandaan, who all lived together in a single mansion at one time, like you see only in movies these days) decided to celebrate the event on May 31st (per English calendar day) at Golconda Resorts in Gandipet. We wanted the event to be little ‘hatke’, and wanted it to be a true ode to our parents. As part of multiple events we planned, for one event, we interviewed our parents separately and asked series of questions on how they met, what was their first confrontation about, their likes & dislikes, what was their toughest time in last 5 decades, and more, and confronted both of them together on their answers. They did quite well in our cross exam. However, finale event was an emotional roller coaster, as I had asked each member of the family (in the order of chronology of age) to give their in-person ‘ode’ to Dad and asked them to share me (like you see on “Oprah” or “Coffee with Karan”) what they had learned and inspired from their parenting. It made them laugh and cry during the process, as you can see from the video glimpse
What adult members said about them wasn’t that surprising, but what kids spoke about them was quite endearing and surprising. Three of my nieces were in US, and one of them was in Karnataka. I had them send their video recording via Whatsapp.
Below list documents what they have said, and what I have learnt from our parents. This list can be quite long, and shall be a work in progress.
- I never seen my parents express deep hatred, jealous, malice, and other synonyms that you can think of, to/on anyone. I know it is so hard for one not to experience these emotions in today’s world. You should always keep/express your ‘anger’ or other unpleasant emotions at peripheral level (if you are compelled to express one). Deep hatred does more damage to you, not to the person who you have grudge against
- If you tell the truth (as much as possible), you do not really need to remember what you have told to whom
- My Dad suffered from Level 2 cancer just 18 months ago. He went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy, major surgery on his colon, and was in the hospital for 80% of the year. He never said, “Why me?”. We always tend to say “Why Me?” when are in bad times, never question “Why Me?” in good times. However, he never questioned his fate or destiny. He did not ask for sympathy directly or indirectly. He did not shed a tear. He endured entire pain with a smile; despite everyone around him felt deep tragedy. He taught us his best character, i.e., strength & endurance in toughest times. Yes, he has recovered from the cancer.
- Yes. My mom & dad does bicker dozens of times through out the day on trivial stuff (given their age). But I see subtle romance in those fights, bickering, and frustration. They show and express deep concern and care for each other. I am learning to laugh at our bickering in our house between me & Radhika 🙂
- My dad joined the current textile Enterprise for which he was Managing Director for 3 decades, on a monthly wage of INR 30 per month (no, it wasn’t lot of money during his time too). He went up the ladder, absolutely through hard work, dedication, integrity, values, ensuring loyalty and satisfaction for his customers. He was a distributor of cloth material to over 3000 retail shops around 3 states surrounding AP. Though I am the odd person in the family to work for someone and make someone else rich. Hoping to build an organisation one day like the dad did.
- My dad finished 10th grade with great difficulty due to financial constraints. Due to the same constraints, he did not attend college or high school. That did not stop him for being a visionary in business in adopting business models, one of which is analogical to “Dell Model”. I am yet to get his DNA on this aspect. I am hardly a visionary
- My Dad came to my school when I was 2nd grader. He never came to school for next 12 years. We were 5 kids for him. I wonder if he even knew what grades we were going at one time. Same with my Mom. She was actually asking us to bunk the classes, whenever we felt uneasy or lazy. There was no “helicopter parenting” that is a rage today. They never overwhelmed us checking what we are up to, what we are going to do. We all turned out ‘alright’. What’s the magic here? They worked so hard for us, which made us want to do something that makes them proud? I do not know. I am yet to figure it out. He did spank us few times during the decade, when we scored low :-). There was always fear of “gabbar singh” imposed by Mom about Dad. I am yet to learn to strike a balance with my own kids on how much parenting to provide for them
- It did not matter, what he was earning: Dad & Mom were always wanted to provide best in class for the family that “the money they had” bought. They hardly went on personal vacations or indulged on their own personal spend. Everything that they earned/thought/did was for us
- My Dad was always looking out for trends on what’s needed for the kids. I hardly aimed for Master in Computer science, which was just an evolving trend in 1988. Before I boarded my flight to Houston on Jan 3rd, 1989 on I-20, which allowed me to pursue ‘fully funded’ Masters in Civil Engineering, He said to me, “I know you have got scholarship. Dump it. Go for MS in Computer Science. I will fund you”. I landed in Beaumont on Jan 5th 1989, walked to Department of Computer Science, and with great confidence said, “I want to enroll into School of Computer Science”. I am glad I did it. Full story on this “How I met my wife” blog series later
- My mom ran the house with 4 daughters-in-law (DIL) for 2 decades, with minimal controversies, ensured minimal room for disgruntle amongst DILs and between DILs and Mom. Those who are in India, can vouch, how difficult task is that, especially in last 2 decades. She can easily win most non-controversial Mother-in-Law in the town. She ensured equal justice, more to some, less to some, based on the event/situation on the ground, and finally ensured equal love & care & justice to all. This is tougher than designing a super computer on a microchip. Living with 4 DILs, is like walking on a field of land mines. You are always bound to upset someone. However, I do not remember major controversies in our house. She always seemed to be in poise and control. Even when she was chiding someone, it appeared to be very peripheral. There is no book or course to learn how to be successful in this role, or make this happen. It should be part DNA that you are born with, and part ‘will’ that you need to build. All 4 DILs showed great restraint too, and were like role model on their own. Each of them compete now to get Mom & Dad to stay with them.
- I feel above Mom’s character was quite endearing, specially given that my mom did not experience great times with her own mother-in-law who was quite old fashioned and stubborn. Despite that, My mom embraced her own MIL for last 3 decades of her life (she lived for 90 years) with zero flash-back of what she experienced. She taught one should moved on with unpleasant things in life
- My Dad always said, No one can be considered as a “RICH” person if their liabilities are more than their assets. Simple funda, but most folks get carried away on this aspect. It does not matter, if you have 10,000 crores in assets; if your liabilities are more than your assets, you are a poor person. This reminds me of Vijay Mallya and how poor he is, despite his flashy life style.
- Dad always cautions us, asks us to plan for enough recurring income that meets / exceeds our current / future living expenses; He says then we can truly considered ourselves as a rich person, as we need not depend on salaried / business income (which means we are not constant pressure). Most of what he taught are part of financial management books, and some what he quoted can be found in book “RICH DAD POOR DAD” (obviously he does not even know such books exists)
- They embraced CSR (corporate social responsibility” before even when such term was not coined. They donated part of their earnings to take care of people and organisations around them.
- They were always available to extend moral and economical support to folks in the extended family. Over 30% of the folks in Family Business is staffed with folks from the immediate extended family. That does not mean, there was any room allowed for compromise in the ethics and values in the work place
- I remember my mom hosting Dad and Mom’s brothers and sisters and their families for years for long periods during summers. Kitchen was active 15 hours a day. I never noticed frustration on her face. She was always smiling in her trademark humor in most situations. When did we see last time, we or our spouse hosted our siblings and their families more than a week in our houses ? Tolerance levels for hosting someone for a while, and not expecting anything written is not the trend these days
- Dad seems to be always in cheerful and optimistic what’s coming in the life; There is always exuberance and enthusiasm of doing something. He rarely sits idle. He always seems to be planning to do something for us, and for our kids. He never stops worrying about emotional, and financial security of his loved ones
- To be continued
Video of my interview with folks from Chintala Khandaan
Do watch above video (specially last 20 minutes), if you understand Telugu. Some of the emotions expressed, does not need any language.