Belated Father's Day Post

(Picture: Me with my cousin Kalyani. Dad tweaked with the settings of the camera and is craning to see if the flash would get switched on in that mode)

I am teaching Raunak to tie various knots. This is in preparation to teach him to pitch a tent. I was going through my childhood pictures and felt nostalgic looking at the pictures from my Girl Scout days. Pitching tents in the wilderness of the Manoharabad forests, building bridges from staves and ropes, making swings and rope ladders to climb trees, cooking on fire made from dried twigs, methodically leaving marks on trees as we walk into the woods to ensure we are not lost, the code language with whistles for emergencies...those were some of the best days of my life. I wanted to introduce Raunak to the joys camping in the wild with absolute basic equipment. The ides was to substitute wilderness with the backyard of my parent's place. Raunak had already mastered the art of tying a Clovehitch and a Reef knot. I was very excited until I spoke about this to a friend of mine. He asked me why I have to do all this when he will never really have the need to pitch a tent in his life. Well the intention is not really to teach Raunak survival skills in extreme situations. It is just to have some fun. Fun that is different from playing video games, going to the bowling alley, watching TV and having a snack at Mac Donald's that he gets to do all the time. But then, the straight forward logic of my friend killed me. It got me thinking if my childhood was different.
The first memory that came to my mind when I put that question to myself was the time when my parents decided it was time to bid adieu to Doordarshan and the antenna on the terrace and graduate to cable TV. Mom asked dad to give away the antenna to someone who may find it useful. Dad said that someone is him. The first weekend after that, dad called me to help him, as usual, while carrying a shoe box filled with assorted old parts of various broken equipments. I could recognize diodes, LEDs, small batteries and knew how to solder parts together when dad asked me to. "What are we going to do with these dad?" I asked him and he said "I will teach you how to make a radio with the TV antenna," he said. "How?" I asked. "We'll figure it out", he replied. I still remember the joy when the crude radio came to life and we heard some gibberish. The quality of the speaker we attached was pathetic and we strained our ears to understand the message. Finally we could hear "Vivid Bharati…" and we punched the air. I never had to make radios in my life, but that experience was priceless.

That was not a lone incident; there were so many interesting problems to solve. Mom and dad left for work at 8 in the morning and used to come back at 6 in the evening. Water supply happened bang in the middle of the day, and mom always struggled to ensure that we had enough water. Her solution was simple. Open the tap just a little, little enough to fill the big plastic tub but it always failed and invariably the kitchen was flooded. Dad came to her rescue and both of us did a whole series of things that year to solve the water problem. We built a big water tank in the kitchen with bricks and cement. Then we figured a way to ensure that the tank never overflowed and flooded the kitchen. We could have just hired a person to fill water for us when we were not there but dad wanted to solve the problem himself, it was like a brain teaser for him. And the time me and my brother spent with my dad during all this is one of the best memories of childhood we have. I never had a need to build cement water tanks or device a complicated mechanism to fill water but the lesson my dad taught of being willing to think differently and find solutions within the constraints is most precious.

Happy belated Father’s Day dad. Don’t know if that’s what you say on Father’s day but you get the message right?