You have doubtless read my little piece titled ‘the amazing adventures of a Tamil Brahmin’, based on the real life adventures of Appa, my father-in-law. In case you are one of the unfortunate few who have not, I strongly suggest you desist from revealing this in public. Instead you can quickly read through it here http://ramgvallath.blogspot.in/2010/01/amazing-adventures-of-tamil-brahmin-aka.html and hold your head up proudly.
The ones who did read the original piece must have been wondering whether after a glorious start, Appa fizzled out into obscurity, since no further updates of his adventures were shared. If so, they are gravely mistaken. Appa has moved from strength to strength, delivering more than the initial promise. I can see that you are upset that I have not kept you, my faithful reader, posted on the progress. It is just that after those initial years when Appa was taking roots in my life, I got rather busy with corporate life, bringing up two brats, contracting an auto immune disorder, writing books, stem cell transplant etc. and have not had time to chronicle the continued adventures of Mr. Ramamurti – ie. Appa.
But I think now it is time to release a refresher capsule.
If you recall, I had described Appa as a meek and god-fearing sort of chap whose most aggressive behavior was cancelling Economic Times on weekends behind my back. But he soon surprised me with his audacity and risk taking ability when he deigned to try out Appam, a totally Malayali dish for breakfast. This coming from a man who has eaten only rice and rasam for lunch every day for over twenty years! That moment, I realized there was more to Appa than meets the eye. I pulled out the competency framework I had used to evaluate Appa, and against the attribute ‘Risk taking ability’, where I had written ‘are you kidding?’ I wrote ‘needs further observation’.
And observe him I did, closely- without the man ever feeling that he was under constant scrutiny. But my scrutiny was woefully inadequate. Appa surprised me again. Five years into my marriage, one evening he proudly announced to Jayu and I that he had just got his four wheeler license. I ogled at the man, stunned. He was sixty seven at that time and used to wince every time I accelerated the car to above forty kilometer per hour! This same man had enrolled himself secretly in a driving school, learned how to drive and had actually got himself a driving license. He did this so that he could drive little Ananya to school, he confided to us. I whipped out the competency framework and scratched out the ‘needs further observation’. I changed it to ‘Oh My God!’ (OMG was not invented in those days).
Appa continued relentlessly to surprise me. Somewhere in the mid of the last decade, he adopted the cell phone. The primary use was to call me every time I was to go on any tour directly from office to ask me ‘You have left office no, RamG?’ ‘Have you taken your wallet and laptop?’ ‘What about the ticket?’ and ‘Have you checked in RamG?’ or he would call home whenever he was travelling to ask ‘Have the children left for school?’ ‘Has the gas been switched off?’ ‘Children are OK, no?’ and ‘How is your cold, RamG?’
He quickly migrated up to the next level of tech-saviness and started sending SMSs. We started receiving messages such as ‘boarded. All well’ and ‘will reach in one hour. Latha can keep rasam’ etc.
Ramamurti made the successful transformation to eRamamurti when he asked Jayu to create an email ID for him. I was amazed at his willingness to keep conquering new technologies. I had to smile indulgently when he started bombarding us with mail forwards of jokes which had been doing the rounds for years and which he must have come across for the first time now in his e-enabled avatar.
But eRamamurti would not stop there. He pestered Advay to open a Facebook account for him and jumped to the cutting edge of social media. By now, I had stopped being surprised by anything Appa did. I guess it is just this sense of openness to adapt and change which made him accept me wholeheartedly as his son-in-law, in spite of our huge differences. The same ability to adapt which made him accept the fact that the kids and I have non-veg at home. The same adaptability which has made him totally comfortable with his Tamil and Malayalam TV programs and his bhajan-chanting in his room while he lets us lead our drastically different lifestyle.
The only trouble was that with eRamamurti now dabbling around with a Blackberry, an iPod, a laptop and a desktop, every once in a while he would run into a tech problem which would stump him. The kids, occupied with their own stuff, would not solve his problems immediately. Then he would come to me, humbly requesting me in his own self-deprecating way to help him out whenever I had a moment to spare.
I have laid down one rule for myself- Appa’s slightest need would take priority over anything else I am doing. I have also told the kids the same thing. Since he is the last person to impose himself on others, he comes to us for help only when he has absolutely no other option, and that too after hesitating many times. As the eldest member of the house, he should know that his slightest wish is our command.
If he holds on to the current trajectory, I am sure that he will be editing videos and mixing music soon. I am waiting for the day when one fine morning, he will greet me with a high five and ‘Yo, sup dude!’