Thursday, April 17, 2008

My first two men were born on the same day

It was Appa's 60th birthday and Robi's 33rd birthday on April 14th. People have often asked me, how I managed to find a hubby who is exactly like my dad. Well they are very different in many ways, but I feel that they share some common fundamental values, which is probably what I found so attractive in Robi. This post is about their birthday party. I also wanted to do a small tribute to my first 2 favourite men (now ofcourse a third man has come and captured my heart as well and Achach and Ro, you guys come a close second i must admit!), but I think this post is already a bit long, and I shall reserve my tribute for another post.

The party
We had a party for Appa (Robi without any complaints took the backseat on his birthday this year, cos it was Appa's big one!). We had driven there from Chennai to be there for the big day. The party which consisted of about 60 people of close family and some select friends (I know that 60 people somehow does not sound like close family and friends, but in ktym it really is) was a resounding success.

The food was good, the venue (sailing club) was great as usual and the crowd was fairly smallish. I hear that the cocktails which Mohanchayan whipped up for everyone were great too...I stuck to beer so didn't get to taste it.

Appuchayen and Ria had organised some sort of a cartoon thingie with appa and amma as the main characters. There was also a small slide show of old photos which were really nice. These were also put together by appuchayen and ria. Then there was the usual drinking, singing away with Achach on the guitar and ofcourse the birthday cake cutting (as per tradition, the cake was cut by Appa, prasadchayan and Robi together). Karan who has inherited his father's love for the mike, eyed the mike for a long time, and finally managed to grab it and sing "happy birthday appacha". There was also a small ceremony of Avarachayen giving appa a fancy shawl (i guess akin to presenting a ponnada).

But the highlights of the event in my view was chickuchayan's speech (see below) and Appa's reply speech which was in promptu (which no one unfortunately managed to record). Appa's speech was funny and emotional (Appa cried quite a bit) and he managed to say little stories about various people in the crowd. He thanked everyone (individually) for the good times he had shared with them mentioning little incidents about each of them. I told Appa on the drive back that the speech was great and that he had managed to thank everyone other than perhaps the most important person Amma. So Appa said he had noticed that and that he had as soon as he went to sit back, told Amma that and thanked her! (I am glad to hear that)

Chicks' speech
"60 years back yoga was an exotic activity practiced by a few maharishi’s on the banks of the Ganges, Bridge was something one used to cross rivers, sex was more common than the sensex and the lodge was where one took women unknown to your wife and paid by the hour…and then came Balu with his five passions yoga, bridge, the stock market, freemasonry and Susan not necessarily in this order.….

A long narration of the past 60 years of Balu’s life is not relevant as we have only family and close friends here and every bit of his life is well known to each one of you. But rather it is an ode to a person who has not just been a brother, but a father, a friend and guide, not just for me but for a lot of you out there.

The earliest stories I have heard of Balu from Ammachy was his pirupiruppu when he was really young. How he caught a live chicken and tore it literally into two. Maybe it was such antics which made her send Balu to Madras Christian College school. He was a brilliant student coming top of the class in every form. In fact when General Thimmaiya came to present the proficiency prizes one year, all the prizes in one class went to a certain Jacob Cherian, and the General reportedly thought aloud …is there no other child in this class?

When I was a small boy, I used to tag on to him and maybe on Ammachy’s insistence used to be carried along to movies and other cousin’s outings in his old 9191 fiat car. Shane Warne must have picked up a few tips from cricket matches at Mount Wardha, Balu’s spinning technique being unique, the spin derived from a real squeeze of the tennis ball and its release. Each ball was a mystery, it could be a perfect leg break or it may land up in the top branch of the tree. He was my hero and then he got married to Susan. I considered her the worst person in the world for taking him away from us! Susanmama still says she was so scared of me those days.. i think she still is!

Metamorphosis is a word used rarely for humans…but in Balu’s case it aptly describes him. In the swinging seventies 8 pegs a day and 4 packets of wills navy cut was the norm rather than the exception. Balu was all of 120 kgs. His anger was well known then and I am sure all of us have had some experience of this when he was a young chap. Reghu claims he still has the marks on his body of Balu testing Muhammed Ali’s left hook on him. If Deepa had seen the Balu of then I am not so sure, she would have agreed him to be Jeevan’s godfather.

But with the introduction of transcendental meditation and yoga, Balu metamorphised into what he is now. A sober and patient person with great consideration for others. Or maybe it was Susan’s doing…in fact a few days after their wedding in 1972 an ad appeared in the malayala manorama…for sale-Encyclopedia Britannica volumes-not needed anymore- wife knows everything.

Most things about Balu is so well known to you, but let me just point out two of his lesser known achievements. Balu is perhaps the best ritualist in our Masonic lodge. His ceremonies as the Master were impeccable. It was my fortune to be initiated into the Masonic movement under his Mastership. He has won several awards in Masonry. Similarly there lurks in him an astute legal mind. He is able to grasp complicated legal points and several cases were won just due to this talent, even though he has never read law during his academic career. Perhaps Rahul and Rupa got their love for the legal profession from this inborn talent in their family.

His qualities are many-but let me just list a few-patience, generosity, listening skills and absolute absence of jealousy. His patience is unlimited and when we go to him with a problem, he just listens and in most cases after we vent out our thoughts the problem just goes away. In fact their house has been a sort of counselling centre for the young and old alike. He is always ready to help you with anything, be it stock tips or other friendly advice. And with his simple lifestyle, he has no need to feel jealous about others. I have never heard him say a bad word about a single human being. And inspite of such qualities he never shows the least sign of self righteousness. I’m ok, you’re ok would be the best title for his autobiography.

Rahul, Rupa and Rohit have imbibed all of Balu’s and Susan’s philosophy of life and have come out well in life. I still remember pulling Rahul to the nursery in Pallikoodam, he crying all the way to class. Once when Mrs. Roy asked Rahul what does your father do? He replied ‘everything my mother asks him to!’ Susanmama, you are the supermom and the superglue which sticks the family together. A family without in-laws, because Roby, Anjana and Rebecca are more children than the children. With Bachan as the pilot, and Susan as the steward they are the ideal picture book family.

Liked by all and disliked by none. So many friends and no enemies. May I wish Balu many more years of happiness. Ladies and gentlemen, will you join me in a toast to a very special person…Balu."

Well I guess that sums it up.


Blogger Rohini said...

That's such a perfect speech - funny in parts, sentimental in other parts and overall just the kind of thing I would love to have said about me on my 60th birthday!

Monday, April 28, 2008  
Blogger lawyeramma said...

ya, i know!! and hey, thanks for leaving me a comment even though i am posting after sooooo long....its nice to know that you checked to see if i had put up any new posts!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008  

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