August 17, 2009

Paati~

I woke up to the vibrating buzz from my phone. I was having a very interesting dream. The anchor had just announced my name and amidst thundering applause and a standing ovation, I was walking towards the stage to collect the National award for the best director (also my fifth award for the night).

“Paati Mob”, the screen screamed and I knew this was the real thing and smiled. The call got disconnected in three rings, the time it takes for my Paati (Grand mom) to realize her mistake and cut the call.

The scene began to change. I was smiling with pride and had reached the stage by then. Mani Ratnam was standing there with the award in his hand, he smiled as I approached. As I was about to put my hands out to collect the award, the phone in my jeans began to vibrate. Then it starts ringing again and the sound was resonating everywhere. The anchor was staring at me with her mouth wide open. I could hear Big B and Junior B sitting in the front row twitch and squirm in their seats and curse me for not keeping my phone on silent. And then it rang again. And again. Three rings and it got disconnected.

“Paati Mob”, the screen screamed and I knew this was the real thing and smiled. The call got disconnected in three rings, the time it takes for my Paati to realize her mistake and cut the call.

My Paati has a new mobile phone for the last four months. But she’s still trying to understand how it works. She had always been great with numbers. Be it the ones on her sudoku board or remembering phone numbers. She was good with statistics and scores of cricket matches too. In fact she learnt Hindi listening to the commentary on DD. Her understanding of Hindi numbers is better than most North Indians I know. I remember the time when she used to wake up at 4 in the morning to watch India play Australia in Australia. The match always started at an ungodly hour. She would be up and ready with her kaai- kari (vegetables) spread across in front of her while she settled down to watch the match right from the pitch report and toss. She knew for a fact that I would also be up to watch the game and immediately after the toss; she would call me (I lived in the next house). And would then discuss the strategy of the game and tell me her views on what the wicket looked like and what it might do for the team batting first. I would always tell her that she should have been the coach of the Indian team. Imagine a madisaar clad old lady sitting in the dressing room in front of a laptop making notes during a match. Now that would be a sight.

She loves her 7 children, 8 grand children and 3 great grand children. She is a Rock star. She sings like a dream. She distributes Gokulashtami Bhakshanams in a way that would put mathematicians and statisticians to shame. She loves her TV serials. She loves her cricket even if the match is between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. For the last four months, I wake up everyday to find a couple of missed calls and a few blank messages from her phone. My name is the first on her address book and she is yet to figure out how to use her phone. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up to those. Brings a smile on my face.



Paati has a flair for languages. She speaks Tamil, Telugu, Hindi & English with absolute ease. She picked up Telugu from her neighbor in Karakpur. This little girl who stayed next to her house would drop by her house everyday after Thaatha left for work. I still remember the day when I brought my friend home and my paati’s eyes lit up when she knew she spoke Telugu. For the next half an hour the two of them were at it and paati was in full form. Even now she keeps asking me when I would get that friend home again.

There is so much more to my Paati. I could talk about how she religiously gets up in the morning and finishes up the Sudoku from every News Paper. The way she meticulously draws the boxes onto a sheet of paper before she begins to solve the puzzle, the way she makes her thakkali (tomato) rasam, the way she walks around her garden every evening and plucks the jasmine flowers, the way she counts them and walks over to my house to talk to her daughter (my mom) and proudly tell her the count, or the way she calls my mom if she is not in town to tell her about the flowers, the way she sits right in front of the TV so that she could listen to the dialogues better, the way her skin feels all wrinkled and soft, the way she spends time with her grand kids, the way she talks proudly about her grand kids to others.

To my Paati- the most amazing woman I have ever met.

“Paati Mob”, the screen screamed and I knew this was the real thing and smiled. The call got disconnected in three rings, the time it takes for my Paati to realize her mistake and cut the call.

24 comments:

Coconut Chutney said...

awww :)

Rajeshwari Ganesan Iyer said...

This post made me want to get closer to my Ammamma... Thanks Arvind!

aparna said...

I think there is something amazing about their generation. I have only memories, to which I hold on to tight. Paati ku hugs!!

arvindiyer said...

@ Coconut Chutney

Thank you:) Tickled the right spots I see.

arvindiyer said...

@ Rajeshwari

You're most welcome. Go on now and get closer to your Ammamma:)

arvindiyer said...

@ Aparna

There is a lot to that generation. Some of them are just mind blowing while others are well not for the faint hearted. Hold on to those memories all the time kanna. They are worth sooooo much more. Shall pass on the hugs:)

Nivedita said...

I'm so proud of your grandmother for having the courage to face up to the challenges of a mobile phone. My grandfather is so very afraid of his cell, he runs about the house with the cell in his hand begging anyone to pick it up.We got him the flippy kind so that he doesnt have to actually pick up the call, but after he flips it open he stares at the screen for a long time trying to figure out which number the call came from until the caller gets tired of waiting for a 'hello'. He gave it up after a BP check up.It's made him quite paranoid about the tv remote, he keeps putting up the volume to ear spltting levels instead of changing the channels :\
It's upsetting to see those people of the bygone days struggle to adjust to what we made our society to be. I'm so hostile to change, I simply cannot imagine what they must be going through.
I've tried to write something like this so many times. But I just can't write about people. There's too much material, too many hot scadling memories, too many things taken for granted. It was scary when I realised how much of me these people hold.
I talk entirely too much for anyones good :\

arvindiyer said...

@ Nivedita

Your grandfather sounds so much like my Dad! It's not just people from the bygone days, its also very current:) Writing about people sure comes with a catch. There is so much more about my Paati that I could write about. It just never ends. She is, like I had mentioned one of the most amazing person I have ever met. I see a lot of me in her too. Guess its only natural:)

You can continue talking as much as you want, this place is yours as much as it is mine!

Ganesh Jeyaraman said...

wow! Great post Arvind :)

arvindiyer said...

@ Ganesh Jeyaraman

Thank you and welcome to my blog!

Meena Venkataraman said...

Wow! :))
Thoroughly enjoyed this one!

arvindiyer said...

@ Meena

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this one too:) Thank you.

RukmaniRam said...

ooh. nice. paati odes. theyre the bestest arent they?

arvindiyer said...

@ Rukmaniram

Oh~ Yes. They are the bestest:)Long time. How have you been?

craving to love life said...

it's not everyone who enjoy the affection and talk so highly abt their paati....many of the new age metro-ites meet their paati 1s or 2s a year these days...

Zeph Keyes said...

Awww.... NAICE.. haven't been here in a while.. and this reminded me why i used to, in the first place :)

arvindiyer said...

@ Craving to love life

The times they are a changing :)

arvindiyer said...

@ Zeph Keyes

Thank you very much :) Wonderful to see you back too.

me said...

looooong time :)
enjoyed reading again :)

LighTninG CraShes` said...

Hi there,
Glad to see an old blogger around and still going strong. Enjoyed your post.
Keep blogging...
LC

arvindiyer said...

@ Me

Welcome back and glad you enjoyed reading:)

arvindiyer said...

@ LC

I don't think I could stop. But wouldn't call going strong too. Would like it if the old lot returned too :)

Moo said...

What a lovely post, Arvind. :) I've never seen a single grandparent, and this post only makes me realise what I've missed. :(

Really nice. :)

arvindiyer said...

@ Moo

Welcome to the blog and thanks a lot for the comment. She's been single for the last 7 years. But then again, wouldn't really say she is single. What with 7 children, 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren :)