The first time I was a part of the “Hum Aapke Raincoat family”

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Tamilnadu, unfortunately isn’t exactly pro-hindi for many justifiable and not so justifiable reasons. I personally think it is a sorry state of affairs… Nevertheless the importance of Hindi on a national scale was well understood by my parents, who in the first of many more decisions in my life, chose my 2nd language in school to be our ‘National’ language without consulting me at all.

People who would be writing my biography in future would say that I took to Hindi like a fish to water. I gradually moved from Anaar, Aam to Ek gaon mein Ek kissaan raghu thatha with consummate ease. I don’t exactly know what triggered it, but my parents took yet another decision without my consent and put me into these Prathamic/Madhyama Hindi classes.(like the Trinity college exam for musicians)

Finding considerable success in Prathamic(1st level) exam gave me an unnecessary boost of self-confidence and I decided then and there to give all the exams in this series a shot…

Credit must be given where it is due. These classes did teach me to go to the local Pani Puri Bhaiya and ask him Paanch rupay me kitna piece/Zyaada aloo dalo/Sirf Pani Do and the like…

Coming back to the raincoat family(referring to any hindi speaking family… a wordplay on the famous movie Hum aapke hain kaun), this was the time when one of my favourite aunts was getting married… The marriage was in ‘North’ India and that time I was pretty determined to consider anything north of Karnataka/Amdhra Pradesh as North India

My first ever trip to North India meant a whole day and a half in the train which was pretty exciting… I had equipped myself with the new edition of Tinkle/Champak/Gokulam, my walkman with the latest cassettes and my still favourite train snack, ‘The Aavin Palkova’(Milk Khoa). My mom had packed the quintessential train saapadu- puli saadham, lemon saadham, chappathi and Oorka…(variety rices, roti and pickles)

Thus I embarked on a journey, playing Antakshari and Words building, looking out at the varying landscapes across India, pestering Appa to buy anything that comes from the Train Pantry, observing my fellow passengers who were so different from the people I encounter in Madras and gradually becoming a fan of Rahman to the Gujju Heartland.

I thought I could easily gel in with my extensive knowledge I gained by clearing my Prathamic exam…

Reality sucked on a different level altogether when I realised that people in Gujarat didn’t actually speak in the velocity my mind could comprehend and neither did it sound anything like hindi… So here I was in an alien land where my Appa suddenly chatters in a language that I never quite understood and Amma was speaking in a dialect of Tamil that took me a good few years to identify…

Faced with a linguistic barrier and my first ever cultural shock, I had to take solace with the one thing I understood and knew best—- FOOD.

Since I have always had an uncanny sense of experimentation with food, I ate anything and everything that came my way in various shapes, sizes, colours and varying degrees of hardness, whose names I learnt in due course and was also made famous by Kareena Kapoor in 3 Idiots. . . As always with most of my memories, tragedy struck at a highly inopportune moment

It could have probably been the copious amounts of Ice-cream or the unbelievable number of sweets I gobbled that put me down with a pretty high fever just a couple of days before Meri Aunt ki Shaadi…

Considering my medical history, my parents panicked and rushed me to one of the very few clinics that were open on that fateful Sunday…
The Doctor, then made the trademark ‘Doctor special Cheerful face’ before giving me the dreaded information that I shouldn’t have any spicy/sweet/sour food or in other words I had to be content with Porridge…

I was pretty distraught considering the appetite I was building up, to have food at a marriage that didn’t consist of the usual Saadham, Nei, Paruppu, sambar, rasam, poriyal, koottu etc…(south Indian food preparations)

Seeing all the delicacies in a better looking format and again in various shapes/sizes/colour/hardness was enough to make me sulk in a corner… The things that I had decided I wanted to do, even before I boarded the Navjeevan Express were all left incomplete… especially my wish to speak in Hindi and having a Shaadi ka Khaana rather than Kalyaana Saapadu…

As always Picture Abhi Baaki tha mere dost… Happys endings was just around the corner because something else occurred that I never saw coming…
Just because I went on a binge and had to cremate my taste buds for the next few days, I found my Amma doing the same just to not make me feel left out…

That was probably the time I started to realise what my parents were ready to do to keep me happy. As I grew up so did my lofty ideals and various things including movies, influenced the way I thought and acted with my parents… Though I am not quite famous for my temper, I was always the ‘angry young boy’ at home who did and said stuff that was not warranted and knowingly many a time hurt my family.

I am certainly not proud of what I did but I was just an average teenager so I am not going to beat myself for it… Looking back… that gesture by Amma triggered a bonding and various such sacrifices and support by Appa and Amma at probably every juncture of my existence cemented it… She was the one who taught me the joy of giving and the gratitude while accepting.. She was my first expert on caring, sharing, sacrifice and above all… LOVE… This makes me think that the first words I would have liked to say in Hindi to become a part of the Hum aapke Raincoat Family would have been

“Mere paas Maa… aur Paa Hai”

 

P.S. 
The first actual Hindi words I spoke with confidence and without being too conscious were … Well let’s just say they were not exactly parliamentary

 

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