Taxonomy Of Dadies
by Ramesh Mahadevan
Suddenly they are everywhere. Like the tulips which specially bloom in spring. I am talking about the droves of Desi dads who suddenly descend down upon this country in spring. It is believed that two minutes after the groundhog comes out of its burrow and declares the winter is over, the Desi travel agents also come out of their hell holes and book away tickets for all the Desi dads, causing a tremendous shortage of dads in India.
And yes, they are everywhere. On the streets strolling, inside the KMart memorizing the price of items, sitting in the front row of Indian Association functions. If you don't watch out, you are liable to trip over one of them. Before you realize it, they have already stuck their hand into yours and are shaking it and asking you deeply personal questions like what is your dad's name. It is estimated that if all the visiting Desi dads and moms are stacked up in one place, they would easily occupy the entire state of New Jersey. In fact, it is widely conceded that the entire state of New Jersey is indeed populated only by visiting Desi dads and moms.
What is the proper behavior in front of Desi dads ? What kind of beasts are they ? Why are they here ? Whose dads are they anyway ? These are common questions that arise in every nettor's mind. Fret not. This little guide will walk you through the messy world of dads and help you identify the various flavors they come in. Remember - we are not trying to categorize every single Desi dad in the world, but only a small subset. Our own dads, who are so dear to us, are obvious exceptions to these attempts at typecasting. And one day, when we all become dads, we will be nothing like these stereotypes either.
(1) Interactive, 'painful' dad
"I have been to Howston, Tuxon, Oheeeyo and SFO" he would tell you, even if he has only been through the airports in those places.
He always teases little children, big women and old graduate students. And he is also liable to give you a hug or otherwise physically constrain you when you least expect it. (The simplest way to escape his choke-hold is to tickle him gently in the third rib)
(2) 'Ex-IAS' dad
"I know Minister Bhayya Lal so well" he would tell you categorically, trying to impress you ". In fact, I even knew Minister Harindranath Gupta very well." Since you have no idea who these inconsequential politicos were, he would sense your IIT-bred ignorance of Indian scene and present you with a complete biography of these ministers, emphasizing that they were true Gandhians, besides being Vedantics and homeopaths. He also has a bagful of nutty IAS stories like how Rajiv Gandhi used to own a pet skunk.
He is so perceptive he would give a lecture condemning the Western Civilization to whoever that cares to listen and burst into a sanskrit sloka for emphasis, all at the drop of a hat.
(3)'Trying to be cool' dad
He would casually make himself a drink and sip it with the coolness of a graduate student. Occassionally he would even sneak out for a smoke, usually via a smelly pipe. He already knows everything about this country and when his wife is away from his earshot he would even wink at you and ask "How is the 'babe scene' these days ?"
(4) Comatose, user-unfriendly dad
If you really want to interact with him, start by gently hitting him on the head first. (Be careful, though. Your friend - whose dad he is - might object to this, even though you are merely doing a sanity check) About once every hour or so he would grunt, which is an indication that he is going to talk in the next half an hour. When he actually opens his mouth and utters something, only his wife will pick up the words and say it aloud five times for the benefit of others.
(5) The 'kharra' village dad
They are also very dependent on their wives. Without the wife around, they can't even figure which end of the banana to start peeling. And (according to a friend of mine), on some occassions they would eat fruits and spit out the seeds and give them to the wife to put in the trash.
The only thing about America that impresses him is the multitude of Desi temples that his son takes him to - where, if not given to him in the first place, he would demand and obtain the prasad.
(6) Your cousin's dad (a. k. a your 'Uncle')
He also has a bagful of tales - except that his tales would be always about his kids and grandkids. Usually they are about how his son made him proud by becoming the president of the local Tamil Association and how his grand daughter recited the entire 'Baa baa black sheep' on stage in the India Association Basant Bahar function. When in front of him, make sure you smile a lot, talk very little and play the music real loud.
FAVORITE THINGS - A true 'pop' song for all visiting dads
(sung to the tune of 'Favorite things'. Well, sort of.)
Buckets in bathtubs and
The weather Channel and
Desi parties with
When the plane leaves
I simply remember my favorite things
Copyright Ramesh Mahadevan