Tuesday, May 02, 2006
He has this habit of arranging and cleaning everything that is in his line of vision. 1.7 nano seconds after I landed, he folded all my clothes put them in a wardrobe, he had earmarked for me (which he 'earmarked' 0.78 nanoseconds after I booked my ticket). He kept the suitcase on the shelf above and told me thrice that he had done all the above. He took me and showed the suitcase perched atop the shelf. There is this chronic clean-at-sight disease that he has got and a near paranoid aversion to things lying on the floor.
Once my 70 year old aunt was talking to my other 76 year old aunt. Both were sitting on the floor. Given the way old people move like dinousaurs - slow and almost immobile - my dad in his cleaning spree folded them and arranged them in the book shelf. 2 hours later my mom found two old ladies in the book shelf with confused look on their faces. (Ofcourse! I jest)
He takes pride in folding back 'The Hindu' newspaper exactly the way it was dropped in the morning with supplements in the right order. I remember he shouted "yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii" when some guests had come home for lunch. After the commotion cleared, we found out that one of the guests had sat on the couch with his leg touching the couch. For example last week, a bunch of people had come to visit us. There was this kid who was given tiffin and so the kids hands became oily after that. That was enough for my dad to fix his eyes on the kid like a tractor beam. Wherever the kid went, he would go and intercept the kid's hands seconds before it touches the couch or the wall. He did not focus on talking to the guests at all.
I guess when you have reached a certain age, you begin to follow Seinfeld's driveway backup theory. People think "I am old, I have produced children. If I can create other human beings, I can do anything". And he does things which I wouldn't have the guts to do in my age (but! OMG have I wanted to do those things?) Take these anecdotes for example;
His aversion to people making munching noises when they eat is almost hilarious. Needless to mention people spilling food around the plate. We have a horrible time managing guests who make noise, while they eat. Once in a restaurant we had a next-table-guy spilling food and making munching noises. He made me sit opposite to him and yelled the choiciest expletives at me for spilling food and making noises. I do spill food outside my plate, but in that instance there was no plate in front of me. I wasn't even eating. Next time you see him yelling at me for making munching noises - its not me, its you.
Immediately after my marriage, my wife had a 7-volume book presented by my father on the idiosyncrasies of the house and the rationale behind arranging things they way they were arranged. She attended several workshops which elucidated why I was a moron, why I wasn't getting my father's way of arranging things and how she should go about baptizing me. Speaking of religion, it is funny how he enjoys ripping apart different religion. I have seen several semi-atheists in my life but he takes the cake. From semi-bearded road-spitting aiyyappa bhaktas to road-blocking temples to noisy-on-sunday-morning jesus christ CSI churches to Allah - everbody irritates him. Whats eye-popping is that he is vocal about his thoughts about them. He makes sure they know what he thinks of people, who pause a moment to pray to a middle-of-the-road-temple-deity. Scary sometimes.
A call center guy called him regarding his credit card. Apparently, the fellow put on a fake accent and began talking in amrikkan ishtyle. This irritated my dad, who quickly claimed that he was a villager and that he could not understand anything this guy spoke. So my dad asked that fellow to talk regular English or switch to Tamizh. The guy apparently insisted on using his stylized English. Soon, my dad began to yell at that guy and claimed that he did not understand whatever was being spoken and that the stuff coming out of the call-center-guy's mouth was not English at all. Two minutes later my dad began to parse every sentence that came out from the other end and began to correct the call-center fellow's English. Apparently the call-center dude wasn't up to scratch with his English. After every correction my dad reminded him that his English was bad and that he was better off talking in Tamil. Finally the guy broke down and switched to Tamizh. This really got me thinking - what if the call center guy really called a villager who did not know English. Is this whole 'modernization' thing only relevant to the educated?
My dad also calls up people and yells at them over the phone. Once he called up somebody and their 5 year-old kid picked up. Now I really hate parents allowing children to pick up the phone. Its almost useless to let them do it and in case of emergencies it can be really dangerous. Overall I know it is an irritating experience whereby yuou call up and some idiot kid picks up the phone, and you have to repeat everything 5 times and still be not sure if the kid was doodling or listening to you. But I wouldn't say that to those parents - reason: courtesy. But I guess dads are different creatures, he just let go at the kid and when the kid handed over the phone to her mom, he let go at the mom too. I was thinking -"I always wanted to do that - I always wanted to take a hammer and ram it into the idiot parents heads and make them say - phone is not a toy it should not be used by children".
Take this I-always-wanted-to-do-it-but-he-did-it kind of a situation, for instance. A person came to meet my dad and the person was a slow-talker. Unlike Seinfeld's slow-talker, this person took 2 hours to say 4 words. My dad was extremely busy that day and he had to leave to a meeting that he simply could not miss. The person would start with "theeee" and almost never complete it. He was like the Tree Ent from LOTR. The Vajpayee-like people who took a long time to say things and who said things for a long time. In what almost took me down from the couch and got me rolling on the floor, my dad, it seems, told the guy "you please write whatever you want to say and give it to me this evening" and walked away.
I always wanted to do that.