Sunday, 23 November 2008

Turned On by Sardars

A recent post by Santosh about a Sardarji’s valiant quest for Nestle yoghurt in Trivandrum transported me back to the Trivandrum of the ’70s where I grew up as a teenager and where my nephew D caused considerable embarrassment to his parents with his infatuation with Sardars.

Before you start doubting the sexual orientation of D, let me hasten to tell you he was hardly three years old at that time.

We lived close to the military camp and Sardars were a common sight. In the evenings, little D would watch with admiration when young Sikh military officers with the wives riding pillion, with one kid standing up in front and the other wedged between the parents, zoomed past in their scooters towards the city. “Sardarji!” he will yell gleefully and the look on his face at that time would be one of sheer beatitude.

Very soon young D learned role play. He will take a thin handloom towel (thorthu in Malayalam) and ask his mother to wrap it around his head. Since it was a small child’s face, the thorthu had to go round several times before the trailing edge could be tucked in, to D’s satisfaction. The imaginary beard in place, D would then seek out his father’s helmet (my brother rode a two wheeler those days) and place it on head. The helmet would come down to his forehead and almost cover his eyes and it was also quite heavy. D would then walk slowly and rather precariously towards his tricycle.

The tricycle, meanwhile, has been miraculously transformed into a scooter and our young hero could be seen for the next five minutes laboriously working the kick-starter. This again was an elaborate ritual where he muttered dark words of frustration, tilted the tri-cycle to the side a few times to flood the carburettor, and looked at his imaginary watch in dismay. Finally with a great roar, the scooter started and D climbed on it with much satisfaction and rode off at high speed, his small hands furiously mimicking the clutch and accelerator controls, while the entire family looked on in amused indulgence.

Then happens the incident at the supermarket.

My brother and sister-in-law are shopping for groceries with D in tow. He is his usual placid self until a Sardar walks into the supermarket and D loses it completely.

“Sardarji!” yells D and frees himself from his mother’s grasp. He runs to the Sardar and embraces him from behind and bites his bum for good measure, before the startled Sardar can even start to realise what is happening.

Frankly this final part I find hard to believe considering the difference in height between the Sardar and the three-year-old. It is quite possible my sister-in-law embellished the incident somewhat to enhance its recountability.

What the hell! It is still quite a good story and the family in its usual kind and considerate manner never fails to remind D of this incident at least once a year.

D’s response:-

The shopping story is true, though I don't recall biting the man. Another highlight was coming to Delhi for a wedding when I was around three and a half. Compared to Kerala, it was turban heaven, every conceivable colour you could think of.

Even last month, when I was up in Mohali covering a game, we were talking in the ABC commentary box about the colourful turbans and the effort it must take to tie one every morning. Not a task for those who wake up, jump in the shower and wolf down some breakfast before rushing to the stadium!

I don't think I've tried a turban since those long-ago days, but I do now live with a Sikh. After that kind of childhood and all those Sikh-and-ice cube jokes to rile a friend when I was in college, I guess it was almost inevitable that I'd end up with a Sardarni.

Nice description of me trying to start my bike. It was a pretty lengthy procedure and I'm often reminded of it when I watch my nephew repairing his bike
Image Courtesy:


Vijay said...

Ha ha... made my day..

Wonder how the Sardarji reacted to being "hugged" from behind (and allegedly bitten)...

I love the part about tilting the scooter...and looking at the watch.. very good observations..

Anonymous said...

Wonderful observations! And yes - this is almost urban legend in our family now and like all good ones, its been through its share of embellishments!:-)

premc said...

It is true that he hugged the Sardarji from behind abd stroked his bum, but he did not bite his bum. He was full of reverence for the sardarji

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Heheh. That is cute. What was the sardars version? Must have been fascinating to see that much color in the dry climes of trivandrum eh?

Loved the bit about the biker dude. I had an anecdote as boyfriend ( the then 2 1/2 year nephew of my friend) decided to romance me in a similiar fashion. however since he didnt have a tricycle he just plonked a pillow, made me sit down pillion and then took me to see the sights of the city ( viz the ice cream parlours names - all coincidentally in the periphery of the bed ). best date i have ever been on come to think of it

Rada said...

@Vijay: Unfortunately the trauma underwent by the Sardarji has not been recorded in the family chronicles!
@Shalini: Like all good families, ours has also its share of "urban legends" and thank God for that!
@Premc: Don't make it worse now, brother! Somehow stroking the bum sounds rather perverted. I would rather stick to the original version! :-)
@Cynic: I am constantly fascinated by the make-believe world children create around themselves. Somehow we seem to lose this faculty when we grow older! :-(

cris said...

Your nephew D must be a genius to have that kind of imagination as a 3 year old! But then all kids are at 3, I guess :-)

Australopithecus said...

When I was very very much younger,
we used to pass our time on the way to school by counting the number of sardars we saw. amazing how quickly the 40 minute ride went by.

Dileep said...

Never been described as a genius before. Laugh.

roop said...

haha loved the read. i remember my father tying a turban every morning before going to work even when he had his hair cut short. it just looked better. now that he is older, he doesn't do it anymore.

but yeah, imagine the work that goes into it everyday ... i wonder how they do it!! sure looks good though. husband wore it for wedding and his telugu self temporarily got inspired to be turbanated on a regular basis until i intervened. :p

Maddy said...

close to pangode? eh? we had a sikh as a class mate in school. it was fascinating watching him tie his turban or oiling his hair with mustard oil.

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.