Fathers, mothers and grandparents generally qualify as the most popular role-models. Husbands and wives too can be sitting in this chair for each other but after all, they are never doing anything without each other’s nudges, are they? So because everything done by spouses has a sort of equal participation, there never is that special aura or halo that a child would tend to see in his parents or grand-parents. Well, then there are those that one reads about in books and newspapers… and they always seem to be such good people to become role-models. But then, I know so little about them. I mean, what do I really know about the real Gandhi… except that he sat on interminable fasts and that he slept naked with women and yet managed to abstain from carnal sex, or that he was one of those who gave us what we call a free India. I would have ready quotes about him and the words that he spoke or wrote… but I think a role model is much more interactive than all this.
I think a real role model has nothing to do awe or age… it has everything to do with inspired interaction and how that person deals with daily triumphs and failures. This person has to someone you see and talk to in your daily life. Yes, it can always be that honest rag-picker who you met the other day and who had come running after you simply to give you your wallet that you had dropped accidentally on the road. Or what about that cab-driver who called you on your land-line number to tell you that you had left your expensive Galaxy S5 on the rear seat and that he has it safe with him. Yes, they all have the potential to be partial role-models… I mean they have done something praiseworthy that you too want to cultivate in your life, but you really do not know if they beat their wives at home or if they are vandals when all have gone asleep. What I mean is that you really need to know a person better than just one incident of a wallet being returned to declare him or her as your role-model.
So if I say that I know Pipi much more closely than I know anyone else in my life, would this person qualify as my role-model? I’ll tell you about a few things he did and those that I learned from him… and you decide if I right in calling Pipi my role model.
I remember Specky, my wife writing to me in 1995: ‘Pipi is excited to know that you’re going to be here in York with us again this year. He keeps saying: We are going to do explore computers together.’ Those were times when Pipi was in junior school and thought I knew everything anyone would ever want to know about computers. Whenever we were together, our discussion always went from here and there to bits and bytes… and then we walked together towards the UofY computer labs in the dead of night to sit and find our way through the maze that Windows 3.1 was then… or Pipi would simply show me his skills with ‘Paint’ or even the fact that he knew how to design a certificate on Corel WordPerfect. It was sometime then that we happened to go to Fishergate school to meet Ms Henderson, his teacher. She said, ‘Your son is our class computer wizard. Look, this certificate is designed by him. Whenever the class gets stuck on any computing problem, we call Pushkin.’ I was proud of Pipi… and it is such little triumphs that lay the foundation of someone who will slowly rise to become your role-model. I mean, look at this incident this way… here I am strutting around as my son’s role-model but the truth is that it is he who is slowly rising to that position. This is one small fact that many of us reluctant to admit.
Since those times, Pipi is the family wizard for any computing issue. He still is… in fact he is now our gadget advisor and has gone way beyond just technology. Let me give you an example from the current month. We are now in London, staying with him and his wife Monika who are both architects. Their home here is a design heaven… and I have always thought that I am better than many others when it comes to design issues. But stepping into his zone, my design sense hummed to me, ‘Listen buddy, learn from these youngsters. Pipi isn’t just your guru for your laptop and smartphones… there is much more to him.’ And there is, for sure. The other day he said, ‘You guys relax while Monika and I prepare our favourite Jamie Oliver inspired crispy grilled Salmon and salsa rice.’ There he was working in the kitchen cutting, washing, grilling, and garnishing a dinner for us with the expertise of a consummate chef! I watched him in silence, hypnotised by the way he went about in the kitchen… not a stumble and not one false move that was noticeable. The dish tasted perfect and I knew this was one thing that I was never comfortable with. See, I admit I have never gone beyond preparing that occasional boondi-raita or made orange coloured kheer or prepared the cottage-cheese mish-mash that we have for breakfast in Delhi. So Pipi inspired me to try my hand at cooking dishes that may sound difficult but as he said, ‘Follow the instructions of a chef and you’ll never go wrong.’ Pipi is the one who would sprinkle even salt in a very measured way… well, there is nothing empirical about his cooking.
Let us skip from technology and cooking to the world of physical fitness now. Pipi is now an accomplished hand at rowing, cycles to his office in London, jogs and encouraged us to participate in the 5 km RunHackney race here. And if we go back just a few years, you’ll probably see me egging him on to run just one more lap on the field at the Ashok Vihar DDA Sports Complex. He has adopted a healthy life-style and it is on seeing all this that even Specky and I have been discovering London on foot, walking kilometre after kilometre daily. Yes, this kind of physical energy does need the right sort of prodding by some role-model. And Pipi is our role-model who is eagerly trying to make us drop our fascination for junk food binges and get on to the salad bandwagon and other habits that make life more physically energising.
So a few days back I told Specky, ‘Pipi is now ready to be our role-model.’ Specky thought for a while and asked me my reasons. I told her all that I have written about so far, and she said, ‘I sense great harmony in the house here. Think about this. We are living in times when relationships get splattered with false egos and only those who manage their professional and personal zones can actually keep afloat.’ She is absolutely right and what we find here indeed is great harmony. ‘I think both Pipi and Tiddy are ready to be our role-models,’ I said. Tiddy is how Monika’s friends call her… and we are great friends now. This is really true… we look at the two of them and want to do everything the way they are doing, without seeming to be mere copy-cats. In fact, Pipi himself says, ‘An copied life isn’t necessarily an inspired life. We go and look at the wonderful creations of architects and then let those inspired works go in and work on our creative instincts. This is how something new gets born.’ Now, who could have put such a simple thing so well… yes, Pipi is indeed my role-model now.
PIPI: My Role Model… a video:
Pushkin in pictures:
30 June 2014