People say that sport is a great leveler, I disagree! According to me, grandmothers are the greatest levelers. Who else has the nerve to call an expensive curved phone a defective piece?
My grandmother, maternal to be precise, born and brought up in the small beautiful town of Kollangode in Kerala, is a seventy-year-old dame. Sporting turtle-framed spectacles, long gray hair, white sari, wrinkled-but-beautiful skin, medium-sized temple and beautiful eyes. She definitely is a stunner at seventy. I can't help but imagine how envied my grandfather must have been in his days, on getting engaged to her. Use any adjective that is synonymic to beautiful and she would fit in.
I lose count of the number of courses I took while at home - from entrepreneurship to interior designing, from sarcasm engineering to story-telling, to Jugaad technology and more. After all, I've always been an high-flying student, what with an aggregate of 55 percent with an equivalent amount of KT.
I am sure you must be excited to know how this child prodigy pulled it off but be ascertained that I'll not let facts spoil the beautiful journey of this twenty-four-year-old genius. Ha! Just kidding! Well, that's how I did my Bachelor in Electronics and Communication Engineering - no surprises there.
Now the big question - why would a guy like me, not even knowing how to use the television remote properly, take up electronics? It was my mom - she made me believe no engineering degree implied no wedding bells - no girl would ever marry someone who wasn't an engineer. Still couldn't figure out the logic behind my mom marrying a high school drop-out.
Relatives had their roles too - they supported by saying that choosing Electronics & Communications would enable me to make a career both in hardware as well as software. But, of course, my college branded me a misfit and never bothered to shape me up.
With nothing much else to do, I chose to graduate from the University of life. Since my life was already so screwed - I'll pass on the f-word for now - the professor I called Grandma, was the only one available. Not only did she teach me all the courses, but also fed me at regular intervals. Most grandmothers are knowledgeable in a variety of fields and if you are as fortunate as me, she could be a banker to borrow money as well.
The entrepreneurship course comprised the exercise of watching her sell old newspaper piles and buying new plastic items from the salesman. Sustainability taught by using smaller cups when short on coffee and people to be served were more.
The course for interior designing was a bit scary. I learned this when she made a flower vase out of my hookah pot and placed it right in the center of the dining table with a feeling of accomplishment on her face. God was kind so my parents were out of town and unable to witness the development. The most important lesson, though, was to love every the small things I did - be it making a phone call or serving food - she enjoyed it every bit.
My mom once caught me red-handed while on a date with my then girlfriend. The drama started - endless crying, persuasion, mental conditioning and intimidation. I decided to talk to my grandmother telling her how serious I was about the girl and she just knew how to help me out.
My new found love guru called my mom and had only one thing to ask, "If he wouldn't fall in love now, when would he? After getting old like you?"
Mom hollered, "You don't know how to raise a child."
Mom should have known better than to argue with grandma, for at that very precise moment grandma - with her sheepish grin - delivered the sucker punch, "True! I'm overwhelmed with guilt every time I see you."
This was enough to keep my mom from meddling in my love life forever. This episode also made grandma more comfortable in sharing her own story with me - the love, the pain, the meals she had skipped, to feed her children. This made me realize how lucky I was, to have three meals a day.
Thirty-five years old and widowed, she had five young children to nurture. Most people would have sought help from relatives or made their children assist in earning bread. But not my grandma! She had the vision to provide quality education to her children, even though she herself made it past the second grade. My grandmother started her own food outlet at the age thirty-five, waking up at 4 AM in the morning to prepare food for the outlet, while getting her children ready for school early so that she could go and look after her business.
Management experts claim that managing finances is the toughest job for any start-up, and that happened to be her forte without having any business degree, or having ever read a single management book. Was she lucky? Was she street-smart? No one knows. More than a businesswoman, I'd call her an inspiring leader and a meticulous observer.
She loves cricket and used to watch all the 20-20 matches, telling me that the format was like a game of gambling, and it was better to pick players able to hold their nerves than those with excellent skills. MS Dhoni, the captain of the Chennai team, said the same thing few months later in a post-match interview. That gave me goosebumps!
After three years of her starting the business, things started looking up. With her dynamic personality and hard work, success couldn't be too far. More than the money, for her it was about giving her children a good education and getting them settled in life. Pulling off five Indian weddings was as tough as running the Kingfisher Airlines.
Be it the rhythmic snores, the curious glances at the smartphone, the way she steals away the candy box, the assurances she gives to my mother telling her that I was studying the whole day when all I did was watch a football while devouring her delicious "bhajjis" - I love it all. Maybe all grandmothers aren't so much fun. But, of course, they are all awesome in their own right.