Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Badass...

In some ways, he was probably the original 'badass'.  Many people knew of his rather formidable exterior - tough boss, a perfectionist, an ace pilot with an impressive accident-free record of flying 60 different types of aircraft, never minced his words and called a spade a spade, loved great cars and single malt whisky and the good life. But to Shanu and me - Parvez Khokhar was someone we had wrapped around our little fingers and in his eyes we could do no wrong.  Even badasses have soft and silly sides :) He could do some really ridiculous things that years later still make us laugh...

A few years ago when I left VisitBritain, I tagged along with my mom and dad to Europe. A bit old to be sponging off them on a holiday, but I did so shamelessly!  I traveled economy, while they were in business class (inspite of them trying to convince me to let them buy me a business class seat, but my
shamelessness did have some limits :).  I still remember being interrupted in the middle of a movie
by the air hostess who said that my dad had sent her over to keep an eye on me and make sure that I was taken care of. I shook my head and thanked her and silently hoped she wouldn't be back, but just as I settled in again there was PHK in the flesh bearing down on me, with horror of horrors, two boxes of chocolates! The people sitting next to me were very amused as my dad chose to explain what he had got me and insisted I eat the chocolate immediately. I said I didn't want to, he asked why, I said I wasn't hungry, he said there was always room for chocolate, I said now wasn't one of those times, he said ok and hoped the air hostess had come over to check on me and he would send her back later.  I started eating the chocolate out of nervous embarrassment and contemplated jumping out of the emergency exit. There were more visits - by my mother, the air hostess and my dad (my co-passengers knew the lot by then, greeting them when they came over!). We had a stop over where I went to the cattle class terminal and they were
whisked away to a business class
lounge, but sure enough my phone
rang while I was waiting and PHK's voice instructed me to eat whatever I wanted and he would be reimbursing me, and I was also to check my itemized mobile bill after the trip so he could pay for the call he was
making to me at that moment! We
argued a bit about eating and not eating and me having money and children never paying and I finally ate because I was stressed out after
the conversation because I
apparently was too poor to buy myself a sandwich!  Paris was lovely - we wined and dined and roamed around.  My dad even got to practice his limited French one evening at our hotel. He had given some clothes for a laundry service and there was one item of clothing left - his boxer briefs.  The polite young man from the laundry service was trying to understand my father saying "My underwear is missing, my boxers, my underwear."  When that didn't work, some rather strange gestures were made, which may have got him locked up under different circumstances. Still no luck - so he finally decided to try some French and said "My lingerie is missing, my lingerie!". My mother and I burst out laughing, while my dad looked disapprovingly at us ridiculing his French.  It seemed to work because the young man smiled and said "Oh you mean, le slip le slip", while my dad bellowed that was what he had been saying the whole time. He never did get "le slip" back, but I think they compensated rather generously for it with 30 euros or something!

Another silly thing which I will always remember about him is his hair - or rather how he fussed over it. He quite liked his hair and was quite vain about it.  But the secret to his nicely set mane was not all the potions and serums I spend a fortune on (and still have way too many bad hair days), but a ridiculous little knitted pinkish-purple beanie! As far back as I can remember, he would come out of the shower with his hair washed and wearing his purple fluffy beanie to "set" his hair.  He would then carefully iron his clothes, polish his shoes vigorously, moisturize his face and hands (we seem to have inherited a lot of Ponds Age Miracle!) and then once he was ready and about to leave the room, he would pull off the beanie and voila - a perfect head of hair!  That itty-bitty-bob-of-a-thing worked better than anything I've ever tried!

He hadn't been horse riding in a while, but he was an accomplished equestrian and rode often,
particularly in Wellington during his Staff College days.  Being his daughters, it would have been inconceivable for him to not have us learn. So we did, with all the other kids, and while the adults cantered and galloped and hunted, we were in the equivalent of the baby pool splashing around.  We would sedately do figure 8s and go around in a circle with the 'saab' instructing us on how to sit properly and how to pull the reins correctly and how to offer the horse a lump of sugar without getting our hand bitten off.  Once I was placed on a rather feisty horse with a very apt name - Sheeba!  She decided, quite correctly, that I was no match for her and tore off with me - a shrieking 7 year old on her back.  In retrospect, she was possibly just trotting but at 7 the world does seem much faster paced!  It was one of the days (unfortunately) that my dad had come to watch us and there I was shrieking for him while Sheeba and I streaked past.  He looked most disapproving and instead of being overly helpful he yelled for me to stop sitting like a "sack of potatoes" and pull myself together.  It was too late however as by then I had slid off Sheeba's back in slow motion and lay slumped on the grass like said sack of potatoes, unhurt but with a bruised ego.  He helped me up and dusted me off and told me to get back on.  We didn't ride much after that so we got nowhere close to how good he was, but waking up in the cold in Wellington with him and wrapping the putty around our legs and pulling on our riding boots was one of the fondest memories I have of Wellington and time well spent with him.

There were so many other little things - we did tons of road trips in our silver Volkswagen Golf, the longest and most memorable one being 5 days from Wellington to Tezpur.  But the ones from Bangalore to Wellington always stick in my mind because we would go tearing down those hair pin bends, feeling terribly car sick (he hated stopping so we were always well equipped!) and singing "Papa Don't Preach" loudly; doing the Jane Fonda workout with him when I was all of 5 and using the dining room chairs for support with all the exercises to get stronger thighs (my dad was also obsessed with his legs - claiming he had the best legs in the family!); of him coming to my dance classes and embarrassing me by telling my instructor that I was the best dancer he had ever seen and I inherited my great dancing genes from him and then horror of horrors, demonstrating a ghastly jig! In Bareilly, he went out in the sweltering afternoon heat just so he could get me a bicycle I had been clamoring for, only to come back and discover I had no intention of riding it and he then had to push me around on the new bike!  When some of my friends were taking a little longer to get ready at my wedding and he was waiting impatiently for everyone to get into the coach, he messaged me "You told me the party was at 1900 hrs. It is now 1905 and your friends are late!"

So he may be the original badass, but at home he was just our silly ol' dad.  I'd like to think he is zooming around in glee somewhere, disturbing the peace of the skies and knocking poor little cherubs off the clouds - that's all I wish for him :) Fair winds wherever you shall fly papa...

10 Things I'll miss about him

1) His terrible one legged dance, with a clap thrown in now and then, and a weird shuffle if ever "Another Brick on the Wall" was played!

2) Strange nicknames for us "Shanu boo", "Reemzy boo" "Goosy cat" "Reem K and Shaheen K"(always said together!)

3) The dirty looks he gave us if we ever ate food with our hands!

4) Tears streaming down his face while watching Govinda movies - he thought Govinda was hilarious!

5) His obsession with Rishan, my nephew, who looks so much like him and running around everyday to buy Magnum for his demanding grandchildren (and daughters!)

6) His aviators (has had the same pair throughout as far as I remember) which he wore come rain or
shine!

7) "Is there anything sweet to eat" after any meal and then eating a spoon of jam if he didn't find anything!

8) "Have you washed your face?" or "Have you combed your hair" and even if you said yes he would quietly hand you his little comb or in the case of Rishan start combing his hair frantically!

9) Eating even the worst brownies only because we had baked them!

10) Yelling "conquer the chairs" if we had to look for a place to sit at a restaurant or anywhere with limited seating

And 11 (one for luck!) - Always enquiring after my two mongrels - Mia and Molly. How are the Rhodesians doing (Asian dogs from the road!)?

#ParvezKhokhar #Badass #GreatDads #Fathers