Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Dad's Birth Centenary

February 13, 1911 -- February 13, 2011: as this is a special birth date for my father, K. V. Padmanabhan, I thought I'd post a few photographs. We're all sensitive these days about what part of the shared record is made available on-line, so I've confined myself to just these four. The first is of my Dad and me as a baby, most likely taken in Bangalore just before we left for Sweden in 1953-4 (not sure of dates! Will amend when I've checked); the next is of both my parents and me, in Thailand, circa 1965, when I was 12; the next is of Dad with the man he called with great affection and warm reverence, "Panditji" -- I'm guessing it was taken while we were in Karachi, circa 1959-60; the last is of Dad with (not sure what kinds of titles are appropriate so I'm not attempting the name) the King of Thailand, most likely in the first year we were there, 1964.

There's a great deal I could say about Dad's illustrious career, his journey from tiny, French-speaking Mahé in Kerala to representing India as Ambassador to Thailand and Iran. But all that matters is that he was a wonderful Dad. He was good, kind and scrupulously honest, with a strong sense of humour. He collected comic strips and stamps in his youth and always enjoyed doing puzzles. I can remember, for instance, him glueing together a crystal vase that had shattered in transit -- it would never look all right, but he did it for the pleasure of the challenge.


Jabberwock said...

Lovely post! These days, with people putting up a few hundred photos of themselves on Facebook and suchlike every week, it becomes increasingly urgent to hold on to old pictures like these.

I see a strong family resemblance, by the way.

marginalien said...

Yes, I agree about the photographs. They're composed differently, aren't they? No doubt because of the need to be conservative with film and to save on processing/printing costs, everyone who used a camera took a great deal of care over each separate image.

I am sure we've all got stacks of family albums which we rarely look at any more. But I began scanning some of these a while back and really enjoy looking at them. For my mother's 90th birthday celebration, my sisters and I put up an informal "show" (just in the corridor outside her bedroom) of photographs from the past -- photocopies, i.e. -- and it was like a mini-documentary of her life!

And yes ... the resemblance has been noted ... LOL

Anonymous said...

truly incredible how much you looked like you!! gt

marginalien said...

Errm ... gt ... I hate to bring this up, but when we were buddies back in them thar days, I was praps 15 years plus the age I was in that pixcher! Or maybe you meant the BABY version? Heh. Beginning to look quite a bit like THAT now. Hairless & grinning insanely!

Anonymous said...

joking aside - i have really started to think that my philosophy is to be summed up as trying to be as close to the state i was born as day 1 of babydom - "physically" to be as flexible as a child and "mentally" too to be as empty as one with no opinions, no desires... breathing in, breathing out from om to om. gt

Paul said...

Tell us more about them Thar days of yours,gt and mnjula, I have oten been intrigued by these references of yours to a past commonly shared!

Did you /do you really think the man ought to have been reverently referred to as "Paditji"? What was his realm of "Panditdom"?

marginalien said...

gt: "from om to om" -- I like that. I think I can see what you mean about wanting to maintain that freshness, that quality of tabula rasa of a newborn, even as an adult. I can remember that moment of absolute wonder, the first time I saw a full moon rising ... and all the adults around me were amused and indulgent, having seen so many, in the course of their lives. But I don't think I am capable of that detachment. Not today, anyway. Maybe tomorrow ...?

Paul, them thar days were the 80s, when I lived as a paying guest in Churchgate, Bombay and was struggling survive as a journalist/cartoonist. Mostly making a mess of my life before deciding to shift the location of the mess to New Delhi & beyond. A small group of people I was friendly with in the 80s has remained in touch.

gt is the only one from those days who connects via this blog! I think it's for him to decide what, if anything, he wants to say about his years in Bombay.

Anonymous said...

whaat! its my turn? time to do my 'om work i guess....was just a pesky kid growing up in that metropolis (oh ya bal - what do you want to distort it to?). had the privilege of grabbing (figuratively of course) ms. mp's celestial mind now and then for several delightful years. i do consider myself a product of the city and can never change that (just like one can't change ones parents). i have often sneaked in dilip chitres ode to bombay - even here - so forgive me - as here it is again

By Dilip Chitre

I had promised you a poem before I died
Diamonds storming out of the blackness of a piano
Piece by piece I fall at my own dead feet
Releasing you like a concerto from my silence
I unfasten your bridges from my insistent bones
Free your railway lines from my desperate veins
Dismantle your crowded tenements and meditating machines
Remove your temples and brothels pinned in my skull

You go out of me in a pure spiral of stars
A funeral progressing towards the end of time
Innumerable petals of flame undress your dark
Continuous stem of growing

I walk out of murders and riots
I fall out of smouldering biographies
I sleep on a bed of burning languages
Sending you up in your essential fire and smoke
Piece by piece at my own feet I fall
Diamonds storm out of a black piano

Once I promised you an epic
And now you have robbed me
You have reduced me to rubble
This concerto ends


ps now paul - you do realise your penetrating insights are always cherished with relish in this blogland. give us a clue - whereforth commst thou?

Paul said...

May be a little layer, gt. And in bits and pieces. When one decides to be the high priest at the dissection of one's own soul, one needs to gather one's nerves.

Anonymous said...

The vastest things are those we may not learn.
We are not taught to die, nor to be born,
Nor how to burn
With love.
How pitiful is our enforced return
To those small things we are the masters of.

by mervyn peake - i was first turned on to him by ms. mp of course! anyway happy roosting paul - one day, maybe? gt