It’s a pity I don’t have a picture from my childhood like this –
That’s pretty much how it started for me – my dad fixed up this (hand-me-down kids MTB from the US) bike which was in a deplorable state – and it went from purple and rusty to fire engine red and spiffy.
With the new cycle, off we went to the tree lined streets of his office campus and he ran behind me as I tried figuring out to balance the bike. He let me ride by myself for a few moments at a time, telling me when he was going to let go and when he had the bike again. He has felt anxious countless times when I cycled to dance class, to school, to buy groceries… and certainly so in more recent times, but he never lets it show.
Cut to 32 odd years later, Dad started saying how he would enjoy having a ‘good’ cycle. The store is a stone’s throw away from home and Dad has been in and out of here too frequently. So, one day, he came in as customer. And he walked off with a fire engine red Fuji MTB. He teetered off on the bike, with the unfamiliarly high saddle height… and I stood at the gate watching him go, trying not to feel anxious.
Funny, how life comes a full circle.
Having an outdoorsy, sporty dad is the best deal in town! Or so I think. Mine has played Badminton and Table Tennis pretty much all of his life.
He is 67 years old this week, he cycles to his club, plays for a couple of hours, cycles back. No rest days, no excuses, no “I’m tired today”… He has 2 stents in his heart from an angioplasty last year – all that seems to have come out of that exercise is even more chutzpah!
And that is a big reason why it is normal for me to spend my Sunday morning crewing for my cyclist pals at the BBCh Nandi race this morning and head for a run when the sun comes down in a couple of hours. And normal for my brother to be running the Everest challenge with his team at the Skyscraper dash at the same time. And perfectly okay for him to do this during work –
And anyone who says, “It made sense to be an outdoorsy dad back in the day.. with the kind of pressures on time these days…”, please meet –
the 150 cyclists from BBCh this morning – Â 25% of the bunch would be dads? A couple that come to my mind, first blush are Arvind and Sathya, whom I ran into at the race. Add the few hundred running dads who have been posting pics from this morning’s runs with half a dozen running groups out there.
Oh… and another one of my favourite dads –
Pavan not only takes his daughter on dad-daughter cycle rides… to Mysore, so she can get used to riding on the road without fear of traffic, he occasionally brings her to the store, so sheÂ understands his work.
And he doesn’t just stop being paternal with Anisha – from piggyback rides to Riyaz to inciting rebellion in the store against being grown up, to gentling someone into understanding or accepting an idea or a thought, this one is universal papa!
Dads, I think, are the first leaders we meet. We do not do as they say but do as they do. Or, in Umberto Eco’s more eloquent words –
â€œI believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.â€
So, thanks dad, for the love for fresh air, the need to be busy, for enjoying muscles aching from exercise, for the love for cycling and laughing a lot.
(And that’s how you spend time at the store when the Yajamaans have taken off for a brief post race respite)