Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Note about Gopal Tata

The last time I was given a chance to speak about my Tata a year ago at his book release, I embarrassed myself. Not because I didn't speak well but because I didn't do justice to my Tata when was I speaking about him. I hope I can change that a little bit here.

Yes, I lost my grand father yesterday. He was 94. Often when you think of a person who is 94 years old, you imagine him to be in a hospital and in a bed all the time. But Tata was different, he was up and walking till the day before and spent just one single day in the hospital. If it was left to him, he wouldnt have wanted to spend that single day in hospital as well. You might not believe it but Tata used to travel from Mysore to Bangalore till recently all by himself. All of us in the family often begged him not to travel alone but he never liked to be dependent on others.However, there were so many of us dependent on him!

Going back several years, my first recollection of Tata is that of him carrying both Shreesha (my cousin) and I in his two hands. That photo is priceless. During every summer vacation to Nanjangud, we cousins used to meet at Tata's house and spend so much time together. Tata used to pamper us with figs and panerLes. If you havent heard of the second fruit, dont worry, not many have. I guess that's why Tata used to make it a point to bring it to all of us! Till about a few years, he used to carry mangoes all the way from Mysore to Bangalore and give it to us. Till recently, he used to get pure ghee made in Mysore and carry it all the way to Bangalore. He enjoyed pampering all of us all the time!

His networking skills with people from all age groups were unbelievable. He had friends everywhere. He never had issues about being "Doddavaru" in the family and never took offence if we had a light conversation with him. No matter what place we went to he used to find someone he knew. I used to wonder always how that was possible and then realised that people he had met before never forgot him as well because of the warmth he would have shown and the respect he commanded. I personally took a lot of liberty with him, more than any of my cousins I guess. I used to call him by name and often teased him about things that irritated him. He used to complain to Kanchan asking her to change me so that I show him some respect. When I continued to be myself with him, he often told Kanchan that she hasn't been able to change me even after marriage :)
Few incidents I can think of that, Tata and I are watching a movie at home and Amitabh Bacchan is on. He asks me who's acting in it and I say Prithvi Raj Kapoor! He knows very well that AB is on but just wants a crooked answer from me and we both laugh together. But guess what, Tata was not the one to sit quiet, he often teased me as well about various things and chuckled with mischief in his eyes. I can never forget that mischief and smile.

Another interesting thing about him was his amazing memory. In the time and age of mobile phones where we only remember a handful of phone numbers he dialled every number without opening his diary. He could remember dates and often took us back several years with his interesting anecdotes. Another incident I think is Kanchan and I studied our masters in a town called Lancaster in Northern England. I had told Tata about the location before I left. A year later, I told him I had completed my course and shifted to London to hunt for a job. He then said... "Oh you moved from Lancaster and came south is it?" I was spellbound! I probably wont remember 20 years from now where I studied and he at 92 could.

A note about Tata is incomplete if I dont talk about how selfless he was in his life. In a biography that my dad released last year, there are so many articles about how Tata helped people. He was either getting them admissions to colleges, making career choices for a few or supported other family members in their time of need and arranged every possible wedding ceremony. That's how he spent all his life. He was there when my dad was in the hospital for his minor surgeries, he was there for my mum when she was sick and guess what he was in his 80s then. Never imagined him to be on the other side in the hospital ever. Not once did he complain that he was doing things for people and never did he take credit for it as well. If I look around in the family now, I see my mum as being the one that has his nature the most. I hope I get some of that selfless nature myself!

What have we learnt from him over the years? Well, come to think of it now... many things. He was so disciplined and punctual. He has clean habits and led a simple life. He never overtly focused on money. He spent what he had on his loved ones and never asked for anything from his sons, daughters or grand children. He had tough life but not once did he mention it but just told us interesting stories about it.

The last couple of times I have been in Bangalore for vacation and when I am ready to leave home to come back to UK, I used to think about if I would see Tata again. Age was catching up with him and that was reality. Never thought it would be yesterday. I guess none of us would ever be ready. Sitting here in London, I am glad most of the family members were with him and could meet him one last time.He would have wanted that. On several occasions, I have often said a prayer to myself to give my loved ones success, my parents good health and my Tata, a peaceful death whenever that happened. Because that was something he truly deserved after such a truly great life. Dont know how this void can be filled in our lives but it is good to know that he has overseen each of us becoming successful in our respective careers and lives. We have a great and loving family and I am sure he will be proud of us. Rest is peace, Tata. I will miss you for sure.

1 comment:

Srinivas said...

Nice blog Vicky. Do we ever find a man who would help even his detractors? He was there to extend his hand whenever one was in distress. The void remains for ever unfilled.