I often ask people close to me: “If someone tapped you on the shoulder when we first met and said that, so many years later, your life would turn out the way it is today, how would you react?”
And often, the answer is a simple: “I would tell that someone that they were bonkers.”
It results in a little laughter, and some reminiscing.
My mum has recounted the story of how she met my father numerous times. My father doesn’t come off as particularly prepossessing in her account, so he tended to interrupt a lot, and argue the details. Knowing his comedic penchant, I disregarded all these additions.
It is a simple enough story though. My mum was the Personnel Manager of Holiday Inn Mumbai, before the hotel opened. They were still in the construction phase of things, and they were interviewing people for the restaurants. My father had just returned from a working stint in Germany, and had come to the hotel on the recommendation of one of the managers.
Being in charge of personnel, my mother coordinated the interview, and later the documentation. My mother’s first impression of my father was that he was very snooty and stuck up, because when she tried to make small talk, he didn’t respond.
Both my parents are ace hoteliers, but very different kinds. My father is the outgoing, fun-loving type, one associates with sales and food and beverage. My mother is the policy and administration type, with a knack of controls and processes. On the surface they couldn’t be more different.
I should also perhaps mention that my father was exceedingly handsome; something that didn’t wane the slightest with age. My mother was also beautiful, but was completely oblivious to the fact. (As I was growing up, she used to tell me that she was glad I took after my father, because she wasn’t pretty. *sigh*)
Girls threw themselves at my father, whereas my mother was the prude. Well, not a prude exactly, but she kind of radiates purity. In my father’s words: “I knew I couldn’t mess around with this one.” So he flirted with all the other females in the hotel, and finally fixated on my mother.
They did become friends, and my father pursued my mother quite a bit. She, being naive in these matters, was oblivious to it all. She later told me that, since every girl sought him, it didn’t cross her mind once that he was interested in her. He once took her to the kitchen, and introduced her as his wife. The chef responded: “Sundaram (our surname), you bring a new girl every day and announce her as your wife!”
My mother, not to be outdone, also retorts: “Sundaram, if you were the last man on earth, I wouldn’t marry you. A girl would have to be insane to marry you!”
40 years later, here we are. Famous last words, eh mum?