My journey with him is akin to sitting under a Bodhi tree

Aug 26, 2017 - By Khushnu Panthaki Hoof

My Dada, as I call my grandfather, is the person with a tremendous impact on my life. The bond we share is like no other. Since childhood, I always expressed myself better by writing letters to him, and in return, he would always write back to me. Today, these letters are my treasures–lessons for life.

From making a tent for us out of a fabric resembling the paintings of Henri Rousseau for my sister and me to play in, to introducing us to books by Leo Lionni at an early age–Dada left a deep impression on us.

Growing up, summer vacations were always spent at my grandparents place in Ahmedabad. Carmina Burana, Bhimsen Joshi, Ravi Shankar, Kumar Gandharva and a plethora of music always played in the background. I remember travelling with him to Italy when I was 13 and he made us walk from one end of the city to the other all the while engaging us with stories and giving us hope, pointing toward the dome and making us believe that St. Peters was just a few minutes away (in reality it took us more than 2 hours to reach).

He would also make us walk from Sangath to home in the evening and each time our route would be different. This was his way of spending time with us and in a way, teaching us patience and the importance of not being afraid to explore and discover new paths.

While I studied at CEPT, I stayed with my grandparents and that is when I realised how important discipline was to him. I had started yoga lessons early morning and one day I skipped it. I can never forget that day: at the breakfast table he didn’t say a word to me; his silence hurt more than anything else. He believed that if you take up something, give it all you have and do it.

Later, when I started working with him on projects, he never imposed his ideas or principles on any of us. What he does for us even today is to expose us to varied forms of art, culture, literature so that we can learn and absorb whatever interests us. When in doubt, if I would ask him a question, he would never offer a solution; instead, he always prefers to pose a question and look at the problem from a different angle and in the process I would arrive at answers.

To be in touch with your inner instincts and never lose your urge to learn is something that I have learnt from him. He always tells us to keep dreaming no matter how crazy our dream is–imagine, visualise and follow your heart, but always stay true to yourself, stay grounded. He also emphasized the importance of looking at nature for inspiration and answers.

‘Whenever you feel low or sad always remember ‘this too shall pass’ and that no one is indispensable’ are the lessons he has taught me, along with another important learning: always surround yourself with everything that gives you inspiration to do better and go beyond yourself.

A patient listener–an extremely loving & caring grandfather is what my Dada is to me. Always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone regardless if they asked or not. To me, he is not just my grandfather but also the man who took the place of my father when I lost mine.

Always vibrant, so full of life, so young and so active. On August 26, my Dada turns 90. It brings back all my memories of childhood, my college days and beyond. Time flies, but the lessons learnt since childhood now seem to start making more and more sense. I feel blessed to have been born as his granddaughter! I am a shy person, so for me, this journey with him has been akin to sitting under a Bodhi tree, in silence–absorbing, listening, observing, and reflecting.