And now finally the big event for which I came to Calcutta, Dadu (Bengali for maternal grandpa), entered into his nineties on Sunday.
We threw a party at his place, Cookie Jar cake, chips, Sprite, Flury's chicken patties, home cooked channa (ghoogni) and naan and the very Bengali roshogolla ... all that were missing were party hats and streamers.
All his children were there, four out of his seven grandchildren, daughter in law, grand daughter in law through an SMS and his loving wife. Dadu was animated and happy and full of life as only he can be. He refused to wear new clothes and couldn't eat much of the party food at night but that didn't stop he from being the soul of the party.
It was one memorable evening of laughter, love, chaos, warmth, great food, photographs, video recordings, chatter, hugs, hand shakes, blessings and, for some inexplicable reason, Finding Nemo playing in the background.
As I get ready to call it a night before I leave for Mumbai all my Dadu memories come back to me ... being told that all black and yellow cabs in Delhi were Dadu's cabs when I visited him from England when I was three, living with him for a year, the stories of World War 2 and concentration camps which he would tell me when I was nine, him and my grandma coming to visit us every evening after we moved to our own place, our trips by the 205 bus and river ferry to Howrah Station to sip H P apple juice and have sada dosas and take in the breeze of the Ganges, his attempts to make me laugh when I was a quiet teenager, and then calm me when I had a fear psychosis of Math and science, a role he repeated for most of his grandchildren, his being there to give us strength, courage, guidance and inspiration and helping a number of us make career choices, his love for the Railways where he worked, his yet unfulfilled desire to see his grandchildren as IAS officers, his pining to go to Puri and taken in 'ozone on the beach', his battling through heart attacks and frequent hospitalisations, to come out smiling to praise each and everyone of his grandchildren to whoever would listen, and his constant plugging of the fact the eldest grandson has showed the way to those who followed ...