Happy Birthday Papa!

Papa & Me
Papa & Me

Yes… this blog is intended to Celebrate Women… but Women just don’t happen.  As much as an impact a mother has on a daughter, a father has equally the same in my opinion and experience.  Here is how my Papa help shape me in to the girl/woman I am today…

Papa is a ‘No-bullshit’, ‘It’s all about tough-love’, ‘I know you’re my only daughter but don’t expect any special treatment’ kind of father.  In my life as a wife, mother and an entrepreneur today, I call upon various teachings and incidences I have had with my father growing up, and realise how influenced I am by those experiences and how they impact me now.

1.   Till the age of 7 I used to come home from school and change out of my uniform dumping it in my parents’ room for my mother to figure out the next step – iron or wash, when she got home from work.  One day, after doing so, my father walked up to me and asked me what my uniform was doing on the floor.  I said, ‘that’s where I always leave it, and mama does what she does with it’.  Papa said, ‘well, when are you going to figure it out?  Mama is not supposed to do everything for you.  Fold your clothes and put them away neatly.’  I burst out crying as I didn’t know how to button and fold a shirt.  All Papa had to say was, ‘work at it, you’ll get it.’

2.  At 8, papa taught me how to make his and mum’s afternoon tea, to be ready for them after their siesta.

3.  At 10, I was told off for being arrogant with his staff at his shop when I answered, ‘It’s my father’s shop, I’ll do as I please’.  I was made to apologise to everyone.

4.  At 16, while my  mother was on a business trip, my father asked me one day what was for dinner.  I just looked blank at him… if mum didn’t cook and freeze, then dad cooked, or my older brothers dabbled in the kitchen and conjured up some yummy food.  If all that failed, then we got a take out.  But me cook?  Sure, an omelette or a scramble egg and toast, or a toastie?  I had a strange feeling that none of that was going to work that day.  So I asked papa what he would like and he said call Aunty …. and ask her how to make kababs, and I will show you how to make hummus and tabouleh.  Well if any of you know what tabouleh entails…. we spent a couple of hours in the kitchen with papa showing me how to ‘finely‘ chop ALL the ingredients of the salad just like we had it in Kuwait!  Needless to say, the kababs turned out not too bad and all the boys were pleased with the dinner.  Those experiences carried on and soon I was calling all our relatives and friends for recipes of dishes papa wanted to have!

5.  At 18 Papa accompanied me to the orientation day at FIDM and when we decided on my course, he encouraged me to take a student loan to complement the fee he would pay, so that I would learn the value of work,  money and education when it was time to get a job and pay my loan back.

6.  At 19 Papa took me on my first buying trip for his business.  I was already at the Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Marketing and studying Merchandise Marketing.  Papa took me to India for my first hand experience in ‘purchasing with the customer in mind’, and taught me (tried to at least) negotiate, and also calculate the landed price, and then working out the selling prices and the ROI of the trip.

7.  I left the business at 21 to work in the garment industry for many years, then at 26 while on a holiday in India, I received a ‘fax’ with one of his customer’s requirements and that the trend in LA was changing, so while I was in India, I needed to travel and find new merchandise for the shop… and upon my return, I was handed the business and asked to change it… from name, to look, to merchandise, to customer.

8.  All through my late teenage years and my twenties while still at home, Papa showed me how to care for the garden, the grass in the hot & blazing summers and how to prune the fruit trees.

9.  In the same years during courting and dating, Papa met all the young men and would charm them instead of the other way around.  We would then discuss the men, whether arranged or not, and we usually shared the same opinions or thoughts about them.  We liked the same ones and not so like the same ones!  Papa held on and would not give me away until he was totally convinced by one of them to be the right one for me.  Turned out he was more smitten by my hubby’s intro and request for my hand than I was!

10.  For some years after getting married and moving to London and seeing my parents age long distance, I offered to do some of the buying trips for them being that London is far more closer to India than LA is and that jet lag on me was far easier than jet lag on Papa in his late 60’s, early 70’s.  The response I got from him was typical of what a traditional father would say to his married daughter.  My responsibility now is towards my new home and my new family and I need to look forward.

11.  At 41, after trying a new venture in London, when I took some samples to Papa to see, he sat me down and we had a good educational chat once again on how to purchase, who my client was, how to price the items and how to market them.

12.  We still discuss business, I am still Papa’s sous-chef when I visit, we still exchange recipes, and we still enjoy his beautiful garden, and Papa still talks about what our ‘dharma’ (duties) in life are while relating his entire life experiences to us.

Wishing you a VERY HAPPY 76TH BIRTHDAY PAPA!  May you always be blessed with your strength and sound health.  Thank you for being such an amazing guide and role model.