Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A cup of tea with Vaidya Ajoba

This is an interview with Vinayak Vaidya and his grandchildren. The article was published in the children's weekly I work for.

We have had the fortune of meeting Vaidya ajoba a couple of times in our office. What struck us was Vaidya ajoba’s agility, his enthusiasm and keen interest in the well-being of his grand children. For us Vaidya ajoba became synonymous with adjectives like active and still raring to go. After talking to him, we realised that were not off the mark.
Born in Ahmednagar in 1927, Vaidya ajoba graduated in Bsc Agriculture in 1948. Ajoba then sought employment with Godavari Sugar Mills, Shirdi, where his advocate father had also worked. A thorough professional, ajoba took up World Bank assignment in Kenya.
Remembering his days in Kenya, the octogenarian says, “I had to teach Kenyans how to cultivate sugarcane and develop the area around the factory in addition to grooming my successor. I did all this in four years.”
Even now at the age of 81, Vaidya ajoba works in the capacity of consultant and travels across the country. Whew!
How were things when he was growing up? Was he active even as a kid?
In his growing up years, the outlook of boys was radically different. “In those days there was no pressure to excel, no cut-throat competition and no jealousy. We also didn’t face any peer pressure to own cycle or scooter,” ajoba tell us.
Life was very simple then. “We knew what our parents had sacrificed to put us through school and college. This thought – call it a sense of gratitude - prevented us from spending on luxuries. No eating out for us. Even after becoming a parent myself, I used to take my children to restaurants maybe once or twice a year and that too to the idli-dosa joints. Nothing fancy.”
Now, of course he enjoys going out with his both set of grandchildren every Sunday.
My grand children consider my life as a fairy tale,” says Vaidya ajoba, laughing.
What does he think about the gross commercialisation of values, children spending money on branded stuff?
“This gross commercialisation of values will never hold complete sway. I believe this phase will pass. I don’t believe in sermonising. Youngsters will realise it on their own. In fact, long queues outside Ramkrishna Math and Saras Baug Ganapati show that children are seeking direction at the right place,” says Vaidya ajoba.
Akshay and ajoba
Akshay, who is the eldest of the three grand children, thinks there is no generation gap between ajoba and him.
Ajoba doesn’t interfere in our lives. When you seek advice, he gives it.”
Ajoba helped me when I was confused whether to take up Spanish as my career. My parents were apprehensive and I couldn’t make up my mind.
When I asked ajoba, he said ‘Follow your heart.’ And, I am glad I listened to him,” says Akshay, who has cleared his Spanish diploma with distinction.
Ajoba is also okay with healthy interaction between boys and girls and doesn’t mind Akshay’s female friends.
Akshay, who has appeared for his Std XII from Fergusson College, says that he had to face peer pressure.
My classmates wanted me to smoke and drink. But, I didn’t give in; I just have one or two friends now and they are not really close,” he says.

Ajay and ajoba

For 14-year-old Ajay, Vaidya ajoba is like a friend, who protects him from his parents rath. “Sometimes when I don’t do well in my exams, my mother gets angry. But ajoba boosts my confidence saying ‘You have the capacity and potential to do well. Work hard next time.’ I feel better listening to it,” says Ajay.

Ajoba also supports the musical talent of his favourite grandson. Ajay, who has learnt guitar and synthesizer, once happened to play at ‘Jyeshtha Nagarik Sangh,’ which is frequented by ajoba and his friends.

The elderly gentlemen there had a few complaints. “Why did you play modern music? We don’t know most of the songs,” they said.
Ajay was nonplussed. But, as usual, ajoba came to the rescue. “Ajay is young and he played songs popular amongst his generation. We should try and learn new things,” said ajoba.
The friendly ajoba is not very happy with his grandson’s scruffy look. “Whenever I am going out, he usually tells me to dress smartly. In fact ajoba
taught me to iron clothes. Once I was getting late for school and my clothes were not ironed and I didn’t know how to use one. I was very upset. But, instead of criticising, ajoba got out the iron and taught me how to use it. Now, I can iron really well,” says Ajay, who studies in Muktangan English Medium School.
Priyanka and ajoba
Priyana, the youngest and pampered, feels that ajoba plays favouritism. “Ajoba takes side of dada when we fight. He says that I must have done something to provoke him. He is stern but nice,” says 10-year-old Priyanka.
Ajoba often tells me not to quarrel with mother, but to help her in arranging bed and folding clothes. He also encourages me to draw.

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