Day 70

Pita is the ridiculously optimistic, spiritual compass, dad joke teller extraordinaire, pep talker of the family. He is the consummate persuader. He once talked the Apple store into not only replacing our defective Mac computer but giving us an upgrade worth $1000 for free. My dad is a positive reinforcement guru and he constantly anticipates the best in everyone. And if you don’t deliver the best right away, don’t worry. He has an unlimited store of encouragement and analogies to get you there. He has a hard time wrapping his head around people knowingly acting badly toward him, never holding grudges, forgiving them almost faster than the deed was done. His work ethic is insane. He would drive up to 3-4 hours for Gita programs 4 or 5 days a week, come rain or shine, because this was his passion, often for a “donation” that would only cover the cost of gasoline. When we lived in the New Dwarka community, as soon as he’d come back from one of these programs, exhausted, he’d go to Govinda’s Restuarant and bring us carry out for our post 4 am mangal arati breakfast. And these were no joke: massive breakfasts of fresh pizza, dals, subjis and pasta. From dad, I learned how to “eat for God” and the important lesson of never skimping on the quality or quantity of food, especially when you’re feeding others. I owe him for every single Sanskrit verse he would painstakingly chant with me, over and over, encouraging me as I memorized, reading the romanizations and following along. I fondly remember all the pep talks and “special time” sessions where we would plan the future, materially and spiritually, and collaborate to incentivize good behavior. I empathize now with the struggle (and success) to make our childhood purely magical and as normal as it could be for us – with annual passes to theme parks, all the books we could care to read and carefully planned birthday parties. In fact, from dad I learned that birthdays were the most important days of the year and that celebrations could start well over a month beforehand. If I have any joie de vivre, that’s all him too; everything is a celebration with my dad, nothing too small or unimportant and whenever we meet, we always celebrate something, even if it is seemingly ridiculous.

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