Thursday, May 1, 2014

THE IRON MAN AND HIS GENES



I borrowed this title from The Red Handed blog who had written on her face book page about how her dad ironed her skirts!!  And the strange thing is that  my  father  is also  an “Iron man”!!! 

As far back as I can remember, it was Appa who used to iron  our school uniforms  and polish our shoes. He used to fold the entire set of 2 regular  uniforms and PT uniforms neatly into piles and put them into our shelves. It was from him that I inherited the skill of ironing. He taught me how to fold the pleats on a skirt when it is ironed so that when it is folded and put back into the cupboard it would not crumple.  And thanks to his skills, I was always the smartly dressed student who never had to be pulled up after assembly time by the House Captains

He has a sense of order that borders almost on obsession. He folds the newspaper into an exact rectangle even as he reads it .. and needless to say, it always looks like that  when it is placed in the centre table at home. So is it surprising that he should love ironing?

His ironing abilities  (among his other quirks)  have obviously expressed themselves strongly in his older daughter.  I cannot bear to have clothes heaped on clotheshorses or lying about!!! So when we are both together you can imagine what it is like!!! My daughter and husband complain that he “attacks”  their underwear , ironing it during his free time while he is here.  The first time I heard that, I wondered if I should try doing that too? But I desisted because I was worried that the husband might think it is rather kinky behavior on my part. The  daughter ofcourse is very amused. She speaks about how her grand father had once offered to wash her Kashmiri kurta in mineral water during one of her visits  to his place. This seemingly strange offer is on account of my instruction to her not to have it washed at their place because the water is very hard. My father the  “ iron man” was probably itching to run his iron over the lovely royal blue embroidery  and even he, the obsessive “istri wala” drew the line at ironing a dirty kurta!!

So what is so  special about ironing that it becomes an obsession?  While for my father it might be his sense of order that makes him rush for the iron, in my case, the ironing helps me ease my worries away. I always feel relaxed after an ironing session. 

.But I do not deny that this sense of “perceived order” has also crept into my genes. I remember Appa’s saying “ A place for an item, an item in its place”. While I try to  strive towards that goal in my life, I realize what people think of as order might also be the disorder that surrounds them. I am horrified sometimes when I see the books strewn across my daughter’s bed. She does not like me tidying up. I sincerely hope it is a teenage trait because I remember throwing a fit during my teens if my father ever sought to attack my books cupboard during one of his cleaning sprees. He used to refer to it  sarcastically as my “treasure island” and telling me to tidy it up because “there might a snake or scorpion inside”. But obviously I didn’t because tidying it up would mean finding a place to hide the Mills and Boon novels with their steamy looking covers and those post cards pictures of a now obscure  actor called Kumar Gaurav who was my then heart throb !!! 

But my Iron man is also a very brave man because he regularly attempts to clean up Amma’s hand bag muttering under his breath that it is a “Pandora’s box”!!! He manages to complete the task sometimes braving the after math of the exercise. He  has offered to tidy up my hand bag but I have drawn the line there. I don’t think he has the courage to make that offer to his younger daughter!!! 
Appa’s sense of order moves beyond clothes, shelves, hand bags and even into wallets. He regularly smoothens the currency notes in my wallet telling me that I keep them folded like a vegetable vendor!!! I have seen him try to iron a particularly crushed five rupee note once. 

His tidying sprees generally involve throwing away what he thinks is  “useless stuff”. I remember him  throwing away spring onions from the kitchen counter one morning annoying my sister who had planned to cook something exotic with them. He complained to me quietly saying “ Deepa is shouting at me for throwing away some peels she forgot to put into the dustbin last night” 

My father’s youngest brother had once complained to me  that he feels very uncomfortable in  his brother’s house because “ Your father keeps it like a museum. Nothing can be moved from its place”!!  I had to keep myself from commenting because what my uncle was complaining about was something that to me and my father seemed rather outrageous. In his family, he and his son move the furniture around to have it just under the fan to catch the breeze. They think they can do it when they visit any one else’s place too but the point is , they forget to move it back.. !!! So you can imagine what it must be doing to the blood pressure of a man whose motto in life is “ A place for an item and an item in its place”!!

Among some of the quirks that the Iron man has not passed on to me is the need to secure plastic packets with rubber bands!! His place in Hyderabad has a  huge jar filled with multi colored rubber bands. He is always at a loss when he visits me because I do not entertain rubber bands!!!  He has tried stapling but I think it was a rather challenging exercise to staple plastic covers!!  I have had some bad experiences with pins unexpectedly poking my fingers in the kitchen and had innumerable arguments with him. 

My mother stays out of these father –daughter fights . My sister has developed a new line these days      “ You are behaving just like Appa” . And when I try to complain to her about him,  her advice to me       is “ Remember you have to deal with him the way you would deal with yourself” Really? Doesn’t sound like a compliment to me….!

14 comments:

Red Handed said...

hehehehe My papa cleans my moms handbag too..hehehe!! nd the Ceiling fan cleaning....hahaha.!!

Kalpana Solsi said...

When the newspaper is crumbled , my hubby knows that i have read the newspaper.

SG said...

Hmm. OCT (Obsessive Compulsive Tidying). Your amma is lucky to have such a husband.

mahabore said...

Really nice post and could relate to it at so many levels given that my dad is quite the Iron Man of my family and is also the cleanliness freak when it comes to newspapers, clothes, books and almost all the other things that you mention in this post, sans the underwear.

Oh, and just so you know, we are also Palakkad Pattars :D

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Mahabore, interesting that so many dads have this habit!! About origins, we are from the Cauvery Delta area- pure bred Tam Brahms :) .( So obviously it is not a regional trait!)

Meera Sundararajan said...

@SG I wish my mother would understand Appa's OCT in that way..!! Most often she is complaining about it !

KParthasarathi said...

I also took delight in ironing uniforms of my daughters when young and even grand kids.But I dare not open wife's handbag.It is strictly out of bounds!!!.I have also a fetish like your dad to keep newspapers folded in proper order and kept date wise but not always possible.

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Red handed, I wonder what is about women's handbags that makes men want to clean them out?

@ Kalpana, same here I crush and crumple the paper by the time I complete reading it. There is a saying in Tamil " Padichi Kizhichi podatruthu" - meaning reading and tearing something. I guess I follow it literally!

B. said...

I wish I was that organised ... I have so much to learn from your dad and Red handed's Dad ... maybe I am a bad MAN :(

Bikram

Divya said...

I am not too particular about ironing clothes or for most household chores for that matter but whenever I feel that my life is a complete mess, I angrily pull out a bunch of clothes from my closet and....start ironing them. Its unbelievable how therapeutic ironing out the creases of your clothes can be, especially when you have neither the energy nor the will power to straighten the creases in your life.

Cloud Nine said...

Ahhh...all dads are iron men i suppose;) Mine is the same 'every item in its place and place for every item' guy. Ironing 5 rs note? Wow! I've seen my pops do that too! May be the obsession with order and cleanliness makes them do so. Thank God, he hasn't touched my handbag ever. God knows what might befall him :P

subu.ps said...

I could relate many events u narrated with my family too.. made me think about my childhood days !!

Meera Sundararajan said...

@Cloud Nine and Subu.ps it looks like a lot of dads have this ironing fetish !!!

@ Divya yes, ironing has its therapeutic value!!! I supposed all those roadside "Istri wallahs" must be the calmest guys around !!

Sreeja Praveen said...

hehehehe :D I died of laughter :D "every item and its place" is every dad's motto :) And my appa also reads the newspaper just this way. Once when we were giving away the old newspapers, the buyer was like, " ungaathule paper padichamathiriye illai" :D

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