Mr Balwant Godbole – an awesome guy!!!
He’d throw a fit at his granddaughter calling him an awesome guy. “Disrespect!!!” he’d call it, while chuckling about this post if he reads it. Must ask my cousin to show it to him.
Ajoba, if you’re reading this, its Soni. Gundi shared the post on Sobati about you, and I’m very happy and proud to see you featured there. I’ve saved your video clips.
Since that post is in Marathi, I thought I’d write something for these day’s young people who don’t read Marathi fluently.
Sobati is a group in Vile Parle. It means “Companions”. This group has been an important part of Ajoba’s (grandfather, as I call Mr. Balwant Godbole) life or as much of it as I have seen. Their get-togethers have always been a high point in his social life, and I remember many times as a child when he used to rehearse some song or the other to play at their meet ups, with us three grand daughters listening and providing unrequired feedback.
What I find special about him is his energy and enthusiasm for his interests, and his ability to be at peace with what is irrelevant to him. I have never seen him unnecessarily voice an opinion or gossip. His chief interest in life is music and recital of religious texts.
I grew up with him, and I remember countless nights when I slept to the soung of the Ramraksha or Gita….. I don’t have any religious inclination, and studied in a convent, but I know a surprising amount of Shlokas by heart just from having listened to them so many times in my childhood. Its strange. Someone asks me if I know them, and I say I don’t. Then I recite right along as I hear the words…..
Another of his loves that he passed on to me is music. He plays the violin really well. As kids, music was a big part of our childhood. Learning to sing, play the violin, keyboard…. were all highly appreciated things a child could do. I learnt to play many songs just because he played them, and I wanted to “copy”. Slowly I developed a ear for music (and it has been in my blood ever since) and as a teenager, the sounds of ajoba’s chanting in the dark were replaced by Kishore Kumar songs being played on a keyboard by me. To date, when I meet him, this subject comes up. He wants me to sing or play some song.
There’s a whole slew of memories, but one that my husband will remember forever is the first time he met my grandfather. A lot of Raka’s friends are into music, and he had heard a lot about ajoba from them before we even decided to get married. He was slightly awed when I took him across to meet my grandparents. Aji (grandmother) was alive at that time.
After some pleasantries, I suggested that ajoba play something on the violin. I knew Raka was dying to hear it. As ajoba got out his beloved violin, Raka put himself on alert to recognize some fantastic classical piece from some ancient times. Imagine his shock when the tune that hit his ear was “Aika dajiba” (for those who don’t know, this was a current “pop” song doing the rounds with an extremely peppy beat)!!!
This is classic ajoba – no stereotypes – he goes with what he likes. I’ve known him to play latest Hindi hits happily when I used to live with him. He thought that a young “javai” (son-in-law) would want to hear something from his generation, so he went for that. Raka still hasn’t got over that surprise.
What more….. there’s so much.
Once when I spoke with Ajoba, I was in Bangalore. After exclaiming that he could hear my voice as clearly as if I was next to him, and some trivial stuff, he ended the call with “Have a jolly good time!” How can anyone call this 88 year young man old when people a quarter of his age end calls with insipid murmurs?
If you’re reading this post Ajoba, I want you to know you’re totally awesome and that I love you and am very proud of you.
BTW, head over to that post on the Sobati blog if you want to hear Ajoba play the violin.