We were at Esplanade restaurant on Independence Day. My cousin had called up in the morning and we made this impromptu plan. It is a very popular restaurant ( being a vegetarian, I enjoyed Aloo Jhinga posto and Dhokar Dalna) and since we were 8 of us we had to wait for our turn to occupy the table. When it was time to take our seats we were one seat short. (Our cousin apparently did not count all the kids).The restaurant was full. No chair left. I lifted my daughter (age 6) from her seat and made her sit on my lap. Her impatience was palpable. She wanted a seat on the table.
By the time I relented, we got our 8th chair. I wondered “Why did I make her shift from the original seat?” That left me wondering, we take people for granted and forget to apply our emotional intelligence. It couldn’t have been better as I noticed this hanging on their walls.
Post a heavy lunch it was time for a strong tea. This time a different crowd, a young cousin and her friends. The waiter took the order and served us 7 cups of tea. We were 8 including my 6 year old. I passed my cup and asked her to have a sip. My elder daughter also let her have a sip from her cup. It was obvious and clear. My 6 year started crying softly and she said “I want a full cup of tea.” I immediately told my wife and cousin that yes she too needs to be part of the tea party. It was important that we listen to her and understand.
During that short tete-a- tete with Gen Z my wife later recollected how energized we were after discussing with them. I had the opportunity to learn from a 24 year old who had switched an IT job for a job of passion and he went onto explain more about Calisthenics (new discovery). My wife had the opportunity to learn from another 25 year old about the animation industry and the latest trends.
Earlier that morning I had called Ian Faria and wished him happy Independence Day. I got an opportunity to speak to his mentee and wished her all the best and shared nuggets of gold that really lifted her spirits . That is the time Ian mentioned about how we have to think from 70 years of Independence to Interdependence. That was a good thought which kept me on the hunt to understand more about “Interdependence.” Prime Minister Modi in his speech had also spoken about “Bharat Jodo” movement after 75 years of the Quit India (Bharat Chodo) movement.
Before the restaurant we had stopped at a shopping mall as I wanted to get my daughter a flag ( these days we do not get the plastic ones at the traffic signals), Apart from the flag we bought a couple of books as well. One book particularly caught my attention while we were in the billing queue and I picked it up just by seeing the front cover “ This way is easier, Dad” by Harimohan Paruvu. I spent close to 30 mins deciding on one book and it took me only 30 seconds to pick up this second book. Is it because I am a father of two girls? I think it was the punch line “ How my daughter saved me from growing up” that captured my attention.
That day my 6 year old taught me the meaning of ” Interdependence” (courtesy – Amir Ghannad ) which is to have:
- humility-the acknowledgment that your independence is not independent, that it does not come from you; it comes solely from those upon whom you depended in the past.
- Listening mindset- The willingness to “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” and the practice of getting into the other person’s world and seeing the world through their eyes.
- Emotional intelligence – The skill of understanding and accepting one’s emotions, putting them to work wisely for one’s own benefit and the benefit of others. This also involves awareness of one’s emotional impact on others, and the ability to adjust one’s communication style and approach to various situations as necessary, so that a win-win solution is produced.
The two experiences made me realise a very important point. As a parent, I should cultivate the humility to accept that I was not paying enough attention to my 6 year old. By making her sit in my lap and by not ordering a cup of tea I was only hurting her emotions and not listening.
My daughter didn’t actually say “this way is easier Dad!” but she made her needs very clear. “I want my seat on the table, I want a full cup of tea.”
I had not planned anything that happened that day: listening to the PM speak, speaking to Ian’s mentee, the trip to the book store, lunch with extended family and tea with some dynamic 20-somethings. Nothing was planned but independence day played out to show me Interdependence.
On Independence Day my daughter uplifted me.