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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Papa; Now I Have My Own Michelin Star!

Garima Arora's father gave a free hand to his daughter, and even after dabbling in journalism for a brief time she opted to become a chef.

He rolled up his sleeve. Loosened his belt. Took a deep breath. Concentrated all his energy into his hands and set to excel at the task that lay ahead of him. From his masculine demeanor, one could have easily mistaken him for changing tires but he was at a far more manly task, busy impressing his daughter while she stood transfixed near the kitchen platform. She lifted herself on her tiny toes to see his hands mix the flour. The twinkle in her brown eyes shone brighter as he began whisking the cream for the icing. With one playful flour-laden finger, he taped her stubby nose. She sneezed as the particles tickled her nares, wanting to smell the best aroma in the world. Yes, they were going to bake her favorite banana and walnut cake.

Not exactly like this, but something similar must have brewed in the Arora kitchen when the proud father, Anil Arora, was laying the foundation for Garima’s culinary career. Who knew twinkle, twinkle little star could as well be a rhyme for adding Michelin Stars to your flourishing career? This father taught his daughter that no star is ‘high up in the sky’. He didn’t just stop her from wondering ‘what you are’ but pushed her to collect the stars like marbles in her pocket.

A father who was the biggest influence in her life

When the world was busy advocating how the kitchen is not just the woman’s domain, the Arora father architected his daughter’s career in the global kitchen. Mothers have indefinitely borne the onus of educating and training their daughters in adding the right amount of salt to the broth. They are blamed for not inculcating the optimum sense or judgment of how much sugar goes into making the perfect halwa. Here, a father takes that responsibility on his able shoulders. Apart from sliding a pencil into Garima’s pencil-like fingers, he quietly taught her to hold a ladle and stir soul-soothing curries.

The culinary star has quoted for a magazine that when she was fifteen, her father had taken her to the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai on a dinner date. To a teenager, who had just enjoyed the first best meal of her life, he told, ‘If you wish to enjoy such exotic meals, you must earn for it.’ Imagine how much, the child must have yearned for it that she went to cook premium, exotic meals at her globally acclaimed restaurant, Gaa in Thailand, and build her net worth to 3 to 5 million dollars!

Many times, it is seen that a father trains his daughter to be the son he always craved for. But in the case of the Aroras, they are blessed with an equally enterprising son, Naroze Arora, so what was the need to push a daughter in a man’s kitchen? Or was it not even a push and just an assurance that I am here to clean your clatter, you go ahead with the frenetic chopping and mixing?

I believe Anil Arora’s expectations from his children were never gender biased. He recognized them as individuals with a flair for creativity, not as gender-oriented bodies to be moulded in typical, societal norms.

Some fathers want daughters to be “like a son”

Why do I say so? Let’s cite the example of Mahavir Phogat. If the movie Dangal, which they cleverly call as loosely based on the life of the Phogat sisters, is to be believed, we get a fair idea of how the Phogat father pushed all his daughters into wrestling, after he couldn’t bear a son. Though our article isn’t on him, yet, his hidden ideology can be used as a reference.

‘Hamari betiyan hi bête saman hai.’ (Our daughters are like sons). Why such a comparison? Why can’t daughters be just daughters and not develop ‘mardani’ as their so-called privileged, second name? Nothing wrong in sculpting your daughter to become a wrestler, for that matter a cricketer or a fighter-plane pilot, but only if she wishes to. Not because she has to take your legacy ahead for which the uparwala has not granted you a son.

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Arora, on the other hand, gave a free hand to his daughter and even after dabbling in journalism for a brief time Garima opted out and married the cooking profession. He broke the glass ceiling by teaching his daughter to cook. Not by asking her to boil potatoes but by feeding her the best-baked potato lasagna!

More fathers are cooking now, yet aren’t ; will they be able to inspire their kids?

Many fathers are donning the chef’s hat to cook for their children. Yet, a sizeable number fail to inspire their daughters to step into the kitchen. More women wish to walk away from the clanging spoons and hot tavas. Could the apathy of their sweaty, drooped, haggard-faced mothers have infected them? Personally speaking, if I have to recall my mother making fifty-odd theplas every single morning for a family of eight, I still shudder at the thought of doing it myself. It is far better to sit in an air-conditioned cabin and dole out orders to employees than rolling out hot phulkas for lunch. Had my father, singing a la Kishor Kumar melody, prepared a delicacy for the family, probably my idea of a chef and the kitchen would have been better.

We learn from our parent’s mistakes and thus, I studied hard, so that one day, I could earn enough to afford a cook. Impressions matter. This could well be the story of more women than we imagine it to be. Deep in the recesses of our minds, as women, we look out for the pattern of our mother’s life. Either we go ahead to follow them or cringe at their choices. The father has a major role to play in how the mother is portrayed before the children. And that’s where Anil Arora wins brownie points!

Apart from wishing Garima more stars to her name, I wish that Anil Arora shares his expertise on how to nurture confident, successful, yet loving and sensitive daughters. Eagerly waiting for more women Masterchefs to rule the roost!

Image source: YouTube

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About the Author

Dr. Aparna Salvi Nagda

Aparna, residing in Mumbai, is a consulting homoeopath and edupreneur by day and loves to find comfort in books by twilight. Writing has allowed her to express without wagging her tongue. She has contributed to read more...

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