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The Dad Hatter:
our beloved father
This little section is dedicated to my father. 
These are conversations we have when we visit him and on our nightly phone calls. There are also anecdotes,trips down memory lane and lots of humour. I invite you to sit down and join us:

The Wedding Invitation:

Dad received a wedding invitation; his nephew's daughter was getting married and the invitation was a photo of the bride and groom  when they were children:

Our housekeeper asks him:
"Would you like to go,uncle?"

"Aren't they a little young to be getting married!?"

Rio Bravo:
Dad loves a good western and has seen them all.
"Dad,Rio Bravo is on...would you like to watch it?"
"Yes,yes ya baba....put it on."
As we busy ourselves putting dinner on the table, Dad turns to us and says:
"This isn't Rio Bravo...."
"Erm...yes it is Dad...look it says: John Wayne and Dean Martin starring in Rio Bravo"...
We sit and start to eat....
"This is not Rio Bravo..."
"Dad!!!It is...."
Munch, munch...dinner over and Dad is back in front of his TV screen...
"This is not Rio Bravo"...
The credits start to roll and Dean Martin starts to sing the movie theme:
"Rioooo Bravooooo"...
"Dad!! Dean Martin is singing it at the top of his lungs!!" 
Dad looks on...stunned into silence.

RIP...James Garner:actor

My sister on phone with Dad:.."Dad,do you remember James Garner?"
Dad: "Yes...the actor."
Lina: "He died,poor thing..."
Dad: " He wasn't very famous...."

The Walker:
Dad has to get used to the fact that he can no longer walk without his faithful three wheeler walker as well as his carer by his side.
My sister and I happened to be on this particular walk and as I watched Dad painstakingly pushing himself along and squeezing the brakes whenever he is unsure of the terrain...and coming to a sudden halt:
"Dad!.... Release the brakes!!...it's just like riding a bicycle..."
"A bicycle? More like a donkey!!"

The Document:
Dad has to sign some documents and Lina explains this to him in great detail over the phone:
"Dad....wherever you see a red cross,you 'll need to put your initials..."
"Yes...yes...ya baba"
"And where it says : " sign here" twice,you have to sign.... Okay ?"
"Okay! That is great ya baba...so I don't have to sign anything!......"

The Watch:

Dad’s watch has stopped working, his back up watches are no longer working either , as we established while there last weekend:

“Take it to Cartier and let them check it Dad...but you are going to have to go without since your other watches have stopped working too.”

Couple of days later and once we were back home:

“ I took my watch to Cartier Ya baba, but ...(indignant “Heh!”)it is going to take 6 to 8 weeks! So I put on one of my other watches....”
“Dad!! You do realise they are not working either!!”
“Yes Yes Ya Baba!” as though I was taking him for an absolute fool. “ It is just in case the pendulum starts swinging again...”

The Dad Hatter had a great fall....

Unlike Humpty Dumpty, all the kings ambulance men couldn't convince Dad to climb into the ambulance to have his vitals checked...Once upright and outwardly mobile, his one demand was to be left alone to go to Peter Jones to have his latte and scone....Peter Jones needs to award Dad with a medal of honouring them through thick or thin.

"Dad!" I cried teary eyed and worried sick." What happened? Are you alright?"
" Ya baba I appreciate your worry...I am fine!... I am getting used to this falling down business..." he replies chomping on a mouthful of watermelon.
" What did the doctor say when he came to check you?" I persevere fearing that I am rapidly getting nowhere.
" They sent a very nice chap.."
" Dad! He's your GP!"
" Aah...Oh yes yes...he checked me and gave me a prescription for antibiotics".
" Antibiotics for what?" I ask confused.
" For something or another" was his reply.

Two days prior:
"Dad, do you have a cold? you sound bunged up.."
"Ya Allahhhhh...NO! I don't have a cold! What is the matter with you an your sister??"
"Dad, how is your ankle? We heard from K. that it is swollen..."
"What!!! Who told you that???" cussing and mumbling.
"NO! I don't have a swollen ankle or a swollen aunt!"

The "eyes" have it:

While visiting Dad and during a lull in the conversation,my sister leant over her husband, scissors in hand, to trim a rogue eyebrow:
" Watch it, Ya baba! "said Dad taking in the scene at hand.
" It's ok Dad... She's only trimming an eyebrow..." I replied .
"Yes..." said a patient Dad,"..But he happens to have eyes also!"  

What did you eat today ?

K. the carer was helping Dad put on his cardigan and I approached to button it up, in doing so I exclaim:
" OMG,Dad! This cardigan needs to be washed! There's yoghurt on it...tomato sauce..."
And Dad calmly responds:
"It's like a menu!"
(Queue laughter)

The Tooth fairy vrs Fatigue:

Dad lost a tooth...but it pretty much looks like he lost a good many more as the teeth,missing their broken companion, have decided to "part" ways with each one stepping away from the other that Dad's mouth looks like a zipper!

My sister organised an appointment with a dentist close enough for Dad not to balk and we repeated to him the day,hour and who would take him until he knew it all by heart.Still things went pear shaped:

Part 1:
"When is my appointment Ya baba?"
"Monday, Dad...remember? Monday the 4th....Tomorrow."
"Yes,yes..I see it written on the calendar but what is the date today?"
"The 3rd Dad. Tomorrow is the 4th..."
"Today is the 3rd!?...But it says we are the 17th on my clock!" replies a startled Dad.

Part 2:
When Lina called to check how the appointment went (dreading that Dad may have pulled a fast one at the last minute) she was told that when Dad and the carer got there...the lift was out of order and wouldn't be up and running before a month!!!!
That evening's phone conversation with my sister:

"Dad, I am so sorry about the whole hassle with the dentist...."
"Yes Ya baba..." interrupts Dad seeking sympathy." K.(the carer) was quite pushy and insisting that I had to go!" 
"Waddah ya mean you didn't want to go! Of course you were bloody going Dad!!  What I meant was about the lift not working!!...I will have to re-schedule."
"I don't want to go..." petulant Dad.
"I don't care...you are going!" insistent daughter.
"You Don't Care?" hurt Dad.
"No!" firm daughter. Have you seen the state of your teeth?...(Deep exaggerated sigh from Dad).. What more can we do for you?? Chew your food and put it in your mouth!!!!"
"Ya Howlelahhhh" (Arabic way of expressing tedium..as in "Dear God")...."Ya baba, I am tired!!..." this always comes out when he wants to wheedle out of any appointment.
"Dad! You don't do anything all day !!" exasperated daughter.
" I am psychologically tired....." 

Lasagna vrs Fish Pie:
Dinner time with Dad is invariably quite early and this time my sister and I had an appetite to match his. Once the food was on the table,we gathered round to eat. I put a plate of lasagna in front of dad:
"Careful Dad..it's really hot".
He nods and pokes his dish while looking at mine:
"What is that?" he asks while poking and trying to taste his meal.
"Fish Pie.."
"Is it good?..."
"Yes,there is fish and prawns.."
"There is prawns!?"
"Do you want to switch?"
So we do and I start to enjoy his lasagna
Dad prods and picks at his fish pie,his eyes darting to my plate:
"Is it good ya baba?..."
"Do you want it back,Dad??!".....

Issues and Tissues:
I was reading out loud to Dad from a Sunday paper about 2" Big Issue" sellers who were killed:
"...you know the homeless guy who stands outside Peter Jones and calls out "Big Issue! Big Issue!" and wants you to buy a copy..."
"Yes,yes yes..."
"Well apparently 2 of them were killed,it says here..."
"Ya baba what are you talking about 2 Tissues..."

I was chatting to Dad when he cut me short:
"Ya baba...the line is very bad! Let us hang up and you call me back in seconds...ok? Ready? 1....2...3!"

Dad was bent over my iPad with glee as I showed him picture after picture of my growing puppy Titan. I then wrapped up the show with a short  video of Titan in full action:
"Ya Baba!!These pictures are moving....!!?"

So the "Hat" now has a fan club...men have apparently stopped Dad in the street to ask him where he got it:
"Shopping...shopping!" replies Dad being purposely evasive.
"Why don't you tell them your daughter bought it for you?" asked my sister.
"...Would you like me to give them your name and number too??!!!" was Dad's sarcastic reply.

My sister bought Dad a new hat and had it sent directly to him. Worried that he might not like it was the least of our problems,Dad tends to want to keep anything that he likes but that doesn't fit...it is a costly luxury.
"Dad? Did you receive the hat?"
"Yes! Ya baba.." he gushed enthusiastically." It is a..masterpiece!!!"
" Does it fit,Dad?!"
"Yes,yes...it is not too small and not too sloppy...it sits perfectly on my beautiful head!"
"I take it that you like it then..."

One of Dad's favourite pastries are "ma'moul": middle eastern date filled delights that are gobbled down with relish to be swiftly followed by another. Iman,his housekeeper/carer has bought some to celebrate the upcoming Eid, but told Dad that under no circumstances is he to eat one before Eid is made official ...(there is no time like the present for Dad,Eid or no Eid...)
"Ok...Ok" he replied complying fully with her wishes. "Just... give me a little one Now!...."
Iman has hidden them from him.

Where did Yankee Doodle go?
I was explaining to Dad the new fad of dog breeding, namely the Labradoodle:
“So they take a Labrador and breed it with a poodle... A labradoodle!”
Dad deadpan replies: “ ...Went to town!”

The Lawyer:
We needed to seek legal council and we talked ourselves hoarse telling Dad all about it...while he sat back and listened without reacting. Worried, we let him speak directly to her,over the phone:
"Well Dad? Did she explain things to you?... are you reassured?"
Moment of reflection then he responds: "Ya Baba...Apparently she is a lawyer!!..."
Ta Dahhhh! 

"Reeeemmmo...Phone call for you":
...and if by chance or our misfortune,the caller on the other end was a man...Dad would promptly run up the stairs to stand vigil by our door.Basically,in the absence of any bugging devices at his disposal,he would man his God given station by the door,nostrils flaring until satisfied by our mortification or mouthed name of the man daring to call and speak to one of his daughters.

You've Got Mail....:

We were never given the chance to get to our mail let alone read it in our household; Dad would beat us to it, dust them for prints and analyze all the information before handing them to us:
"Here ya baba..you have a postcard ....from A. ...Who says he is having a wonderful time in...."
Yeah Dad,why don't you read my postcard to me...Oh!You've memorised it? Even better!

Watching The Voice UK:
"Ya baba...what are they doing?"
"It is a sing off Dad..."
"Singing? They are shouting at each other!"
"What do you call this music?..."
"Erm...Pop music Dad"I didn't want to venture further...
"Ahhh Pep!?"..
"Yesss I heard you PEP!"
Money well spent on another hearing aid.

Crazy,Stupid, Love:
When I was 16, I was head over heels in love. Dad tolerated the situation from afar and would bring my almost daily love letters to the breakfast table...not before having scrutinised the back of the envelope at length.Until one day he snapped :
"What on earth does SWALK mean?"
"SEALED WITH A LOVING KISS" I replied dreamily.

"How exciting" he replied his voice dripping with sarcasm.

The Screen:
Dad needed a new tv...not only was his old and old fashioned (the kind that juts out  in the back and hits the wall)but it simply wasn't up to digital scratch.The very fact that it had lasted this long was not only surprising but a bloody miracle.
That evening I called Dad to make sure all went well :
"Dad? Did Peter Jones deliver your new tv this morning?"
"Yes,yes,yes...they came and delivered the screen..."
"Dad, the screen as you put it...is in fact your tv."

The Screen part 2:
The next day I checked up on him to make sure he knew how to use it:
"Hi Dad! Are you watching your new tv?"
"Do you know how to use it?"
"Well do you plan on finding out?"
"Yes ,yes ya baba! Don't worry, I'll push a few buttons and see what happens..."

*I spied a resemblance and simply brought it out!*

The wise words of Buddha Baba...:

On a trip to New York  many years ago, Dad, Lina and I were out and about early one Sunday morning. It was mid November and freezing so when we came across a streetfair and saw a stall selling big woolly Peruvian sweaters,we headed straight for it. Feeling brazen I launched into some basic Spanish: 
"Hola senor! Cuanto este?"I asked pointing at a sweater.
“Hola senorita! You speak Spanish!”says the stall keeper smiling.
“It's about time !” Dad pipes in. “Good to hear that her education finally serves a purpose!”  

“Dad...do you remember Lina’s friend H. from college?”
“Not really Ya baba....but his name rings a bell.”
“You used to tease him when he would come round to the house...slim guy,dark hair, fast car? H.??”
“Ya baba ...it rings a bell...but from farrrr away.”

Back in the day:
On cinema days with Dad we would jump into the car, drive to Leicester square and usually end up parking at the carpark on Panton street. The smell of urine emanating from the stairwells was unbearable... I always made it a point to never touch the doors with my bare hands, preferring to minimise contact by kicking them open instead:
“Ya baba why are you kicking the doors like that?”
“Cos they are disgusting and I don’t want to catch anything...”
Dad decided to follow my lead by missing the door entirely and ....kicking me in the leg.

It isn't always easy to try and find enough stuff to chat to Dad about over the phone but I try and chatter away regardless. I winded down by saying:
" So Dad...what're you watching on TV?..."
"Dad? Is it ..(and I hazard a guess)..Deal or no Deal?"
" ...I can't remember after this long conversation!"

Do you remember the time?
My mother had an awful habit that drove Dad up the wall. Every morning she would judiciously drench her cornflakes in milk, add sugar then proceed to stir the living daylights out of it. She would then calmly sit down with the Daily Mail, take two maybe four mouthfuls before slinging the whole lot down the sink. Having witnessed the remains time and time again Dad looked at her one morning and said:
“Why don’t you just mix the whole thing in the sink?...”
For anyone who knew my mom...she wasn’t amused...But we sure as hell were!

Culinary manoeuvre's in the dark:Part 1
I hear Dad getting up, I check my watch and shake my head in frustration:
Me: "Dad...are you ok?"
Dad:" Good morning ya Baba..."
Me:"It's 2 o'clock in the morning Dad!!!"...
Dad:" So? It's the morning..."
Me:"Go back to bed Dad"...and he shuffles off to the kitchen for something to drink and eat...who am I kidding.

Part 2:
Lina catches Dad red handed(on his second tour of kitchen duty)cheese sambousek (lebanese savoury delight) in one hand,a pot of yoghurt in the other on the verge of some heavy duty dunking:
Lina: " Dad!! What the hell are you doing?"
Dad a look of thwarted defeat and surprise on his face:" Eating ya baba..."
Lina: "It is 3 o'clock in the morning!.."
Dad: silence but still armed with food in each hand.
Lina:" You have already gotten up to eat, Dad..."
Dad: "I did?"...as if his alter ego got there before him

"These shoes were meant for walkin'.....One of these days these shoes are gonna fall to pieces around you..."

" Dad? What on earth happened ...?"
"Ya baba my shoes committed suicide!"

Dad loves his soap operas and he has a handful he watches every evening ending with "EastEnders". One of the longstanding characters on the show was being killed off in an episode over Xmas and Lina chose to chat to Dad about it:
"So Pat from EastEnders died...."
"W'allah?....(Really?) She was a very nice lady..."

The Bank:
“Dad? Can you remember whether there are bank tellers working on Saturday morning....?”
“I think so, Ya baba.... If not, you can always use the slot machines...”

The Bank 2:
“You’ll need to take your ID, Dad...”
“What ID, Ya baba ?My ID is myself !” he says proudly as he skims his hand from neck to chest to emphasize the very fact.

Coco's Christmas Card:
Every year Dad receives a Christmas card from Tante Claudette aka Coco;she is my dear friend's mom and our neighbour here in France.
"Ya baba...you have received a Xmas card from Claudette."
"Erm...it's addressed to you,Dad. It's for you... Every year she sends  you one...?!
"How does she know where I live?..."

Another day, another holler!
Food for thought:
So back in London and back from the supermarket where we organised a delivery that could only be done  in the morning:
" Ah Baba...what did you buy?"
"The delivery will come first thing,Dad. No more options available for tonight." It was now around 5.00pm...
" But did you bring something with you?.. I WANT SOMETHING TO EAT NOW!!"
He got a yoghurt before he threw his rattle at us!

Dad likes to get up in the middle of the night...to eat! And because we indulge him when we see him by...filling up the fridge, we get a telling off from Iman,who takes care of Dad, the flat and his food:
"Don't buy him too much prepared food! He'll eat it all!"
Iman was away on holiday and replaced by the smiling Khadija who, upon Iman's return , proceeded to confide in her:
"I think someone is stealing Aami's... ("Amo" means uncle,as does "Aami ": used as a form of respect for the elderly even you are not related) ...Food! Every time I come..there is less and less!"
Iman was in hysterics when she told us,as were we:
"No one is stealing his food.... He is eating it !"

Photograhs and Memories II:

We come across a photo of Dad on the ship "Esperia" on their crossing from Marseille, France to Alexandria, Egypt (the stories will all be in "The Dad Hatter": The Book")Rather fetching with his shirt tucked in a la Simon Cowell:

And then another of him on another day next to...:
"Dad? Who is that next to you? Is it the Captain of the Esperia?"
"How did you know it was the Esperia, ya Baba?"
"It's written on the life preserver in the photo...."
"Oh yes,yes...Yes,that is the Captain...Must have been a short one..."

So there we were around the dining table: Lina, Dad and I having dinner. Dad was eating leftovers from lunch but eyeing my Heston Blumenthal beef pie  that I had bought from Waitrose:
"What's that, ya baba?"
"Its a pie Dad...a beef pie. Do you want a bite? It's De-licious!"
"No baba" as he waved a hand at me pretending that he was not interested.
So  we got down to eating while Dad kept his eye on my plate:
"Do we have any more of them?..."
"No Dad."
"Why not?"
"Eat your dinner,Dad."

Photographs and memories of hair lost:
Lina put together a bunch of Dad's old photos that he took back in the day and those that were taken of him and we sat with him as he talked us through them,reminiscing and making comments:
"I was very handsome.....Clark Gable!" 

Lina: "What's up with bow tie, Dad..."
Dad: concentrating on the photo (pause):"...Well, that hair is gone."

The Long and Winding road:

For once the phone only rang a handful of times before Dad picked up: “Wow Dad! That was quick!”
“It's because I am in the bedroom ya baba...can you call me back?..."
(Dad only enjoys conversing from the living room and the safety of his armchair.)
“Okayyyy Dad.”
“But call me right back!... 5mns ...!”
So I mentally pictured Dad shuffling from his room, to the corridor, from the corridor, to the living room and flinging himself  unceremoniously into his armchair... I gave him an extra beat or two...Yep, time to call. And the phone rang and rang and rangggggggg...!!!
“ Dad!??? What the hell took you so long??”
“I had to walk over ...Ya Baba!”
“Dad! You weren’t exactly in Hyde Park!!”
Explosive laughter from Dad.

I was telling Dad all about our day in Monaco and how surprised we were that the pavements were covered in dog shit and not the fabled gold:
"Really? What a shame...(tut tut tut)That means that the population of dogs has increased....."

Dad received his new hearing aid and promptly told my sister over the phone that night : "Ya baba ....it is perfect! I hear even better than before!"
Which did nothing to reassure us when the following night he couldn't hear a thing: " Hello? HELLO?...wait a minute ya baba...Helloo?!..I can't hear a thing...Can you speak up?"
Apparently it all depends on how it puts it in his ear....as for the special accessory he has to wear around his neck... (to enhance the sound of the tv without having to up the volume) it sits beside him like an unwanted guest.

Lina had a missed call from Dad. She tried to call him repeatedly but the line was continuously busy...worried that she couldn’t get through and that Dad had called her this early in morning: 7.30am, she started to panic. Finally it rang and Dad answered straight away:
“Dad! (Relief,mixed with anger )... I’ve been trying to call you! What’s wrong?”
“Ya baba...every time I pick up the phone...there is no action..”
“What are you talking about Dad?
" Every time I try to dial ya baba...there is no action!”
"Well You called Me! What kind of action are you looking for? A ticker tape parade?”

My sister and I took Dad to get him a new hearing aid:
"Mr Adeeb ?...I am now going to test your hearing..."
"Is that a threat?"

Years ago, Dad was rushed to hospital for a serious ear problem and was under the care of Doct. Parikh( “..he is like a brother to me...”) One morning,while we were visiting him, a large jovial nurse from the "di islands" sashayed in with a very large torch under her arm:"Good mornin' Mista Adeeb..."
Dad took one look at the torch and replied: “Good morning my dear.... and what do you plan to do with that ? ...”

Back in the day, we used to have a brilliant and very charming dermatologist : Doctor  Ian Sarkani who had his practice in Harley street, London. He would know immediately where the eruption came from, why and how to get rid of it. One day Dad went to see him about an unsightly spot on his head. Doctor Sarkani peered at it and asked :
“Mr. Adeeb...do you do this... (scratch, scratch, scratching his head with his index finger)... while watching television ?"
 My Dad didn't have to ponder the question long:
“Actually,  I do! ”
“ Well... Stop It !”

In late autumn of 1993 I went travelling with my parents to Montreal, my mom and I were ecstatic when Dad suggested we swing by NYC on our way home. So there we were, in NY at the luggage carousel when I spied one of our bags and made a grab for it just as Dad sidled up behind me. I swung the suitcase round and hit Dad straight in the nuts. He went down like a felled tree, bending at the waist and trying to be as dignified as possible under the circumstances.
“Omg! Dad!!...” I said in shock and fear, Dad could not reply. I looked to my mom for some sign of what to do...she was muffling her laughter and shaking her head.
“ Baba! I am so sorry!”
“Aarghhhh...”he expired slowly muffling a scream.”Ya baba...leave me be for now” he whispered through clenched teeth as he turned to hobble off to regain composure.
My mom and I were in tears, I was laughing so hard my vision blurred and I could hardly breathe. When dad reappeared, we cut it short...fast.

The carers are told to make sure that Dad drinks plenty of water...which he doesn't. I ,on the other hand, don’t have to be told twice . I was guzzling away from the bottle placed near Dad on the sitting room table when he got up to shuffle to the toilet. When he got out, I happened to be in my room, polishing off the remains of another before I left: “You’re finishing all the water in the house! All I see is( miming holding a bottle of water to his mouth)...glug,glug,glug."
Marcel Marceau would have been proud... I , on the other hand,was in hysterics.

I bought myself a chequered shirt and knew that Dad would get a kick out of it ,being a lover of chequered shirts himself:
“Ya baba this is lovely! And its beauty is that it is not exactly green...."
“And what is it exactly, Dad?"
" A hint of green."
" And what is the rest then?"
“A hint of white.”

Lina asking Dad, for conversation sake, which one of the carers came today: “Ya baba,there are so many girls coming and going....I can’t remember...”
“Dad...it’s not a whore house!”...
Dad: chuckle,chuckle,chuckle...

Dad reflecting on the various colourful members of our vast family and their antics: “Ya baba...It’s like a forest...”

  The paint on Dad’s bathroom ceiling was flaking so badly that it looked like confetti. My sister arranged for the painters to come in and sort it out with the least amount of discomfort for Dad. Now while he agreed with her wholeheartedly , Dad radically changed his tune when the actual day approached :
“ Painters are coming?... Why are they coming? The ceiling is fine, ya baba...it's just a little patch...”
I called him the morning of, to make sure he was up and ready to let them in and begin their work:
“ Good morning Dad..are you washed and dressed?”
“Of course I am dressed! You think I am sitting here naked?!”

Regarding The Dad Hatter:
My sister told me that she had just received a phone call from the manager's assistant at the healthcare company we employ for Dad.
" Oh?" I said" what did she want?"
She was calling to enquire when our next trip to London will be:
"We haven't yet made any plans" replied my sister to the assistant.
“ I see....Well how about your brother, Reem...?”
!#****!?~*** #

“Dad? Remember when I told you about Lina now having a brother called Reem?!”
“ A brother?... Nobody told me!”
“Yes I did, Dad! Yesterday when we spoke?”
“ Well,tell me again....”

“ Wow Dad! You answered the phone fast.”
“Because I am sitting right next to it.”
“Why aren’t you sitting opposite the TV watching "Deal or no Deal?”
“ Because I am eating watermelon....”

My sister was telling Dad all about the wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock in the Principality of Monaco (2-3 July 2011): “So... he is the son of the man presently ruling Monaco?”...
“ Albert is the present ruler, Dad...his father is dead...”
“Prince Rainier died?!!!”

I was showing Dad my new passport :
" Ya baba...this is a Beauty ! "
Can't wait to show him my driving license!!!...

Dad needed more cologne:
"Cologne baba...not perfume..."
I bought him 2 bottles of his favourite Roger & Gallet:
"Thank you, baba. How much did it cost?"
"£60 Dad...which is on the cheaper end of perfume these days."
"How much was one bottle?"
" £ 30,Dad.."
"£30 ?!! Oof....”

 9.57am London time: I called dad to tell him to expect a package for me but he was more concerned about the whereabouts of his carer:“ No body has shown up...”
“ Don't panic, Dad... " I replied."They don't start before 10.00am..you still have a few minutes to go.”
“Can you call them ya baba? Please? Tell them my escort hasn’t arrived .”Oh,Boy....

My sister and I were starving after our early flight in from New York and since we were taking Dad on his daily walk, we decided on an outdoor cafe and brunch. They tucked into a hearty plate of scrambled eggs while I munched on jam and toast. Once we had all wiped our plates clean, Dad turned to my sister and said:
“I suspect they used powdered eggs...”
“ Why on earth would you think that,Dad?”
“ Because all the pieces look exactly the same,” he replied.
“This isn’t WW2 ... we are not on rations.”

Dad would often go away on business when we were kids and after one such trip abroad, he found himself in the back of a cab on his way home from the airport. Now Dad is only chatty and inquisitive when he is in the mood to be but on this particular night,he wasn’t...: 
“So guv’...Wha’ you been doin' today ?”
“ Minding my own business !"
“ Alrigh'... no need to be facetious!”

Now Dad told his brother Uncle N. all about the cab ride and how he put the overly inquisitive cab driver in his place. My uncle was very impressed and on his return to New York, decided to put this line to use as soon as he got the opportunity. With luck and armed with Dad’s zinger comment, my uncle found himself in the right situation . The cab driver started to chat and before long came the question:  
“ So what business are you in, sir ?”
My uncle replied with unmitigated glee:“ Minding my own business .”
“Oh yeah?” replied the driver undeterred. “And what business is that ...?”
Unfortunately the subtlety was lost on the New Yorker and my uncle was left to face the music.

My Dad had a secretary by the name of Ray,she was a sweet natured woman but one who could talk the hind legs off a horse and every other farm animal in the vicinity as soon as you had the misfortune of saying :” Hello Ray...”
One morning my Dad called her into his office and asked her to take down a letter:
“ Dear sir, " he started,"as mentioned during our last conversation...” and Ray interrupted him in full flow.
“ Mr. Adeeb? I think you should start by mentioning..." and off she went.
“ I tell you what Ray..." said Dad cutting her off, "why don't you write it....then give it to me to sign."

 Back in the late 70s , one of our erstwhile drivers Nesbit aka Nes; a short man with greased back hair and a rather strange demeanour, had a predisposition for platform shoes - black with a brown side panel as we recall. Now those hideous shoes were the butt of many a joke in the family and we couldn't help but stare at them.
Some afternoons, Dad preferred to walk home from the office and one fateful day he found the hapless Nesbit sitting in the hall ,one leg crossed over the other,the vile shoe in full view.... My Dad looked at him and said:
 "Do you pay ground rent on those?"

As I have already mentioned, Dad often went to New York and always made it a point to hook up with his elder brother: Uncle N. aka " The Cap Hatter”(his predilection were flat caps)who lived there. Theirs was a relationship based on love, light banter and sarcasm: the latter courtesy of  Dad.
My uncle wanted to take his brother someplace new for drinks, to show off his town and to get him away from their usual haunt : The New York Palace Hotel and the piano bar at the bottom of the sweeping staircase. My Dad is a creature of habit and to get him to try anything new is an exercise in patience and herculean will.  My uncle could not be deterred nor talked out of it, so off they went to rooftop terrace at the Peninsula hotel on 5th ave, to enjoy their evening drinks outdoors and up in the heavens. 
Next day we asked Dad if he enjoyed it and what it looked like...he simply replied : “It’s a shanty town.”

Several years ago , we wanted to gift Dad with a new watch , so on one of our trips to London we took him into Cartier ( Cartier was the be all and end all of jewellers to Dad). He selected a particular model which the sales man proceeded to slip around his wrist. As he clipped the stainless steel buckle shut with a flourish, Dad let out a rather loud:
“OOF!” ..
“What ’ s wrong , Dad ? ”
“Ya baba he clipped it on my skin !”
(Now where we’re from “ oof ” is generally used to express surprise but never pain. . ) So while the red faced sales man quickly rushed to his rescue , we were bent over double howling with laughter .
He has since been the proud owner of the Cartier “OOF” watch .

Dad has always been a keen eater of roast chicken and Partridges would invariably be the place to go and get one. We would always get to the counter that bit too early and have to face the wrath of the old gruff French man in the plaid cap who ran the counter with a steel fork in one hand and grease proof paper in the other:             
“Id ‘eez too early monsieur...come back in ‘alf an ‘our.”
“I want it now”.
“But ‘ow do you want id cooked?”
“Medium rare...”
“Dad! This isn’t steak ...Have you never heard of salmonella??? You are a prime candidate my friend.”

During one of our phone calls and running out of things to chat about, I ask Dad:
“So which one of the girls came today?”
“Ya baba this man showed up...3 metres tall!”
“Whaddaya mean a man showed up?”
“He said he came from the agency...”
“I told him: I don’t want you! ...Can you imagine me walking down the road with this man holding my hand? What will people say?”
“First of all, he wouldn’t have held your hand Dad, he is a carer not your lover...and second of all, I have news for you, nobody cares! What is so different when you are out walking with one of the girls?”
“Very funny... They think I am out with my daughter...my niece...”
“Watch where you are going with this old man...”      

 During one of our many jaunts to New York with Dad , we stayed at his favourite hotel , the perennial Waldorf Astoria... not one of the best anymore, but he had such fond memories of the place , so who were we to mess with that. I was waiting for him and my sister in the lobby when out they popped from the elevator, mischievous smiles playing around their lips. They had shared the ride down with a woman and her boisterous kids and just before they got to the ground floor, Dad lent over to her and said :
“How long has this show been on the road? "

Dad, once a voracious reader has given it all up of late for quiet contemplation and reading over our shoulders. I was reading the newspaper one Sunday morning and Dad, having turned it down when I offered it to him claiming he was not in the mood, suddenly exclaims:
“What is that all about ... (reading out part of the front page headline)....”
“Dad! ...Why don’t you read it when I have finished?”
He mumbles his displeasure at my statement.
Once I finished, I hand him the paper and he starts to fiddle with the pages while I pick up a magazine:
“Who is that man clutching his face?....”

Every Saturday outside “Partridges”on the Duke of York Square, a lovely and lively area,there is an open farmers market with glorious food and fresh products . We took Dad there when it first opened and we immediately made a bee line for the fresh fish stall which was in a small caravan like stand. Dad loves fresh fish and proceeded to order fillets of cod and just as the guy was to hand our purchase over , Dad piped in :
“ Now fry it up!”...                                   

 Over Easter my sister and her husband, who is Italian, ordered and carefully prepared a “capretto”/baby goat for their meal. My Dad who loves to discuss food and cooking listened intently and then he asked:
“So...you brought it home alive and then slaughtered it?”

On my last trip to London I had come a day earlier in order to spend some quality Dad time. So that morning I took him for coffee instead of the usual carers. After he enjoyed his daily latte and scone we started our walk to the elevator. I was ahead of him and as I turned to check on his progress, I found him slowing down and pointing with his walking stick at a 5 penny coin on the end of a discarded tray:
“ Miss?”
The lady looks up, giggles, smiles at him and pockets the coin.
“Very chivalrous of you ,you old charmer.”
“Well, she was going to forget it!”
“ Dad..it’s 5p not gold bullion. And why call her Miss? She was easily in her 60’s.”
“ What do you want me to call her? Mama?”
“ Mam would have sufficed.”

Once we had finished running an errand, Dad was ready to go home:
“Let’s cross the road, ya baba...”
“Why Dad?”
“Because there is a Taxi rack....”

We both were desperate to go to the toilet once we got home. As Dad came out and saw me hovering at the door “Tatler” in hand, he exclaimed with glee:
“Oho! This needs a magazine?....Must be a big one!”

With all the pomp and circumstance of the Royal wedding I called Dad that evening to chat about it :
"Ya Baba I am watching the wedding...You want to talk now?...Well make it fast...."
So much for indifference.

When my sister called Dad yesterday, she wondered whether she had woken him from his nap...Dad was awake but....
"Well, I have been snooping...Is it snooping?"
"No Dad, you mean snoozing...."

Many years ago,during Dad's creative period, he would come up with the most interesting pieces:
"Dad? What the hell is that belt you are wearing?"
"Do you like it? I got it off the suitcase strap..."

Following our conversation last night, I enquired whether the "Truck" had resurfaced(*for all new readers,the "Truck" is explained further down...*)
"Obviously I am not their only client (the healthcare service)but I am their BEST...shame on them for sending me her!"
"Dad? First of all: What makes you think you are their best client?"
"I know I am."
"Okayyy....and secondly, there is no conspiracy behind this poor woman you have taken a dislike to.They may have simply assumed she would be a good choice for you and your needs."
"Ya baba, she is part Truck!"

Dad, a few days ago,as he answered the phone:
"Was it you who just rang?"
"No Dad. It could have been your niece Y who has been trying to call you.I told her she had to let it ring a lonnnnng time before you answered. She may have given up."
"Well it did ring a lonnnnng time ."
"Well why didn't you answer if you heard it ring that long?"
"Well when I did...they hung up."

Do you remember the time when George W Bush choked on a pretzel? It made all the headlines,obviously...Dad was perplexed:
"Ya baba,what is a Prestel?"
Of course we were in hysterics:
"It's PRETZEL Dad !"
"Ok ya baba ! But WHAT is it?"

Dad has always had an absolute obsession with padlocks. Having recently crossed the Pont des Arts and seen all the padlocks...I remembered Dad and past conversations:
"I just bought a new suitcase,Dad..."
"Does it have a padlock? No?...Here have this one."
There was always an abundance of padlocks amongst Dad's things,he would mysteriously pull one out of nowhere and hand it to you like a shiny penny. But there were the odd times when he would come a calling...:
"Is that a new suitcase? Does it come with a padlock? Good, can I have it?"
"Dad! Why do you need another padlock? I need this one."
"I want it."

Dad told me that his favourite carer, Imelda will be away for 5 weeks and when I asked him who would replace her he replied:
" I hope they don't send me The Truck...she is huge."
"Is she fat or very tall?"
"Both...she is monumental. If she comes,I'll just send her home."
"Hang on Dad,let me call and find out who they will send.Do you remember her name?...I can't refer to her as The Truck!"
"No I don't....Just call her The Pickup..."
" I'll send an email asking for someone as nice and efficient as Imelda.."
"Yes....better that we don't talk about the heavy stuff."

Dad had an appointment with the chiropodist,who was coming to the flat to tend to his feet:
"Dad,after your shower,don't put on your shoes and socks,because Kay is coming....just put on your slippers."
"Ok, ya baba."
Dad comes into the sitting room all dressed and ready including shoes and socks:
" Dad! What did I tell you?"
"She's going to take them off anyway!"

"Dad,remember way back when, when we used to make fun of this ad on tv and say:" We gonna wha,wha...T..W..A"?
" Not really. But I used to say such funny things."
"Believe me Dad,you still do....

"Dad,it's Reem's birthday today."
" Why didn't anybody tell me?..."

"Dad? We are going to Waitrose,do you need anything?"
"Can you get me some toothpaste, you know Synodino..."
"You mean Sensodyne..."

I went out and bought a grooming and hair clipper kit so complete that I could set up a salon in Dad's sitting room. I was so outraged at the state of his hair and more specifically his eyebrows after a so called appointment at his local Sassoon salon.The man's eyebrows looked like startled starfish,they were curling up upon his brow as though they had just been subjected to shock treatment.Dad just smiled at me and watched as I assembled the necessary odds and ends,indulging me:
"Ok Dad are you ready?I am going to start by trimming your eyebrows."
"What? You are going to do them?No,no,no let us not be hasty! What happens if I wake up tomorrow morning and my eyebrows have dropped off?"
"Dad! This is a brow trim,not an experimental treatment."
Needless to say, I did a fantastic job;Dad was preening in front of the mirror and so pleased with the result.The next morning I tried to go for the hair trim:
"No,no no ya baba...you need to take your time and do it properly.What will I look like if you mess up?"
"A darn sight better than you do now,Dad."
He has an appointment at Sassoon's in a couple of weeks and my BF has a new grooming kit.

"Ya baba,your watch is really impressive.What is it ?"
"It's a Swatch Dad."

Dad has been having some trouble hearing of late.Usually all it takes is a change of battery and a filter clean on his hearing aid and he is back in action.But every once in a while, his ears need cleaning too...and it is a battle of monumental proportion:
"Dad,did you go to the surgery to get your ears cleaned by the nurse?"
"Yes baba...she did a professional job."
"Well I should think so Dad,she is a nurse after all,not the receptionist!" Chuckle from Dad:
"She cleaned out all the debris...."

My sister was shooting the breeze with Dad the other night and the weather was discussed:
"What is the weather like Dad?"
"It is medium."
"Dad..in all the years you have been watching the news and the weather forecast,have you ever heard them say that the weather is medium?"
"Ok... it is bearable."
"Dad,let me introduce you to 2 little words: hot and cold...."

Just returned from my monthly visit,Dad now sporting a pair of sideburns worthy of any member of ZZ Top:
"I'll shave tomorrow..."
They are still making their way down his face,they'll soon join his beard and he will officially become Clement Freud...

We were watching the final episode of "Masterchef Australia":
"There is a town called Lawyers there...it came up several times.Did you see?"
"Dad...that's not the name of a town,it's the contestant's profession...you see? This one says "student"...

The cold snap continues in England and there is even snow in Central London. My sister was speaking to Dad today wondering how he is managing:
"Is there any snow in London?"
"Yes there is snow in the garden."
"But is there any on the pavement?"
"Yes,yes baba but people are clearing it up when they walk."
" Well be careful when you go out... I guess if you go down Dad, you'll be taking one of the girls with you!"

"Pretty cold in London Dad,are you warm enough in your jacket?"
"Yes,Yes baba."
"Do you need to wear your cardigan just in case?"
"No,no,no...I'll look like a football!"
"Fine Dad as long as you are warm enough...I was just wondering whether you needed to wear layers."
"What am I....a sandwich?"

Dad is completely infatuated with the new Borsalino hat we last bought him:
"It is really something special...a beauty. The colour is fantastic...ya baba it's silver!"
"Dad..it is grey/green."
"Yes! Yes! Grey/green..you are right."
" Cos the day you wear a silver hat will be the day you'll be doing matinees in Cabaret!"

Dad is always inspecting what we are wearing, he will suddenly zoom in on a ring ,watch or jacket and ask where we got it from, if it is new or simply to admire something he has seen a dozen times but simply can't remember:
"What is that on your wrist?"
"A bracelet Dad."
"That piece of string?....you need a telescope to see it."

We were talking to Dad about the 3 different health care workers that he has watching out for him:
"So what do you think of R. and her special diet of nuts,fruits and vegetables?"
"Ya baba..I am sick to death of hearing about her fruits and nuts..."
"What about the Australian girl...are you happy with her?"
"Borno? Yes ...she is very good."
"Dad..her name is Bronwyn."
"No...she calls herself Borno...Borno Bromfeld."
"Dad, Borno isn't even a name! Can you say BRONWYN?"
"Broadwin?...Broadway?..He he he!"

Dad asked me to make a copy of the post I made on Mom as he wanted to read it. As I handed the copy to him, he sat and stared at the page for a while:
"Dad? Have you finished reading it already?"
"I haven't started yet. Frockanrolla?....What is that? " Too hard to use the word "blog" with Dad..I call it my "online journal".
"The name of my journal Dad...just forget about that and read what is underneath ."
"Is that a drawing of me?...How did you get that?...."

Dad called me yesterday in a fluster:
"Baba...nobody told me we had to change the clocks!"
"I'm sorry Dad."
"The desk clock and telephone have the hour changed ...How did that happen?"
"I don't know how that works Dad,but it does,like my cellphone and computer..it doesn't matter,all you now have to do is change your watch."
"I know...and I will.But how did they change?"
"I don't know Dad! I still don't understand how a fax works ! It just did,don't worry about it."
"I thought there was something wrong with my brain."

"How's the weather holding up on your end,Dad?"
"It's steady."
"Lingo from your seafaring days?..."

"Dad...I will be going away with my BF to..."
"I see....... Will you be taking separate rooms?..."
"Absolutely, Dad".

I while back I called to find Dad agitated:
"Dad? What's wrong?"
"Ya baba I am very,very upset....I can't open the cutlery drawer...it doesn't open more than 1 inch."
"For goodness sake Dad,you scared the hell out of me! Just push something in and rattle it around to dislodge whatever is blocking it."
"Ya baba I can't..all I can manage is to open it 1 inch..."
"Dad,it is not a calamity.Ask R. or I. to help you tomorrow morning."
"No,it is ok...I have all I need in the sink.As far as I am concerned it can stay that way. I don't need anything in there and R.has big fingers and it only opens 1 inch..."
" What is the matter with you? Of course it isn't ok and if you say 1 inch one more time I am going to scream..."

We were in London for our monthly visit and one morning Dad emerged from his bedroom looking dapper but rather squeezed into a pair of trousers that haven't seen the light of day for a good many years. Surprised that he even went delving into the unknown depths of his closet since his comfy trousers are purposely left out for easy access, I was rather curious:
"Dad,you look great!..But aren't these trousers a little tight? Wouldn't you rather change into your other ones?"
"No..they took me long enough to get into them."
"I hate to tell you this but there is the beginning of a hole on your left buttock cheek."
Needless to say he remained squeezed in them all day and with the wee gaping of his shirt he had some kind of osmosis going on. The next morning the trousers were spirited away...

One of our cousins was in town for a visit and like his brother,they always come and pay their respects to Dad and supply a much needed diversion from his routine. This time we happened to be there and after our cousin left,Dad looks up to us and says: " He is a big man."
"Well you're not exactly petite yourself,Dad!"

There was some mix up with Dad's doctor appointment and in the melee he ended up going 3 hours earlier than the booked appointment...When I called him that night and he told me about mix up,I was as angry as he was,but  he seemed to take it much harder:
"I am boiling!"
"Are you hot Dad?"..weather was quite warm that day in London.
"No.. from nerves! This was the worst day of my life!"
"Come on Dad..this was a botched appointment not a hostage situation."

He did end up seeing his ENT specialist the following morning and his hearing had improved. That night it was my sister's turn to check up on him and to see how he was feeling:
"How did your check up go Dad ?"
"Doct P. is such a kind man. He scratched out  all the debris from my ears.
He is like a brother to me...."

Dad cancelled his appointment for a haircut, one I made for him when I was last in London and he didn't bother to reschedule... When we spoke about it last night,
 he told me that he would see to it some other time because what was the hurry after all:
"Don't be ridiculous Dad! Your hair looks like a rain cloud and let's not mention the Brezhnev eyebrows... the carer will book another one and that's the end of the story."
This morning the phone rings: "Hello baba! I am dressed and ready. At what time is my appointment at the hairdresser's? My hair is in a terrible state!"

 After visiting with Dad for a while, time came for us to leave and join our other halves:
"I don't want to keep you from your beaus"..
"Dad...this isn't Charleston."

On our recent trip to London,my sister and I spent time chatting to Dad and in one conversation we were trying to ascertain the age of a certain relative:
"Dad,how old is uncle M? Isn't he older than you?"
"Well , if I am pushing 80.."
"Dad..you are 80, you can stop pushing now ."

One morning a while back I found blood on Dad's pillow , in a wild eyed panic I rushed to him in the living room and said:
"Dad! Didn't you see the blood on your pillow ?... Where does it come from ?"
" That's not blood,baba...it is dirt mixed with a little water ."

It was my sister's turn to call our Dad yesterday and contrary to the lengthy and fulfilling conversation I had with him the day before,it went a little like this:
"Hi Dad...Reem said you spoke to your nephew the other day."
"I did? When was this?"
"I don't know! You're the one who told her!!"
"And ? ...What did he say?"