A few successful Amdavadis pay tribute to their fathers who helped them follow their dreams, without any recrimination : as told to Priya Adhyaru-Majithia

A father is a child’s first hero. As for the hero, his little miracle is his life. It is instinctive for both of them to care for each other — the child feels the need to earn his hero’s praise while the father wants his offspring to have the best in life. It is also normal for a father to have certain expectations for his child’s future. But what happens when the hero’s ‘little miracle’ fails to tread on the path he had charted out and instead charts his own way?

Mirror spoke to a few successful Amdavadis, who pay tribute to their fathers who not only helped them to buck the trend and follow their dreams, but also supported them without recrimination.

PRANAV JOSHI, 35, Chef : CHICKEN SOUP FOR FATHERS

The first time I told my father that I wanted to become a chef, I was calling from Perth, Australia, where I was pursuing a course in hotel management. He was speechless,” says Chef Pranav Joshi, 35, an established chef consulting restaurants in Dubai, Ahmedabad and Munnar. He also heads a cooking academy in the city. His father Mahendra Joshi, 60, is a retired banker. “The stunned reaction on the part of my father is understandable considering before leaving for Australia, I hadn’t even made a cup of tea by myself. It was only while handling weekend jobs in Perth to earn a few extra bucks that I got interested in cooking,” says Pranav. Anyway, Pranav’s dad wasn’t very happy. “I expected that. He disapproved. But he didn’t use his disapproval to stop me. In fact, he told me that if I felt strongly about becoming a chef, I should go for it.
‘Follow you heart, but give you passion your 100 per cent dedication,’ he told me. And I am always going to be grateful for his words of wisdom. But he understood my passion and didn’t dissuade me,” says Pranav. Today, Pranav’s father has reconciled with his choice of career and is also very proud of his son’s accomplishments.

SANAT SHODHAN, 71, Businessman : Wildlife photographer CALL OF THE WILD

Real talent in a person shines only if one gets a disciplined grooming with the right touch of restraint, something only a father can give,” says Sanat Shodhan, 71. “Fortunately, I got it from my father Jayentilal Shodhan, who owned three huge textile units in 1960s. My father, naturally, was keen that I join my family businesses. However, I was deeply interested in pursuing sports and photography.” After 1956, when Sanat won his first junior title for tennis, he continued to play tennis, participated in table tennis tournaments and grabbed 116 trophies by 1970. “But along with sports, I also joined my father’s business in 1962. It wasn’t easy. I had to prove that I could perform well on both fronts. My father was a mono-minded businessman who expected me to focus solely on business. But he also appreciated my achievements in sports. One day, he gently told me, ‘If you think you can perform well on both fronts, please do’,” says Sanat. Later, Sanat diversified his business into chemical industry. By 1995, he had also taken up wildlife photography as a hobby. Sanat has won 60 international and national photography awards and is the only photographer in state who has earned an honorary degree in wildlife photography by Associate-ship of India International Photographic Council, New Delhi.

JAYSHREE VYAS, Managing Director of SEWA : ACCOUNTING TO HIGHER SCALES

When I decided to become a chartered accountant, a career in accounting was a male bastion,” recounts Jayshree Vyas, managing director of SEWA and only committee member of National Women’s Bank Committee from Gujarat. Jayshree says, “Pursuing CA meant visiting various unknown industrial zones and doing articleship in various industries during 1970s. At the time, there were not many women venturing into the accounting world. I chose to do it. To say my father Ashwinbhai was annoyed would be an understatement. He told me kaik sidhu karone (Do something straightforward that suits you).” He would see me working hard towards my goals and would affectionately comment, “Kem pet choli ne peeda ubhi karo cho (Why put yourself through so much of pain.) But, he was thoroughly disappointed when I decided not to get married. I was focused on my career and felt marriage won’t work for me. However, dad never pressured me.” Jayshree adds, “Today, my father understands me and my goals. He is not worried for my future. He is proud of me. Above all, I am grateful to him that he accepted my decisions and allowed my progress. He could have buried me under societal set-up and conservative expectations, but he did not,” she says.

AMIT AMBALAL, Painter : PAINTER’S ALGORITHM

Born after five daughters, Amit Ambalal is the only son of noted industrialist Ambalal Himmatlal. “I was born when my father was in his late thirties. To top that, I was seen as his only heir. Naturally, he was keen for me to join the family business. In fact, I pursued BA, BCom and LLB and later, as per my dad’s decree joined the family business. But I was an artist at heart,” says Ambalal. He joined his family business in 1965 and managed it till 1979. “My artist heart would never be in business. I would often feel as if I have been shackled to the business and I would often tell my father the same. When it became unbearable, I took a decision and told my father that I intended to pursue arts. In 1979, I told him that I wanted to sell off the business and take up painting fulltime. Fortunately for me, he agreed. I got a good deal and sold off the factories in 1980. The same year, I also held three solo painting exhibitions in the city. My father, the staunch businessman, was touched by my work. He was finally convinced that I had taken the right decision.”

Amit feels extremely indebted to his father. “In those times, no one could have accepted such a decision. I was called the black sheep of the family. But I am happy that my father could reconcile with my choice in career and supported me,” says Amit.

The article appeared on June 16, 2013 in Ahmedabad Mirror, page 8.

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