The Shanty Chaddha Diaries – Why the TyreWala suffix?
“Why do you want to add “Tyrewala “suffix behind your name ?” asked Amit Sharma , Editor of Tyre Times , whom I was meeting for the first time for a proposal to contribute for this magazine .
“My family has always been called Tyrewale family as long as I can remember “. He gave out a wry smile – must be due to my eccentric insistence on having such a tag. I had realized sometime back that it’s better to make peace with your family’s legacy than running away from it. Adding a Tyrewale as a suffix was perhaps my attempt to come to terms with the tag with which I had been living for quite a while now. As they say, if you cannot avoid it, better flaunt it.
To say that it has been easy for me to come to terms with my Tyrewale tag is far from true. It has come after my long struggle to move away from it, but the circle in which I moved always sucked me in constantly reminding me of my roots. This tag had made me struggle in gaining entry into elite professional circles, getting a girlfriend and be taken seriously in my masters by my classmates. They were sure that I will get into my father’s tyre business and was wasting my time and government’s money, but I was sure I was not. I dreamt of working as a professional, traveling around the world, giving presentations and hobnobbing with bankers. I now realize that they were so right and I so misplaced with my ambitions. This is not to say that I have any more regrets in joining my family business. Though a reluctant starter I have started enjoying the whole process of tyre commerce.
As I started getting hangs of the things I got confident that there was so much more I could do with the tyre trade to satiate my start – up appetite , and as a bonus the languid pace of this trade has also allowed me some time to write, a habit I had recently acquired. Further initiatives like Changemytyre.com point to the immense possibilities which this business can have. If these educated young men have not hesitated to get into this business they why should I try to run away from it.
How I got this unintended tag to my surname I can only hazard a guess.
I believe that it must have started with my Daddy Ji paying his visits to my school for my PTM’s, a concept he really appreciated in Springdales. He had studied in a “phattiwala school” – a term used for schools with ramshackle infrastructure and had been very proud of sending me to Springdales. It added to his sense of pride that other kids of his tyre circle friends were studying in lesser schools. Due to his constant reference to his achievement of sending me to Springdales, even my mummy ji started believing that her son studied in the best school in the area. Not surprisingly for her too my school became a badge of honor which she did not miss flaunting at the first given possibility. I often heard aunties commenting that within first 10 minutes into a Kirtan or even a rasam pagari she would make sure that everyone knew that her “shanty ” studied in Springdales and how good his English was.
My father just loved attending my PTM’s and he made sure that he did not miss a one his whole life. On day of the PTM, he would dress up in a safari suit and wear leather shoes which I otherwise seldom saw him wearing. He was rather comfortable in his Bata Chappal’s teamed up with a shirt-pant and it was only for the PTM’s or a visit of some high ranking official of a tyre company that he would get into his leather shoes. In the quest to get ready and look his best he regularly got late and missed the slotted time. He then attempted to jump the que citing an important meeting which he was supposed to attend. This embarrassed me a lot and my constant pestering him to change his habit hardly made any impression on him.
Shortly into conversation with my teachers he would surely slip in that we came from the famous “Chaddha Tyrewale ” family in Karolbagh. I agreed that we were known as Chaddha Tyrewale family but there was nothing famous about us. In fact there are many Chaddha’s in Tyre business in Delhi including a tyre company called, but what else, Chaddha Tyre Limited. For the uninitiated into market places of Delhi, Karol Bagh has been and still remains a popular market in central Delhi especially with ladies. It really is , as the English call – a bazaar , with shops selling ladies centric wares like ladies suits , jewelry , house hold items , smuggled goods etc. It, for some inexplicable reason, is also a thriving tyre market and second hand car sales hub of Delhi. Like most of the Chadha’s in the tyre trade my Daddy Ji also has a tyre shop there which he had inherited from “Bauji” – my grandfather.
Whenever my Daddy Ji mentioned Karol Bagh the eyes of my teachers used to lit up and I could sense that in Chaddha senior they saw a reliable contact who would be able to wrest shopping discounts for them. To make it easier for them Daddy ji was ever willing to oblige. Every woman in Delhi knows Karol Bagh and loves to shop there and my teachers were no different. Soon discussions used to move away from my academic performance to the best shop in Karol Bagh selling sarees, jewelry, electronic items and perfumes. While talking to my teacher Daddy ji would look around and put on a smile and let other parents know that he was much closer to my teacher than them. He also made sure that he spent more time with my teacher than any other parent and laugh a lot to drive home the point in case someone had missed it, all the while dishing out his shop’s phone number to enable my teachers to contact him for getting discounts. Soon it became famous in my school’s teacher circle that Tyrewale Chaddha Ji is the “go to guy “for any discounts required in Karol Bagh. Teachers started referring me as “shanty” from Chaddha Tyre Wale family. My father wanted me to feel proud of the fact that my teachers used to call him and he was always a good guide and help to them. I far from being proud was embarrassed with all the unrequited attention I used to get. I occasionally snapped at him asking him to put a stop to his ” Springdales adventurism “but he maintained that it was required for ensuring that I get good marks in school .To make things worse for me, mummy Ji was also fully supportive of Daddy Ji’s ” marks scoring ” theory as she also felt that at the end of the day it was more important for me to get a good score in school. She was also very proud of her husband’s social networking skills which added fuel to Daddy Ji’s pride and his determination to carry on with it despite my protests.
Though my friends did not let it slip by but they were also aware about me being from “Chaddha Tyre Wale “family. I started getting requests from the friends for getting discount on tyres which their father’s wanted to buy. I would of course give them my father’s number and it was not long before I realized that my father was a closer friend to the fathers of my friends then I was to them.
In the hindsight it perhaps played well for me in the school. I remained favorite of my teacher’s till the end and it did help that I scored well. My friend’s parents also encouraged their kids to be friends with me as I was a well-mannered kid with a resourceful father.
However with the girls it was a separate matter altogether. In my school there was a clear class distinction between the kids of the service class families and those from business class. Service class family kids used to hang together as they had common interests and challenges. Business class kids, in which I was slotted, were considered brash, uncultured, uncouth and flashy. Girls used to admire service class boys as they came from families who watched plays, read books, went on vacations and followed Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We from business families were considered “Jai Mata di ” boys due to mata Ki chowkis and jagrans we held at our homes and the ones we regularly attended in the home of our known ones. In the name of vacations we had our annual trips to Vaishno Devi during Navratri days and Vrindavan during Jananashtmi. Even business class girls preferred interacting with this group which made boys from business class a frustrated lot and they took out their frustration by occasionally getting into fight with service class kids and banging them up . It further screwed their reputation and unintentionally mine reputation too. In short my Tyrewale tag was a huge drag for me when it came to befriending girls. Unfortunately none of the girls ever came and asked for discounted tyres for their father’s cars and hence my daddy ji’s charm factor never came into play here.
Lately, I have realized a person can sound respectable even with the tag name like “Tyrewale”. Just look at surnames like furniturewala, bottliwala, Bandookwala. Their progenies have done well and now carry their surname with lot of dignity and pride. May be moving ahead I will be able to do justice to my Tyrewale surname. Enough for today, Lamba sahib of Falken tyre has just walked in.
“Yes Lamba Sahib, what’s the deal this month?”.