My mother, Protima Bedi, (1949-1998) lived each moment of her life to its fullest. A strong, dynamic, passionate woman, she was an integral part of the flower power generation in India in addition to being an unconventional and fantastic mother, a liberated, free thinking individual, a respected and internationally acclaimed Odissi dancer, founder of Nrityagram and a child of the universe. She may have left her mortal existence but she lives on in the lives of all that she touched and through her life story chronicled in “Timepass”, published by Penguin, India.
My father, Kabir Bedi, was also a part of the 60’s movement that aimed at liberating India from archaic thought patterns. Professionally, he’s a well known international actor having starred in hundreds of films (including James Bond’s Octopussy, Ashaanti with Michael Caine, many Tv series (including The bold and the beautiful, days and nights of Molly Dodd, Knight Rider etc) He’s been an acclaimed theatre actor with productions like Tughlaq and Othello as feathers in his cap, and is a hugely popular and loved figure in Italy after his role as “Sandokan” , participation in “Isola di Famosi” (Italian version of celebrity survivor) and various other television, radio shows/ appearances in Italy.
Personally, he’s the most intelligent, well travelled, well dressed, well informed and gentle man I’ve ever encountered. His intelligence is compliment with wit and incredible clarity of thought.
Anthony by birth, uncle to all, yoonk to me. He's the family cook who came into my life when I was just 6 months old. Yoonk was the man who protected me, massaged my legs for hours late at night when I howled with pain ( I would get the worst teenage growing cramps), played a kickass game of Carrom, (he named his two master strokes as chicken cut and mutton cut ), bossed over me, waited up to feed me after my shoots and parties no matter how late it was. He was the most amazing cook. He'd bake breads, make the best shepherds pie, scotch eggs and the best cold coffees in the world.
There were times I'd run out of money (in my struggling days) and he'd just silently put in his own savings to put food on my plate.
I lovingly referred to him as my "dowry", when I entered my marital home as I could not image a life without him.
He was a part of my home, my family and household till his last moments on earth. I loved and treasured him deeply and I'm so grateful for everything he did for me all my life.
“You can’t stop the rain from falling, but you can either put up an umbrella, or get wet and grumble, or alternatively just dance in the rain.” The most important thing my parents ever taught me was that the quality of my life wasn’t determined by what happened to me. It was determined by my reaction to those experiences.
My childhood was a surfeit of unforgettable experiences. I learnt my ABC’s on the sands of Juhu beach, swung from banyan trees on the highway, my home was a sanctuary for writers, thinkers, philosophers, artists and I used to spend afternoons and evenings listening in on their conversations. I never really had friends my age.
Many have raised eyebrows at their unconventional lives, but I love the fact that they have never blindly adhered to the written or spoken word. They taught me and my brother, Siddharth, to constantly question and not be herded by societal conventions based on “fear” and “acceptability”. They exposed us to the best of life be it gourmet foods, 5 star holidays around the globe, spa treatments, expensive clothes, music and the performing arts and a deluge of books by the brightest literary minds. They wanted us to have the best. Conversely, they also sent us to a military boarding school, taught us to rough it out in tents with campfires, to bathe in rivers, exposed us to poverty, villages, and suffering and taught us to share. Personally, I learnt from them how to be “bigger” than myself, to think “out of the box”, be resilient and see humour in every situation. Professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s crucial to be in love with whatever you do, to be practical, disciplined, professional, and punctual and to pay my taxes. Most importantly, I learnt that personal success outweighs professional success, to accept mortality and to count my blessings.
I came with nothing and I will leave with nothing. I have with me, at present, the gift of life. I thank my parents for it and yes, I intend to live it to its fullest.