Me, Dad and Discovery of NEW Moon As a teenager-iyer, during pre mobile era, I never bothered to learn about religious symbols. In the case of Iyers, they sport on their forehead vibhudhi or sacred ash and Iyengars sport a namam in white and ochre U or Y. Dad was to proceed on official tour and should at best leave home by 11 a.m. It would need clear two hours to reach his train departing from Central at Chennai. Luckily the sun was at its usual brilliance. With the itinerary on hand, he was criss-crossing the hall. It was half past eight and yet the regular family priest not turned up yet. There was no way to CONNECT or contact or expedite the priest. Dad was already in readiness, clad in traditional style - a cotton dhothi worn with central frontal pleats. Since seven in the morning, he ensured that the sanctity of the venue is kept not marred and materials for the performing the ritual gathered kept handy. He was waiting for the priest to arrive to perform the amavasya ritual to be followed by his daily prayers, brunch and to proceed to Central railway station from this far off suburb. Before leaving for the college to write exam, I sought his blessings and also I wished his tour a success. While I was about to pedal forward, to proceed to my college (late ex-President Dr. Abdul Kalam studied here), whence dad from doorstep, told me in a soft tone I must en-route, check the priest at latter’s residence. I stood and rode my ramshackle bicycle pedaling in tearing hurry; while negotiating a sharp turn near a crowded Vinayak temple, I spotted on an Atlas bicycle - the family priest- a lanky hairy chested man, with his ear lobes dangling with shining golden studs, sporting lustrous stripes of ash on his forehead, clad in unbleached cotton dhoti worn in traditional style. A feeling of satisfaction arose. I assumed the priest would go home and yes – dad will not be delayed. On his shining bicycle with a tiny saffron pennant fluttering on the silvery handle-bar, the priest darted toward me and stood on one foot across my path. In harried tone, he told that he was busy with some unscheduled events and would not be proper for him to visit our home and therefore I must convey this status to dad to make alternate arrangement. In a huff, I took sharp U turn reached home and told dad. He uttered the word “dharmasangad” and told to fetch another priest and thus my hunt for a priest just re- began. As (ill) luck would have it, in a few minutes I could locate another priest, whose long shadow was just disappearing at the end of a narrow street and I rode fast and could overtake his shinning bicycle in less than a minute and stood across his path. I was impressed with his fair complexion stocky figure and large tummy and black tuft tied with green satin ribbon and assumed that he would fit the bill. I briefed him of the exigency, dad’s benevolence etc., and to my great relief he readily consented to accompany me. With him behind me riding on his bicycle, I piloted him home. As I approached the precinct of my house, college-going sister from facade looked at us and turning her head facing home inwards, in a cheerful loud voice announced dad of priest arrival. As soon as the priest entered, to wash his feet, she offered him water in a pail. The tall and hefty priest used the water in installments and cleaned his feet wiping one over the other and shook off excess water and stepped into the house in a regal gait surveying the framed pictures on all sides of the wall and then into the hall where arrangements for the ritual kept ready. Squatting over a large rectangular plain wooden plank, my dad had just one glance at the priest forehead, looked bewildered & said in Tamil in distressed tone addressing me, “ennada idhu? Iyengar vadiyar!” (What is this son? you had fetched an Iyengar priest!). The unfamiliar priest stared at me, knitting his eye-brows, angrily uttered through his clenched-teeth “Abishtu” (Numbskull).