I went to the Shreyas School in Ahmedabad where there were a lot of East-African Gujarati guys in my class. They were all older than me. It so happened that two of them fancied themselves to be in love with me. I was only 11 years old at the time and had done nothing whatever to encourage them. However, the two ended up having a big fight over me.
The principal who also happened to be my aunt summoned my father to bring the incident to his notice. I was extremely upset as I was not at fault. My father took me aside afterwards and said, You can be like everybody or you can be yourself and get stoned for it. If you want to be yourself then youve got to be prepared for the stoning as well. Think about it.
For two days my mind was consumed by his words. In retrospect I realise that that was the turning point in my life. Since then I have always lived life on my own terms and been stoned for it. But I have said exactly the same things to my two children.
As a child I was extremely mischievous. I was a part of a big gang somewhat along the lines of the Secret Seven. We would often go out in search of adventure. Once we went into a forest in Baroda and climbed up a tree. As I sat on one of the branches, I found that I was actually sitting on a scorpion. And it promptly bit my bottom. It was horrible! To this day I remember the incident and am scared of scorpions. The gang had to rush me to a local tribal doc who crushed some leaves and applied a paste.
Theres another incident that I still remember. I was only six years old at the time. There was a railway crossing near my school, which was separated from the compound by a barbed wire. Being rather reckless, I took up a challenge with my friends who dared me to fly high up on the school swing.
As I went up, higher and higher, egged on and cheered by my friends, I suddenly lost control and landed on the barbed wire. I remember my friends trying desperately to get me out of the wire.