name: that girl in pink
location: Somewhere, India
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Monday, January 16, 2006

Mi Familia

Driving down Residency Road a few days back I saw a giant hoarding for a movie called Family. Like every Hindi movie ever made in the last 18 months, it had Amitabh Bachchan. He seemed to be sporting some kind of underworld don type of look. I didn’t get a very good look but I’m pretty sure it’s the same wig he wore for Sarkar. And like Sarkar or Waqt or any of the other crap he’s appeared in there is no way I am watching Family. Haven’t these filmmakers heard of a little thing called branding? You can’t name a movie “Family-Ties of Blood” (Yech!!) and then act surprised if it flops miserably. I don’t know when the bloody movie’s releasing but I can bet anything it’s going to vanish without a trace. Family! Puhleeaze!!

Anyway, after scowling and cursing at the poor innocent hoarding, my thoughts started straying towards my own family. The one I was born into and that comes with seven aunts, two uncles and seventeen first cousins! These statistics include both my parents’ sides, but you’ve got to admit, it’s an impressive number. And it’s an impressive family. Close, loving and like I found out a couple of years ago, unlike any other family out there.

The thing with families is that the only one you really know is the one you’ve always lived with. And naively you think that that’s pretty much how all other families must be. Give or take some traits the basic characters should be the same, right? There’s the fun aunt, the strict aunt, the aunt settled in America, the drama-queen aunt, the talkative aunt, the favourite aunt…the list goes on. And each of these aunts comes with a spouse, with equally distinctive adjectives to describe them. The smiley one, the sulky one, the generous one, the golfer, the bookworm, the henpecked one (whom we all feel sad for, even though his wife is the actual blood relative). In the midst of the ladies are the uncles who come with their wives and they make up the entire motley crew..

And then there are the cousins. Ah the cousins! Cousins are like a bunch of kids, who’re about your age, and who you’ve been instructed to love and get along with. That you’re a kid with your own taste means nothing to your parents. “They’re your cousins! Now go spend an entire summer with them.” Some cousins you actually do love. There are some you barely tolerate and some you outright deny any relationship with. But all your life you will keep up the façade of getting along, as will they. You’ll buy expensive air tickets to make it for their engagements in time, rehearse Hindi dance hits to humiliate yourself by performing at their weddings and buy nice gifts whenever you go on phoren vacations. And though you all fall from the same tree, each one’s a character by him/her self and yeah well, I guess just for that, you gotta love ‘em.

Although we come in so many shapes and sizes there’s a lot that binds us together. And again, naively I thought that these qualities abound in every family. But two years ago when I got married and started to get to know my husband’s family, I realised just how wrong I was.

(Mine) Family of gun throats: Let there be known, there is no distance or inappropriate environment that can ever be a deterrent to our communication skills. When we have something to say, we believe in saying it loudly and with our heads held high. We shout from one end of the house to the other, across big stores, in five star hotel lobbies, whilst talking on the phone, at the airport, across the street, wherever, whenever. Technically there are no family secrets because every neighbour has heard them being discussed. If there are four people in the car, all four of us will yap on our cell phones at exactly the same time, at competing volumes. During vacations and weddings our voices touch all-time highs. We are the obnoxious family who ruined the peace and quiet you were hoping to get at your vacation. Free speech is a right we take very seriously and if we have an opinion (and we always do), we will express it.

(His): There are times when I can be sitting in his house, with his entire khaandaan there and not even know it. Each one is in his or her room quietly doing their thing and only when everyone congregates in the living room is their some quantity of noise.

(Mine) Brutally Honest: So you come home for a vacation and meet everyone at a family dinner. As you enter the room full of family members an aunt spots you from a distance. Delighted to see you after almost six months she smiles and gushes, “Hi fatty! You’ve become nice and roly poly in Bangalore!” Inwardly cringing at the use of the F word you smile and step forward to hug her. Just as you’re planning a quick exit, she gushes further, “Your hair is looking lovely! When did you get it coloured?” Ah well, maybe you’ll stay for a little while longer after all.

(His): Maybe it’s too early for everyone to start saying exactly what he or she thinks. As of now, it’s all smiles and thank yous and compliments. And I’m not complaining.

(Mine) Gossip unlimited: We discuss everything about everyone. Gossip is oxygen to us and the rule is, there are no rules. Swearing someone to silence means nothing. If it’s mildly interesting and comment worthy we will talk about it. We will then discuss the comments that were given at the last gossip session. My cousin and I were once actually asked to shut up in a train cuz we were gossiping while other passengers were trying to sleep. We decided to follow the whole I’ve-paid-for-this-ticket-and-I-can-do-what-I-want path and continued chatting. When one is the target of gossip he or she might choose to sulk for sometime. But that’s only till the next interesting tit-bit comes along and then we’re friends again. I suspect, that besides that big noses and identical hair types, gossip might just be the glue that holds the family together.

(His): I think because we have taken gossiping to new levels nobody else matches up. When I’m with my husband’s family we’d have to be really bored at some family friend’s reception to maybe make a remark about the bride’s lehenga. This is immediately succeeded by a statement of what a nice person she actually is and all my follow up remarks about her hair, make up and jewellery are left unsaid.

(Mine) The non-singers: One might think that in a family as large as ours every kind of talent should be available. And yeah, we do have the painters and the dancers, and the sportsmen/women and the great chefs, and the seamstresses and the knowledge databanks, but in this whole motley mix there isn’t one person with any kind of singing talent. Fresh blood has been introduced into the gene pool in hope of infiltration of some musical DNA but it has never been known to survive. At weddings we try and sing in the hope of passing our voices of as rustic Punjabi sounds but sooner or later the DJ is always called upon to rescue us. That’s when we gamely give up the microphone, hit the dance floor and join in loudly at the shava-shava part of the song.

(His): They sing, they dance, they know how to play instruments, they even know the words of their traditional UP songs. Who knows, maybe my kids will acquire some of that musical talent. One can only hope.

(Mine) Irritability: It’s the age we live in. Everyone’s just so busy and has so much to do in such little time that we tend to say it like we feel it sometimes. Most times. When waiting for someone in the car, in less than two minutes we start honking madly. If we don’t get our way the first time, we immediately resort to screaming. That usually pisses the other person off and a full on battle ensues. By the end of it everyone’s exhausted and forgotten what the fight was about in the first place. You never do anything you don’t want to and if cajoled/blackmailed by a parent into doing it you sulk and make your displeasure apparent. Nobody else gives a fuck about your sulking so very soon you give that up and just try and have a good time.


(His): Politest family in the world. Being kept waiting for two hours is met with a smile and I have never ever heard anyone screaming. All disputes are handled reasonably and while it’s all very ideal it also freaks me out at times. How do they take out their day’s frustrations? Don’t tell me yelling at cell phone and bank customer care personnel is enough!

(Mine) Mithai ka dabba: Whenever anybody comes from or goes anywhere, my nani has to give them a mithai ka dabba. Any protests from “I’m on a diet” to “I think I’m diabetic” to “If a drop of sugar enters my blood stream I will die” will fall on deaf ears. At the most, you will be asked your preference and then the maid is sent to the market. Mithai ka dabbas have been sent throughout the country and even sneaked into the US. This habit has seeped down to the offspring, and although the younger generation prefers to say it with chocolates, the sentiment is the same.

(His): Thank God no such rules dictate their household. The fridge is free for you to raid and if you want something you just need to ask.


There are many other differences in our families from the way we speak to the importance of food (it’s of absolutely no consequence to my family and like a religion to his) to relationship dynamics. At first it’s weird and then sort of amusing. And at the end of the day, I think there is some truth to “blood is thicker than water” adage. Maybe it’s the 27 years of getting used to I’ve had or maybe they’re just cooler! All said and done, my family rocks!

Posted by that girl in pink  | 2:54 PM  |  27 comments  

Monday, January 09, 2006

9/1/2006

Happy New Year, my fellow blogoholics!! One week after the predictably disastrous New Year’s Eve party I had, I’m now sufficiently recovered to venture back into this wonderful and weird blog world we all inhabit.

This time I have no New Year Resolutions. (The old list I drew up about five years ago will do just fine, so why bother?) But I do have some Old Year Lessons.

Lesson 1: New Year’s Eve always sucks. Most over hyped, high pressure, expensive waste of an evening one can ever have.

Lesson 2: I will never learn. By the end of 2006, I would’ve forgotten all my vows of bringing in the New Year by myself in my warm bed, and will be fretting about which dress to freeze in and which stiletto heels to torture my ankles with.

Actually, it wasn’t all bad. For about two happy hours, my friends and I found ourselves completely rocking the party we were at. Until one of them got sick and things started to go downhill. From then on it was endless hours of driving, co-ordinating between friends, and one really stupid accident involving an aspiring actor and a flight attendant with surprisingly generous tear ducts. I hate to be pessimistic, but starting your year pretending to care about two drunken nitwits in a stupid hospital really doesn’t seem too promising. Or maybe it’s too early to crib. There are still twelve whole months for many more calamities to unfold. Looking forward to it!

One week into 2006 and I’m still unemployed. No surprise there, considering I’ve made pretty much no efforts to find work. What’s scary is that I’m not really missing having a job, just the money. Otherwise, my new adopted lifestyle of sleeping when I want and for how long I want suits me just fine. In fact, being unemployed has actually lead to some pretty life altering changes.

For instance, it’s shaved 10 years of my age. That’s right, I’m 17 again. The signs are all there. I’ve got two new pimples and I’m obsessed with teen TV shows. I watch The OC on Zee Café and in case I miss it there, on Star World. I call my friend to discuss my views on the actors; I can’t figure out what the big deal about that Ryan dude is, with his whole intense shy Di look. Whenever I can I make sure I catch Life as we know it, That’s So Raven and raunchy teen comedy films. Yeah, life can get really complicated for a teen in America and I totally empathise.

Also, I have a new No. 1 in “My Cares and Concerns of Life.” I have become a celebrity junkie. The warning signs were always there but this time I have really teetered over the line and gotten addicted. From E news (giving us news we need to know) to Top 100 celebrity oops and scoops, I can’t get enough. My views on celebrities are as strong as the pope’s religious beliefs. I know that I hate the god-awful Simpson sisters, am anxious to know how George Clooney’s love life will pan out hope that Britney throws out that good for nothing Kevin Federline (K-Fed to those in the know) out soon.

Yeah, so basically I’m living the life all parents dream of for their kids. An out of work TV addict who’s biggest challenge come in the form of Su-doku. God, I disgust myself. But there is no time for introspection now, Oprah’s about to start.

Posted by that girl in pink  | 1:32 PM  |  6 comments