February 11, 2008


I think I heard this phrase in Hatari (the cute movie with the elephant...) ages ago and I can't find a word that better describes the past five months of my life. k's parents stayed with us the first three months, my mom joined them the last month of their stay and stayed another two months and my dad joined her the last week! He stayed for a whopping five days with us before he left with mom and we managed to arrange their sashtiabdapoorthy too :)

Some key observations, notes to self about the previous generation during US visits (call them preG):

* If you think preG is going to take a look at your life style and go, "Whoaaa! You guys rock!", you are mistaken. Totally. Understand that they have been living a particular way the past 50-60 years of their lives, there's nooo way they would take a look at you and say, "Geee! Wish we could live like that!" Nope, the house and the car don't do the trick :p

* preG thinks we are a Bhakasura generation, judging us, among other things, by the size of our coffee mugs.

My dad - "Idhu ennadu ivolo perusa? Soup bowl madiri?"
Me - "That's ma's coffee bowl..."
Mom (immediately pipes is) - "They make me have coffee in this big, fat mug, I didn't have a choice!"
My dad - "I am going to courier a dozen ever-silver tumbler-dabara sets as soon as I reach Madras!"

* Dads, especially TamBram ones like to spend. Letting daughters spend in front of them is a NO-NO! In walmart, after half-an-hour of quick shopping for chocolates, pens and other gifts for relatives and friends, we stood at the checkout line and...

My dad - "I will pay. I know my Master card works outside India."
Me - "No"
My dad - Repeat
Me - "No"
Finally, I start snatching the credit card away from him and he pulls it from me. By then the checkout person has finished arranging the items neatly in bags. k looks embarrassed, my mom used to similar situations stands patiently and watches. k tries to mumble a plausible explanation to the counter guy, "Umm, they are fighting over who has to pay". The counter guy seems un-amused. So, anyway, the moral is that just because you earn, don't assume your dad will let you spend. He is the bread-winner of the family. Period.

* Moms don't like dishwashers. They dislike our cookware even more.

Mom - "Ramya, you could have at least bought a few decent stainless steel cooking utensils!"
Me - "I have them, ma"
Mom - "No, I have to use the same vessel to make tea and more kuzhambu"
Me - "We have several others..."
Mom - "But they are in the dishwasher. That is why I said, the dishwasher is useless, you anyway have to rinse, then why load the dishes in again?"

The other day, I took my mom to Williams-Sonoma at the mall.

Mom - "Ohh! There is the vessel I have been asking for to make tea for 1-2 people!"
Me - "It costs $125"
Mom - "Idhukku thaan naan sonnen, India evlovo better, pesama India vanduru!"

* The concept of BPO. This is unique to our family, I guess.

Me - "Appa, I will bake a cake for your birthday..."
My dad - "Why, we can buy it from outside..."
Me - "Illa, I can bake decently, I like to bake..."
My dad - "Have you heard about the concept of business process outsourcing? When you can get others to do it quickly and efficiently, why put in your energy and time to do it? As it is you are so thin..."

Which brings me to another of preG's favourite topic. About how I need to gain weight.

After showing my dad my Salanga Pujai dance DVD, my dad says, "Now I know why you are so underweight. Reduce your dance classes, eat more, you need to gain weight..."

My mom - "That's why she had that pain in her foot, because she is so thin..."

Unfortunately, I sneezed, both of them chime in, "See, you need to put on weight. 110 pounds is a joke! Then you won't sneeze so often!"

* Landlines are essential.

Mom - "Why can't you have a land line?"
Me - "We have 2 cell phones and we work at the same office..."
Mom - "Still, you should have a land line, so we can reach you there also..."
Me - "But I carry my cell with me at all times..."
Mom - "You should have a landline."

So yes, landlines are essential.

And so on, if I can write a booklet about my parents, I can write a mega-serial about my in-laws stay but I'll reserve that for later. Our house has been a whirlwind of activity the past five months. And now it's back to just us and our not-so-great utensils that we will use to cook what we can after the five-month break.


Loga said...

Glad you could arrange sashtiabdapoorthy for your parents at USA :-), I completely agree with ur observations esp 1 and 2
:-), Admire your writing style :-)

Parth said...

Nicely accumulated tales. I can only imagine how 'entertaining' the whole experience must have been :-)

To cite one, my parents would take a short coffee (the kids size) and split it by two :-)

Kat said...

Yes, I fully agree we would be the one who would be one disappointed especially those from TamBram background.

I fully agree about the comments on the Coffee cups and the one parents never allow their daughters to spend more so when she is married.

Sindhu said...

hahaha...i enjoyed reading this post..especially about making coffee and more kuzhambu in the same vessel. Nice one:)
Reached yr blog while scanning blogs:)

arun said...

RS, i tagged you

prabukarthik said...

Nevertheless i think america is one Bhakasura country.

The quantity i got in one spicehut in sunnyvale would be sufficient to serve an entire family in india.

RS said...

loga - thanks, the dates turned out nicely for us so we could arrange the function :)

parth - ha haaa, I had a short coffee when I was in Seattle, never realized there was something smaller than tall!

kat - :)

sindhu - Glad you did :)

arun - Heyyy, long time no chat...

p~k - True, I never order a main course for myself, can never finish it without sharing!

Jennifer said...

I guess I have some time to read your old blog posts. Fantastic! Love the sense of humor. Can you translate Mom - "Idhukku thaan naan sonnen, India evlovo better, pesama India vanduru!"
My tamil is very bad!!
What is a Bhakasura country!!
I have to say though I love drinking filter -and bru- coffee in the tumbler set!! Yum!

RS said...

Jennifer - Thanks.
Translation - "That's why I said, come to India, it's so much better in India"

Bhakasura is a character in Hindu mythology who ate cart loads of food and had an insatiable appetite!

Anonymous said...

My father in law usually teases about the coffe mug.. he packed 2 tumblers this time when we went to India :) i can relate rest with my dad and mom. especially same vessel for tea and more kuzhambu..

Congrats for publishing your book..

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