Archive | December, 2014

Let’s go to the mall

23 Dec

So my in laws bang opposite a mall in Bombay and in the two weeks I spent with them, Bandar and I ended up at the mall atleast once a day.Random thoughts…

Bandar is seriously a fun lilttle girl at clothing stores. I have to hold up two colorful kurtis in front of her and ask her which one is better. She will almost always pick the one, I would myself. She will then insist I buy it but there are only so many kurtis a girl can own. Then I have to usher her out before the tears start with some distraction.

There are always ample distractions . There is the train that Bandar loved. Then the remote control cars.The irritating guy with the controls would be sitting in a corner but insist on starting up the car everytime a toddler passed. As if on cue,Bandar would ask for a ride.Some days I obliged and on others I shamelessly fibbed that the car wasn’t working.

The food! OMG. The restaurants at every price range. The food court. Seeing sari clad aunties animatedly ordering the subway sandwiches.A group of school boys at the Mad over Doughnuts store. For me, there was all the desi modified fast food to try. I got a tummy bug before I had my fill of these sadly. I am talking desi taco bell and paneer zinger at KFC. Someone please tell me how these were.

The prices blow me away each time. I am talking furniture and clothes stores. Are people really ready to 90k for a sofa? Is that normal? Maybe its because I have never worked in India and prices in my head are all 2006 prices. Still, I can’t imagine shelling out that much in rupees for a couch. Isn’t it close to the post tax amount a upper middle class family might make a month?$ 1500 seems an awful amount in dollars too. But then I haven’t bought nice furniture in a while or ever. Someone enlighten me please.

I loved seeing older aunties check out treadmills and exercise bikes. Fitness seems to be gaining importance in people’a lives. This is in line with the random protein supplement shops I see sprouting up all over the city and. Awesome.This I love.

How can I not mention the awesome people watching. I loved seeing older people, dressed up almost to go the mall. Were they having dinner at one of the nicer restaurants, I wondered? My favorite mentally saved image is that of an old uncle and aunty sharing a bowl of ice cream by the mall fountain. They did not appear to have any shopping bags, and seemed to be almost on a date. Malls appear to be a safe environment for couples of all ages to hang out. Away from parental supervision, a place to stroll around in the air conditioning , hand in hand or canoodle in a corner. I played a mental game of counting the couples and imagining their story. Did they work together, go to high school or college?I can almost imagine the conversation at a home where a girl bids goodbye to her mom, saying she’s going to the mall with friends only to meet up with this less than desirable guy.

I was having this conversation with a friend that India is now like the US of the 70s and I really think this mall culture is a huge part of this era and here to stay. I know I should probably be disappointed about smaller local shops dying out and thinking about the bigger picture of supporting the smaller artisans, local brands etc but funnily enough I am not. I got to grab a movie with my sister while my almost senior citizen parents spent a few joyful hours with their grandchild on aforementioned rides, food court and riding up escalators.What’s to hate about that?

Desi Fahmuhlee

13 Dec

I am halfway through my India trip and am ready to embark on the second leg. This time with my family. Yeah! To be fair, this first leg without the husbadoo at his place hasn’t been terrible but it obviously is not the same as being home with your parents.

I have met so many of the husbadoo’s relatives this time around, ones he himself has hardly interacted with. Most have been really nice and welcoming. Of course desi style detailed gossip is a part of these meetings. Here are some general themes and tidbits.

Why do we liveĀ in rented accommodation in NYC, unlike so-and-so’s sister’s daughter’s uncle who lives in a palatial mansion with a backyard in the middle of Iowa or some other mid western state.

Several pitiful sighs at my grey hair and weight loss and lack of nutrition in general. When I mentioned I had 7 more pounds to get to my pre marital weight and was planning on buying an elliptical, an older aunt almost wept in agony.Aren’t dry fruits plentiful and cheap there? Why don’t I eat and nourish myself?

Surprise that we don’t have house help in any form. Why don’t we make use of the lovely desi dabba services you have in NYC, a well traveled aunt asks. Because I enjoy cooking and we don’t eat Indian food everyday – my answer surprises the room as they now visualize their prince (the husbadoo) starving on cornflakes and bread.

Ohhh this one opened my eyes the most to how a large part of modern India still lives. So on this trip, I had the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of the husbadoo’s second cousins. Ones he himself had little to do with growing up. Our kids are the same age and I spent an evening with these women. We are maybe similar in age but their upbringing and living situation is so different from mine. They grew up in a joint family, married into joint families and now live in two bedroom apartments with in laws and their spouse’s brother’s family. They spend mornings in the kitchen from the crack of dawn and afternoons with their kids and evenings with a large social circle in the apartment complex. They appear to love their life, as I do mine. They shook their heads sadly when they heard I manage Bandar all alone most days, and cook and clean and work! I on the other hand on this trip, have learnt that this joint family system works even in this day and age for some women and if they appear fairly happy and satisfied, all is right in the world.I am just a total misfit for this kind of arrangement and hope and pray that if the time comes I can escape it or mature to do it gracefully.

Comments that I am surrounded by ‘radiation’. Radiation from my laptop for work, from my mobile and tablets.I have stopped trying to explain this one.

General sadness that we don’t get time to go on a pilgrimage each year. What do I even say to this one?

Shock that Bandar isn’t potty trained. Again if we lived in a joint family in India, she would be now.

The coming years

11 Dec

Conversation with Bandar

Me: Bandar, are you ready to use the potty?

Bandar: No Amma, one day.

M: But when Bandar?

B: When I become three. I will use the potty and get a scooter.

M: What about when you are four?

B: I will get a puppy! But I have to pick up its poop and give it a bath.

M: What about when you are five?

B: I will get a baby sister!

M: What about when you are six?

B: I will go to Disney World. (after some thought) With my baby sister.

I try and end the conversation there. This is a frequent one we have with her at home and we usually stop at six.

B: What about when I am seven , Amma?

M: (Surprised now)You tell me. What about when you are seven?

B: I get a baby brother and then when I become eight, I will take him to Disney World!