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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hello Aunty!!

I left India in 2004 and landed in Portland, Oregon. The first week outside India I was thrilled to see any fellow Indian on the streets of the USA. I greeted every Indian I met with a smile whose warmth and emotion is perhaps best reserved for long lost twins and separated lovers reuniting on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire". My greeting had varying results. Some people acknowledged my smile weakly after looking around them to make sure I was looking at them ( or maybe they were looking for closest exit) or surprise/ shock followed by putting their head down and walking away with a ever quickening pace. Soon I realized that since I went to graduate school and my degree was in engineering Indians on streets was not a yahoo moment but something that I should come to expect (We did form two thirds of the population of most of my classes).

So the general "Indian spotting" got old for me. I made some Indian friends but did not stalk all the Indians who had enrolled in my college or rented an apartment in my neighbourhood. I settled down and opened up and the Indian thing was soon a lot less important.

I have, however, noticed a quirk that first appeared in college and though it is dormant for the most part, rears its head every once in a while. There is no way of saying this without sounding weird but I find elder Indian parents just irresistible. My stalker alter ego, it seems did not disappear altogether -- it had only morphed itself. I am not normally a very friendly person and it takes me time to actually get a good conversation going. But with the parent type introductions, communication etc was just not a problem. I found myself brazen in my introductions and almost forceful with conversation - "Hello Aunty!!! ". In Oregon with its relatively sparse Indian population I once followed a kanchivaram saree clad maami around in the vegetable aisle offering to help carry stuff until she looked uncomfortable, suspicious and shuffled off to the checkout counter with what I suspect was only a couple of bunches of coriander (not the most convincing grocery list). When I shifted to New Jersey with its large Indian population I found I was much more at home. So I thought all my India withdrawal symptoms had disappeared altogether. Little did I know.

This Sunday husband and I went visiting old friends and lo and behold I found the mother was visiting them. All my old symptoms were back. Hello Aunty!! I followed the lady around and watched her dole out 20 fluffy chapathis with total absorption. I gushed non stop throughout the meal and kept offering to serve the lady the food she had prepared while spilling food on her lovely shawl. I enquired about when she was leaving for India and came up with different occasions for them to visit us. I also made mental plans about how I was going to get myself invited again. After spending a good hour behaving in this fashion I reined myself in and said my goodbyes. The India fever had clearly not been cured completely.

And if I am honest with myself, this fascination of mine is probably not just about missing India. Though I will never admit to missing my mother to her face, I do wish we could spend more time together so we could disagree about every single thing under the sun say over a meal I made that she is still complaining about. I have visited fairly often and we do a lot of arguing over Skye but it hardly as good as the real thing. I think I might actually admit to missing her if I say do something drastic like act on my whim of kidnapping of my friends parents or start making crank calls Ka Ka Ka Kiran style. Until then.....

Recipe - Made dabeli this weekend. I did not contribute to our dinner table much this last week.We went out a couple of times and the husband has cooking bug so insists on cooking almost everyday. I am going to milk it while it lasts :)

9 comments:

Devaki said...

I miss my mother too. And each time I go to India or they come here, we end up fighting like crazy! R gets tense with our fights sometimes. We have a saying in Marathi that goes something like - can't live with you and can't live without you... sounds much better in Marathi actually! :)

Oho, and you wont need to kidnap any aunties this summer at least with S' parents around.

Btw, your word verification threw up 'uppit' for me to type in. That's the Kannada word for upma... With this double whammy of dabeli and upma, I am suddenly feeling hungry now. :) I am going to try the dabeli this weekend.

stringOfPearls said...

true what you say. This summer should be better :).
Mothers been visiting brother in Singapore and that is annoying me too.. damn these cheap tickets to singapore...

rads said...

ha, am so glad one other daughter loves fighting with mom! It's a daughter thing me thinks ;-)

Thanks for blogrolling, appreciate it :)

stringOfPearls said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting. Appreciate it.

You are welcome. I really like your writing.

It probably is a daughter thing... reassuring that there are so many other daughters :).
Keep visiting.

Y said...

i loved this post! haven't read your blog before much, apart from the first post but clearly i have some catching up to do.

it's your friend, Y, by the way. idjit. stop disappearing off face of planet.

stringOfPearls said...

thank u... for comments regarding blog

and hmph....for comments regarding me.
u are the busy one.. stop giving me crap.
How have u been?

Sindhu said...

This was an amusing read. The "Hello Aunty!!!" part of it cracked me up. :)

stringOfPearls said...

Thank you Sindhu...
I actually sound like that sometimess....

nishitak said...

Totally understand the feeling! I used to get like that when we were in US too...