Friday, May 30, 2008


My cousin brother J, his wife A, mom and eight month old son were visiting us last week. J completed his MS in the US and is placed with a company in the US. His wife studied in Kerala and was working in Kochi before marriage. They were staying with us so that they could visit relations here and grab a holiday in Kodaikanal before heading back to the US.

During the one week they spent with us, A drove all of us crazy! Before she landed up in Bangalore, she called up my mom and told her that she needed Mineral water to sterilize the baby’s bottles and utensils. She wasn’t too sure of the Aqua Guard water we use in the house! My mom obliged by asking the Kinley suppliers to ensure a continuous supply to the house while they were with us.

What happened next had me boiling impotently! From the time we picked them from the airport till they left, the lady had everyone on the edge and that included her mother in law who accompanied her to spend some time with my Mom!

From the airport to the house, A regaled us with tales of troubles she encountered when she landed in India a week ahead of hubby with the baby. She had apparently flown Lufthansa who were very helpful to passengers like her traveling with a baby. The domestic leg of her travel i.e from Bangalore to Kerala was undertaken in Indian. And the stark contrast in service between the two carriers gave A enough fodder for chit chat for the week she was here and visiting relations. My tart inquiry as to why she didn’t travel first class in Jet or Kingfisher was met with a smooth excuse. Her mom in law mumbled under her breath that A was trying to save money by traveling Indian.

After that it was pure hell. From complaints of lack of oxygen in the air in Bangalore to the crowds and inquiries if the stuff my mom cooked was organic and the content of fat...she had everyone on tenterhooks. My brother countered her questions tongue in cheek till a well placed kick under the table from mom ensured he kept quiet for the sake of family peace.

My mother, the gracious hostess she is, put up with A with the patience of an Indian Electorate waiting for good governance! While A sterilized the babies bottles and washed his plates in Kinley and ensured that the baby ate nothing but the pureed bottle food she had bought from the US, her mom in law ensured that the baby ate rice and fish curry when the parents were out visiting! By the time they left, the baby was refusing to eat the bland pureed food! A almost fainted when she came to know that the baby had eaten the unsterilised Indian food and crawled around the house in her absence! And guess what! The baby never fell sick or had any problems with that! Don't get me wrong. A is a really nice girl. But she seems to have trouble acknowledging the lifestyle she left not so long ago!

This is not the first time we are having visitors from the US with small babies. Most of them are fussy. But A took the cake. Nowadays during weddings and other get together, the joke is almost always on the NRI relations and how soon they forget the India they left not too long ago, like two months in some cases!!

I wonder if it is really that risky for an NRI to live in India after living in the US!

p.s Sorry for the delay in posts and replies to comments but if life were a Ferrari then Schumacher would be my driver. Right now trying to over ride the brakes! *sigh*


Philip said...

"My mother, the gracious hostess she is, put up with A with the patience of an Indian Electorate waiting for good governance!" :) Bravo!

Your mother really had to put up with something. Can't believe anybody would even think of inconveniencing their hosts the way A did.

silverine said...

Philip: lol!! Most NRI's inconvenience their hosts and most hosts like my mom take it for granted and bend backwards to accommodate their "special needs". Some things, like the need for mineral water for kids is genuine! Athihti devo bhava...I guess it is called :)

mathew said... actually sound great when in full steam run!!;-P

I agree fully with you..and infact there is a joke about one onsite returnee who was looking for toilette papier at home after his onsite return...Ofcoz the friends obliged him by providing a huge carton of manorama paper!!

Although it is true to an extent that NRI's(not the odd onsite going fella) do have a higher penchant for cleanliness after a stay abroad..Somemight want to replicate it back home with the best of intentions ..but it is extreme psuedo "elite" who makes us wonder whether they are from Pluto!!

Know countless cases who do these kind of gimmicks..

P.S.happy weekend..

Alex Vitus said...

came across your blog through my google alert. keep on writing!

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

nice@'with the patience of an Indian Electorate waiting for good governance!' :)

g-man said...

indian electorate waiting for good governance. this one made me fall off my chair laughing. nice post! i think my ma's lucky that none of our relatives in the US have small babies :)

The Smokin' WDM2 said...

hahaha rotfl.. it's the getting-worked-up-while-writing that really gives the dash required into the keys... what with the Indian electorate thingy hehe.. good one!

SR said...

Organic stuff for the baby LOL.. But disagree on the NRI classification. My cousin's wife prefer to wash her face with mineral water and she has never left kerala.. What does one have to say about that?
The Kick under the table is so typical of mothers! I've got so many of them that my legs still ache :)

silverine said...

Mathew: I got bheja fried :p That Malayala Manorama act was super! :)) Please post those anecdotes. I want to read and feel that I am not the only one who grumbles about these wannabe amreekans!

Alex: Thanks for dropping by. I spent a good afternoon reading thru your blog! Very interesting! :)

Karthik: :p Thanks!

g-man: Actually people like my mom are terrified that the baby will fall sick and hence they go out of the way! :)

Sriram: lol! Thanks!

SR: I know several friends who wash their hair with Mineral Water. It is actually good for people with scarce growth as the harsh water we get can damage weak hair! And my brother will soon be entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the max no of kicks under the table! :p

Shankupushpam said...

This reminds me about someone who cribs about Mumbai's pollution even after living in the city for 6 years. After a few-years stint in the US, she can't stand the polluted air. She forgot the long 17 years she spent in the city before US happened.

Then, people are like that... :-)

Another thing that came to my mind was an old Malayalam movie, where T G Ravi comes back after a foreign tour and tries to implement the hygiene rules he learned the hard way abroad. That was hilarious.

Deepti said...

People really forget their roots.. I have friends who have married and settled in US and come back and crib about anything Indian .. I wonder how 25 years of your existence can be forgotten in a span of a year ...
Your mom seems to be a real sweet aunty .. so next time I know where to come when I visit Bengaluru :D

Neena Padayatty said...

My NRI aunt was quite fussy about her new daughter-in-law and grandchild visiting my grandparents'place.Grandmum had the time of her life eradicating all those bugs and insects that fly in at twilight.They arrived with a huge carton of Aquafina,brought all the way from the US(coz the Indian version cannot be trusted)and washed plates in hot mineral water.However they all relished the Kerala sadhya by a catering service.My uncle who organized the sadhya,disclosed later,that they would have fainted that if they had seen the grimy "uruli" in which the tasty "kalan"was prepared!

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

I think this is te “other side” of the story:
There was this play that I went to (Jesus Christ Superstar - which was super, by the way) that was a total black tie thing, followed by some good natured wine tasting and pasta.

And there was this guy who just seemed to have got totally frustrated with a country that is too good natured, that he decided to water a tree on Congress street.
Seriously, I am against urinating in public - In India or anywhere else, but I totally sympathize with this guy. He was genuine, and he was only overwhelmed! [:)]

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

@toothless wonder: How are you sure he wasn't just simply overwhelmed by all that free alcohol? ;)

Mocha said...

I didnot know whether to laugh or get angry at ur post. The reason being that I am NRI who has travelled to India unpteen number of time with my little ones.
Before I begin supporting A, I would like you to know I am exactly opposite to A. I prefer certain airlnes when traveling with kids as it makes the trip easy. I am mom who from day 1 exposes the babies to India( mosquitoes, water , food )I have the luxury of exposing the kids as most of trips have been 2 month long. It gets enough time for kids to be exposed to new elements and to adapt.
But for NRI coming home for short trip less than a month they cant really afford to have a sick baby hence all this precautions. You dont want to try new food , different water and we try to control the environment as much as possible. Touch wood the baby was not sick.
I am hardcore Indian who hapens to be an NRI. My kids US citizens love their naadu. they are more Indian than most of their cousins in India. Relax , we dont forget India it is just that the whole trip back home is overwhelming

Nancy said...

Yep, agree totally with mocha.
We come go to India for 1 month vacation & so try to keep the kids from getting sick...i guess in this process some mothers get hyper abt stuff.
I dont really break my head abt food but I do try to protect the kids from the mosquitoes. A tiny mosquito bite results in a huge red welt which lasts for more than a week & leaves a scar for 6 months.

Good post. Nice and newsy:-)

scorpiogenius said...

Well, the mother's concern about her kid is understandable, but this one seems a bit too far stretched.

Yeah, some of the souls who have tasted the West seem to be in oblivion about the life they led perhaps just a few months back.. They even think eating with hand is something like mortal unhygienic, something they have been doing for a good 25-30 yrs..

To be honest, i still yearn for a dosa or chicken fry from Kuttan chettan's thattukada whenever I reach back home..

All the same, nice post to read. And bowing to your mom for her patience!