Welcome and goodbye

Perhaps the greatest pleasure of ‘growing up’ is hosting your family. And I have that simple joy pretty often. From being local guardian to my cousins in college, to my parents who travel through the NCR every two months or so on business. Friends, family who I have never met before at times and acquaintances who just need a place to crash, at times. But my favourite, by far, is having Chhota Nana and Nani (or my maama and maami) over, every summer.

In their mid-forties, they’re young, enthusiastic and fun. And yet, they’re older so I hand over the reigns of my house to them and party like an animal. The kids sleep with them, eat with them and breathe down their necks, staying out of my way, giving me an illusion of being childless, footloose and fancyfree in the Capital again.

It’s just like having my own parents in town, without the hassle of controlling my temper after day 3 as I always have to do when my father and I are in the same house. Invariably tempers fray and doors are slammed and the foundation rocks, as we scream at each other over something completely inconsequential. My mother and the OA pale and come up with creative ways to dispel the tension.

So these times with Chhota Nana and Β Nani are some of the best times as a hostess (if you can call me that, when I am barely surfacing before 9 am each morning!). Chhota Nana walks around the house pulling at door knobs, knocking against walls to check for termites, servicing my AC, hanging up the last few pictures we’d dumped in a corner, adding a little block of wood under a shelf that has a broken leg and fixing my cooler for better cooling. Chhoti Nani reads to the Brat and Bean, stitches little satin roses on to anything the Bean produces, cooks up the most delicious kebabs and biryanis and comes carrying jars of mango chutney. By evening Cousin J and I share a Breezer and are quite giggly and the whole family sits around roaring with laughter and cracking the silliest jokes. Cousin K turns up his 21 year old nose at his two drunk-on-a-shared-Breezer sisters and dutifully helps the OA get my kids into pajamas. All in all, a brilliant situation.

Socialising while they are here is fun too, because most of our friends are in their late 30s and early 40s, with kids the same age as ours. And then there are these youthful grandparents who confuse them – should they call them Uncle and Aunty, considering there is not more than 3-4 years of age difference? At a party last week, Chhote Nana carried the Bean around on his shoulders while the other dads hung around sipping their drinks and saying it was too hot to be bothered. They were fine when they met this young, slight, fit man in his jeans and tee, until the OA made the mistake of saying this is his uncle in law. An awkward pause followed by the sudden realisation that they should call him Uncle. And then my as-yet-not-greying Uncle looking at me in barely disguised horror as many bigger, paunchy, grey, men began to call him Uncle. I teased him about it for days. At some point they began to discuss bikes and I think they forgot to call him Uncle after a cigarette had been passed around.

It’s an odd situation because their own daughter is 20 and studying, but I am their daughter too in every way that matters. Thanks to me they’ve had the pleasure of grandchildren far earlier than anyone in their group of friends – and my cousins who have barely left their teens are disgusted at how besotted their parents are by my kids and wonder aloud why they were not allowed to get away with murder, the way mine are. The oldies (if one can call them that) love our new house and I love walking into their room in the morning and watching them read the morning papers, framed against my backyard and the lilies in the pond. I love the sound of their voices over a cup of tea while we go about our daily business. I love being their child who is now old enough to take them out for a meal or drag them away from their own house for a bit of a break. Of course they are unable to sit still here either, but it’s a little better than being home and working.

When they leave, after the mandatory 2 weeks that I insist they must stay, I feel the light go out of the house. They fit so beautifully into our home, complementing and supplementing, without ever making me feel like I need to do anything, that I feel the void intensely. For days after they leave, the Brat and Bean mope. Which is not something they do with anyone else, other than Baby Button. Thankfully this year they’ve left and barely two days later I have followed and dropped the kids back home.

—————–

I’ve left the babies with my parents year after year since they turned one, for an annual break (they as well as we, need it!). It’s a great idea because the two sets of grandparents – Nana-G’pa and Chhota Nani and Nana, get a chance to spoil the kids rotten without me hovering over them, looking like a thundercloud each time a Kachcha Mango Bite is offered or they watch an episode of Doraemon. A time of absolute freedom, not hampered by the sandwich generation. I know its important for kids to get a break from the schedule of home, that they get to throw routine to the winds and unlearn order. That they realise TV is not the enemy Mama makes it out to be and eating a chocolate before breakfast will not kill them. All very important childhood lessons I am sure. My son is playing cricket with the boys on the street this summer and my daughter is sitting on (not at) her grandfather’s desk, telling his staff that will one day she will run G’pas office. Thankfully its a small town where people find that rather amusing.

Each year I tell them that I’m leaving them there and going off with Dada for a break. This is the first year that the Brat objected. He is Baby Button-crazy and after the first few days of nodding, he suddenly snapped and said – But why can’t we go. Err…. good question. Because its expensive and because your father and I haven’t had a good old holiday since I was expecting you – X’mas 2004in London. Because there will be lots of walking and with two torn ligaments and a bunch of missing cartilage in my right knee, I’m going to be hard pressed to carry myself, let alone anyone else. He agreed and floated off, albeit rather morosely.

Actually I have no idea why we’re not taking the kids other than sheer tradition. This annual ritual is usually a 3-4 day one where we take a break and spend sometime just being a couple. Having had them so early in our married life, the OA and I have been parents almost our entire relationship.Β We come back refreshed and ready to handle the rigours of parenthood for the rest of the year. And the kids have by that time ingested enough sweet to keep them bouncing off the walls for the next month or two. They show no grief when I am leaving for the station, they’re too busy screaming and running around the living room with some family member. (Actually they’ve never cried at a single parting, be it starting a new school or leaving for a holiday – makes me wonder if I’m such a bad mother that they’re happy to be rid of me. But that is fodder for another post!). Last night was the first time they came to the railway station to drop me. On the way, the usually vague Brat looked up and under cover of darkness, said, ‘I’ll miss you, mama,” out of the blue. I was shocked.

My poor kids have had to live with an overly emotional, extremely expressive mother. I spend at least 20% of my time rolling on them, squashing them, squeezing them and telling them how much I love them. The Brat takes after his father, solemnly accepting his fate and suffering in silence. The Bean takes after me by knocking on the bathroom door about 3 minutes into my bath and saying, “Hurry up and come out, Mama. I’m already missing you.” You get the picture.

This year too, they planned excitedly for their summer break with the grandparents. Packing a bag of things to do on the train, helping me pack their suitcase, calling the grandparents twice a day to remind them that they want to do X,Y or Z once they’re there. The Bean has held back on her haircut for the last 2 months saying she will only get Aunty P in Allahabad to cut it. They’re going to go swimming with my parents, and will be off to Banaras this weekend and Madras the weekend after that for 10 days, sun, sand and egg dosas.

Friends who don’t have parents to leave the kids with, envy us. I on the other hand envy friends whose parents live with them and take care of the kids while they work. Anyhow, the point remains that next year I think we might not be able to leave them behind. Not because they won’t agree to stay. But because I don’t think I can do it anymore.

———————–

And here’s a sample of the idiocy we’re busy with when we’re home. A picture of the feet of three generations of women. They get progressively fairer (my mother is strangely dark for being the product of a pink and white Garhwali-Punjabi father and light skinned Bengali mother) starting with my mother’s dark but beautifully shaped foot, my medium toned but very plain foot and the Bean’s fairer foot – but she, poor child has unfortunately got the OA’s really ugly feet.

Girls just wanna have fun

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43 thoughts on “Welcome and goodbye

  1. Eh did you edit it the last bit of the post?! I read this post a while ago, and noted a line I loved, ran off for a meeting, and came back to comment and I swear its gone!

    There is something nice about the order even in the chaos that you sometimes describe as your home. Even with al the people visiting, the hustle bustle and the many faces your childrenmust meet, its lovely that theye is tradition and order and habit that you maintain. Have a wonderful trip! Bring back lots of pictures!

    I need to reply to your email, which I will do soon..

    • I did πŸ™‚ But I didn’t delete it, I changed the order of the post. I was typing as I was thinking and it was most incoherent. All izz well now.
      Shall take lots of pics and bore you all to death.

  2. Have fun on your trip MM and I agree there’s nothing like having people in your home who make you feel at home and you don’t have to run around “host”ing them. I have a dear friend of mine from college staying with me for a few weeks and he has my cook wrapped around his finger πŸ™‚ She”s been cooking better food than I could ever get her to make.

  3. I don’t mean to be rude but when describing your mother’s foot why is it “dark BUT beautifully-shaped”? It’s no bad thing to be dark is it. Surely that could be an “and” instead.

    • Sigh. No, I’m sure you don’t mean to be rude. And I could change it, but then it would seem like I’m worried about political correctness or guilty. Neither of which I am – she is my mother and I think she has the most beautiful feet in the world, sadly not passed on to me. Did you notice that all three feet are described with a BUT? It was just written.. not over-thought for political overtones.
      πŸ™‚

  4. I have been noticing for a while that the posts here have lost that zing/fizz…
    Age catching up & MM mellowing down.. eh? or is it that the little one has already started holding the reins?
    You guys go and have a wild time.. even joining a bikers gang for 2-3 days πŸ™‚
    Get back that Jhaansi ki rani attitude and some sarcasm please

    • oh 😦 Are you saying I’m boring now? :p
      I barely write a post and someone feels bad and thinks I called my mother’s foot dark like its a bad thing. I’m sure she didn’t mean to upset me, but its very difficult to write if people object to something on every post. 😦
      Or maybe I am growing old and mellow? πŸ˜‰
      Actually I think you have to be angst ridden to write angsty posts πŸ˜‰ I’m very *touchwood* comfortable, out of knee pain and satisfied with home and work right now. So no angsty posts from me i think.

      • Boring? why would I lurk here then? πŸ™‚
        People change.. not when they have kids.. but when they spend time with kids. And that is where the ‘mellow down’ part comes.
        Stil.. for old times sake.. a little tadka here or here is always good.
        Anyhow, cardinal rule is to not to give into reader’s requests ( on blog )

  5. And here you are back with that typical awww inducing post of yours. The way you describe your maama and maami’s visits, paints such a happy, peaceful picture. And I like both of your kadas, yours and your mom’s. But I can’t wear it with such easy like you guys have done πŸ™‚
    Have a happy trip and enjoy the break. Come back with loads of pictures.
    Hugs and kisses to the Brat and Bean.

  6. Dear MM,
    “framed against my backyard and the lilies in the pond” — WE want pictures !!!
    Chhota Nana and Nani is what relation? dad’s brother and wife??
    such lovely family MM – Its great to have such an young family around πŸ™‚
    kala tikka…
    payal picture is super cute… I love love the kada..bean has beautiful feet BTW πŸ™‚

    • πŸ˜‰ Chhota Nani and Nana are my mother’s brother and his wife. There’s an 8 year age gap between Ma and him. And they both married young and had kids early. So we’re lucky to have this sprightly batch of grandparents.
      Shall click pics of the backyard and pond – just have been so happy living life instead of documenting it for once.
      And fine *raises hands in surrender* Bean has nice feet. I give up πŸ˜‰

      • Hey don’t keep saying so happy living life.. don’t invite trolls now!!
        Jokes apart, your joy and happiness is so infectious… I was a little(no make it a whole lot!! ) down today and perked up reading this post.. GOD bless you dear πŸ™‚

  7. Lovely post MM – has such a cosy, homey feeling to it. And your house has a pond with lilies in it? It’s my childhood dream to have a pond like that.
    The picture is very sweet and such beautiful jewelry.
    Have fun on your trip!

  8. I loved reading this post because it had such a happy, cosy tone. Your happiness comes through. And in my work-ridden, panic-stricken, frustrated state right now, it made me very home sick. (I just yelled at my mum over the phone and then called her up to apologise and all she asked was if I was feeling unwell, which made me want to cry because it’s not like I’m an angel at all). Sigh!

    Have a great trip to the US. Lots of squeezes to Baby Button from me.

  9. Oh, sorry to disagree with you. I think the Bean’s feet are the cutest. πŸ˜€ How could you call them ugly!

    And isn’t she wearing the same anklet, one you’d put up in an earlier post?

    • pbffttt :p I know, everyone on FB says her feet are the cutest. All fond aunts πŸ™‚
      And yes, these are the same pair. They’re taken out for an airing each time we go home.

  10. Would love love a home tour pls.. maybe after you are back? Am sure the brat and bean are going to have a swell time at your parents’ place. Lovely kadas and totally love the bean’s anklets.. is this some kinda northie style? I haven’t seen anything similar down south and would love to get a pair for my daughter.
    Have a good trip and enjoy with baby button & gang! πŸ™‚

    • Bean’s anklets were once mine. Ma doesnt even remember where she got them. And they’re quite useless because you can’t wear them with any footwear.
      Don’t know about a home tour because the house while its really comfortable, isnt up to my standard of looking good this time 😦 Its very simple and homely. Nothing to put on display, if you get what I mean.

      • High standards, I am sure! At least the garden? And can you please do a few posts dedicated to that – tips & tricks for folks like me who can’t still figure out what colored thumbs we have?
        The anklets are beautiful.. there are plenty of occasions when the child can wear it at home without slippers.. am going to hunt for them during my next visit πŸ™‚

  11. Have fun on your trip MM!! We need a post on your vacation and pictures too. And not to forget a house tour of your new house with pictures of your backyard with the pond. The picture with the 3 feet is just beautiful.

  12. I love the way you write, Your posts have a way of bringing a smile to my face every time. Stories of the bean and brat make me want to have a second baby,and now I want a similar chota nana nan too πŸ™‚
    Have a great holiday!

  13. You have a pond and that pond has lilies in it !! I am down on my knees begging for a few pics please. I spent all my chindhood holidays at my grandparents and believe me The bean and the brat are going to have wonderful memories when they grow up .. Have fun on your holiday…

    • Well, it was a sandpit that I emptied out and reincarnated as a pond! Plan to put fish or a turtle in it. Its not at its best right now with the worst of the north Indian summer upon it.

  14. u have a pond!!! wow:) iam J :)..
    wish u super wonderfully happy holidays..and pls come back with loads of pics and loads of posts for us.. will miss u … and brattie beanie coming to namma ooru? awesome πŸ™‚ pls come along with them next time and I will come to meet u guys πŸ™‚
    -Suba

  15. Love the post and the kadas and Bean has pretty feet. All your feet look so dainty with the accessories. I’d love to see the lilies in the pond. Have a wonderful trip, will await pictures of the OA and you in profile or with your backs on display. πŸ™‚ Happy vacations, MM

  16. I only recently went away for 3 days without the kids and it was with girlfriends. I did come back refreshed and the kids WONT be scarred for life. YAY!! You set a wonderful casual fun yet absolutely loving example. I may come back to read this several times to garner enough pep to actually do this but k and are scared that if we ever do holiday without them, it will be wasted because all we will do is miss them and what their antics would have been had they been with us. It doesnt get easier does it? Kaisay hain hum?

    Hope you are having a lovely time in Amreeca.

  17. i just got back from vacation and now everyone I know is leaving for one! 😦 Makes me want to go again!

    Lovely post, and yes, your mom does have lovely feet! Although the Bean’s is not as ugly as you make it out to be πŸ˜›

    Have a wonderful holiday! πŸ™‚

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