A guide to enduring a visit to your loving relatives
I get up on a Sunday June morning, totally awakened not by the “switch on the power of freshness” colgate or the tempting aroma of a special Sunday breakfast but by this announcement by my mom: ‘We’re going to meet (Insert some old man’s name here).’
‘Who’re they?’ I ask wearily.
An indignant look by mom. ‘They are your father’s …’ Here onwards my brain switches off and a glazed look spreads over my face which doesn’t leave until she drops another bomb: ‘So be ready by eleven.’
‘Eleven!’ I want to shout out ‘eleven! Are you kidding me lady! Is this a Sunday or what? I don’t even bathe by eleven!’ but all I manage under her threatening demeanor, asking me ‘Do you dare disagree’, is a weak nod.
So, It’s eleven and I drag my extremely unwilling feet towards the door when I’m drowned under a barrage of ‘What is this dress? How many times do I have to tell you to dress up in something other than black and comb your hair properly You should have washed them I’m taking you for a haircut next Sunday…’ (All this is said in one breath. Yes, notice the absence of punctuation marks.)
Finally, after my mother’s approval at the change in the attire and a hundred glances by my father at his watch, we set off.
My hair are fussed over one last time before the door to their home opens and a middle aged woman bowes us in with a permanently fixed smile and then hurriedly runs over to the kitchen calling to what sounded like half the house in her wake.
Enter an aged couple. As Indian customs (which were never very fathomable to me) demand, I bend down to touch their feet and they almost instantly fire the most dreaded question, ‘Do you remember us?’
Considering the last time you saw them when the most important question in life was who should be the seeker in the game of hide and seek, you obviously do not remember them. But since they are seventy plus, you can safely assume they are your distantly related grandparents. The real threats are those middle aged women because they can be anything from your bua to chachi to the housemaid. Hence it is advised to hold your tongue there. Of course when the worse comes to worse, you can just glance at your parents cluelessly and then be treated to an account of how you used to go to their home to play when you were about four and how the broken white and Black TV set still lying in the basement was your fault. If you are already twitching uncomfortably then wait till you hear them expound on how your nose used to be runny all the time…
Enter a veiled lady with a tray heavily laden with sweets and snacks and sweets and well… more sweets. If you are thinner than an average Indian, then this is the cue for you to brace yourself for those lame jokes like “if a sandstorm strikes, you’ll be blown away!”, because they will expect you to eat. Yes, even after embarrassing you as casually as discussing Smriti Irani’s new education reforms.
While we’ve landed on the subject of education, I might as well warn you this is the month of june and every single exam results from the UPSC to your ‘nukkad ke’ school ‘s primary annual exams, are out. They have mugged up the score and percentage and percentile and color of the student’s eyes with an efficiency that would put the photonic memory of ‘the Machine’- HP’s new supercomputing device to shame. So they grab this opportunity to hurl these mind-boggling figures at you while you cringe inwardly at your own 12th standard percentage which seems absolutely lame now.
After been made to feel painfully ignorant, I’m finally been asked a question whose answer , thankfully, I know.
‘What are you doing now?’
‘Engineering,’ I reply promptly.
‘Oh engineering!’ Instant seal of approval.
‘What all subjects do you study?’
‘Er, maths, chemistry, electronics, computer programming…’
‘Computers! You’ve been taught computers?’
‘Er…yeah, if that’s how you want to put it.’
‘Awesome! Can you have a look at our Bittu’s computer. It’s not working properly and doesn’t connect to the internet and what else? Here, Bittu, take her with you and explain everything. She’s going to fix your computer.’
And so I’m been dragged away to fix a hopeless computer while my cries of ‘They teach us computing technologies not how to repair a broken computer and anyways I’m an electronics and electrical engineering student…’, go unnoticed.
What magic did I perform at the computer, even I do not remember. But this sure alarmed my parents into deciding that it was time for us to take our leave and we finally find ourselves at their doorstep again, smiling politely and in my case, absolutely grinning at my freedom, and waving our goodbyes.
‘ Do visit again.’
‘Sure!’ I deigned to reply. They were after all, as promised in the beginning, ‘loving’.
P.S. Life Hack #2 If you can’t send an excel file because it is too big, save it as .xlsb. This will shrink the size.