Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dial M for.... You Guessed It

If you're single and coming to India during peak wedding season, you are guaranteed to get asked the M question. It never ceases to amaze me how everyone thinks, that in spite of all your hard work and achievements, you're a total loser because you're single! Beta, when will you get married? Beta, why aren't you married? And finally, beta marriage is not such a bad thing. All well-meaning aunties - some hobbling in their walkers - because as we know, noone enjoys a wedding more than an aunty who can't walk very well. During this "M" attack I was supported by some other single cousins on the scene but when they weren't there I had to come up with some creative answers on the fly. Here are some samples:
1. Aunty, i have too many boyfriends. I can't choose. One is too cute, one is too rich and one... well he is just too dumb. Think of my future gene pool!!
2. Aunty, i have a rare disease. It's called marriage-question-phobia. I can't answer you until i'm cured.
3. Aunty, you never taught me how to flirt as well as you do! now, now. give me some pointers.
And this gem, after I actually needed to get 7 shots of anti-rabies vaccines after my own pet dog bit me:
5. Aunty, noone will marry me. I am full of anti-rabies shots.
Of course these answers work well with only some folks. Others, i'm unfortunately left to give them the rote response: Yes! Soon!! Definitely this year, Aunty! Get your favorite sari out :)

Home is Where the What Is

I recently went to Delhi after a gap of 2 years and found myself regarding the concept of home in a more definitive way. After all, this was my parents' home where they chose to retire so it was not the same place I grew up in. I had my own room and loo, and the luxury of being served bed tea every morning. But when more out-of-towners arrived to crash for a day or two, I was shoved into a smaller room to accommodate them. Indeed, I was just another visitor for my parents. A special one, albeit visitor. Was I really turning into the same NRI uncle who used to visit me after a nearly a decade of living abroad? Shudder.

I studiously avoided the NRI label because of the basis I went abroad in the first place: to get experience and take it back to India or wherever else a door might open for me. I have resisted the green card queue (rather stupidly as some of my friends would say) and attainment of U.S. citizenship nirvana. This is not because of some latent jingoistic fervor to serve my country. I am a capitalist at heart and I know where I can get more bang for my buck. Not necessarily in the U.S. But I live here out of choice because this is where I have made my home in the past 9 years.

So coming to India has finally become an exercise in pure, shameless nostalgia. There’s no doubt I will make a new home there someday but until then it unequivocally falls under the category of the place I grew up in. Am I turning into a character from one of Jhumpa Lahiri's stories? Shudder.