Tuesday, 29 December 2009

When family is friend

Recently my brother in law was with us for a couple of days. And he mentioned that he felt one must always be around "friends" at every life-stage. At that my husband remarked that in my case, I always stuck to my family. I then told them that for me, my family members are my friends. Not so in my husband's case - evidently.

Mine is a large family they say. We've been in Bangalore since the 1950s when my grandparents moved to this beautiful city. And we've always frequented one of the Malayali Syrian Christian churches [MSCC]. My grandmother's several siblings and cousins also frequented the same church in Bangalore with their families. With time, the 'C' family grew ['C' representing the family name from my grandmother's side]. I hear from my parents and other relatives that it was customary that after church service every Sunday, the entire "synyam" ["crowd" in Malayalam] went to one of the family homes for Sunday lunch. Organising family weddings combined with the barely-in-existence Bangalore public transport in the 1970s meant several days, if not weeks, of all the families staying together at the wedding home - planning, talking, cooking, eating and sleeping together.

I thus grew up in a household where family was always visiting. And this in the true Indian sense of the word "visit" which meant "impromptu/unannounced visits". My parents stayed with my grandparents and therefore there was always a visitor at home either from within Bangalore or many a time - cousins, uncles, aunts, somebody's somebody from outside of Bangalore, who knew no one else during their visit to this city and hence stayed with us. Staying in a hotel in those days - unheard of! Money was little, space even lesser, but (surprisingly) happiness abounded in the home.

My first-ever friend is my second cousin - she remains my best friend to this day. If it weren't for our tightly bonded families, she and I would have never been able to meet as much as we did as children, for after all we weren't sisters or even kids of siblings. We were grandkids of siblings. Yet the MSC Church that she and I attended and all those extended Sunday lunches and family visits helped grow such a strong tie of friendship between us that she ended up being the one to even introduce me to my future husband!

Just like our home had visitors, we in turn visited our relatives in Bangalore - some more often, some less frequently. As teenagers my brother and I resented being dragged to the lesser-known relatives' homes. So boring, we'd think (and say). But my parents would have none of that and didn't give us a choice. Today we are much better people for that. Those relatives are now our "friends". Their kids (our cousins) are grown up now and they help us personally and professionally. When my husband and I bought a home, we consulted my lawyer-cousin if the papers of the house were in order. In fact he helped us right through the process until the owner handed us the keys. Who better could we trust than our own family, in this matter?

Christmas in our family did not mean exchange of gifts. It did not even mean buying of new clothes or toys. But it did mean making lots of goodies for the family and a big-fat-family-lunch on Christmas day! The same at Easter. Just last Christmas we attended the customary family lunch at Mum's. Then dinner with more family - and we even partly missed a friends' get-together-dinner as we had to attend the family dinner. My colleague asked me, why not skip the family-dinner and go straight to the friends' get-together? I couldn't see the difference in being a part of either - after all, I would be amongst friends anyway.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

My favourite poem ever is George Herbert's "The Pulley". I cannot help but share it with you:

THE PULLEY.                     

WHEN God at first made man, 
Having a glasse of blessings standing by ; 
Let us (said he) poure on him all we can : 
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie, 
            Contract into a span. 

            So strength first made a way ; 
Then beautie flow’d, then wisdome, honour, pleasure : 
When almost all was out, God made a stay, 
Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure, 
            Rest in the bottome lay. 

            For if I should (said he) 
Bestow this jewell also on my creature, 
He would adore my gifts in stead of me, 
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature : 
            So both should losers be. 

            Yet let him keep the rest, 
But keep them with repining restlesnesse : 
Let him be rich and wearie, that at least, 
If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse 
            May tosse him to my breast. 

I completed Vikram Seth's "The Golden Gate" a few days ago.

I simply loved the book. Its a novel in verse. Many a word in the book I had to look up in the dictionary (thank goodness for the Dictionary application on my iPhone: referring was thus easy) - but oh it was so well worth the effort. I ate, slept and dreamt poetry while the book lasted. 

Unlike Vikram Seth, I cannot ever hope to write a verse, let alone a whole book of it. But thank goodness for him and for others like him. They provide me with the balm for my soul - poetry.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Talkling to Mum

The other day my husband noted that I spend a lot of time talking to my mother. 

It struck me that yes, we do. She and I live in the same city and reasonably near each other. We call each other on an average about 4 times a day.

You gasp at the idea? So let me explain what we talk about.

Mostly its about things related to my daughter who spends the day at Amma's home when not at school, "Send her clothes", "She's left her lunch box here", "Tell her she cannot eat ice!"..... Other popular topics - maids, what to cook for lunch/dinner, update on family events, which family member said what, when, where and why...

No doubt at times I wondered the need for Amma to call so often. I told myself she's growing older and therefore the need to talk more. Many times I would get irritated at the number of calls - especially when I had other things to keep my life busy. But the amazing thing was that through these conversations, I learnt many a life's lessons from her. Our discussions about what was happening in our lives or another's life - often the point of view she brought up would make me see the matter in a different light. I also rely on her judgement - on people, on money matters, on handling relationships and most of all on raising a child. 

I like to believe that I grow up a little more when Amma and I talk.

Here's to you Amma - happy Mother's Day. Thanks for everything and I hope one day my daughter and I can share something similar.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Seems easy enough

It's been a year since I last posted. Simply ashamed. But now all that has changed. I read others' blogs and they seem to post about matters large, small, profound, mundane. 

So I too shall try to be more regular here. It seems easy enough!