Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ahmedabad

During my trip to Ahmedabad which I wrote about in the last post, I initially stayed with a distant uncle of mine and for ease of reference we will call him KB .If my memory serves me right, KB's mother is my mother's father's sister. The plan was for me to stay with them for a day or two and then move into the fated hostel. They own a huge house in one of the better localities of Ahmedabad. As I entered the house I was met with a stunned silence and not a single person was to be found. I went inside and met KB's mother and father and after the customary feet touching and their remarking how much older I looked and arguing about whether I took after my mum or dad, I was allowed to go upstairs to my room. I took a refreshing shower and came down for dinner and half-way through my meal, I heard two cars pull into the driveway.

As the door opened and I looked up, I saw a mass of people(it was not really a mass but at that moment it seemed like one) enter. Here I was in a house with about sixteen people out of which I knew two people and yet everybody seemed to know who I was. There was a lot of discussion on my family, ancestrage, past incidents in my family which I had not witnessed and lots of "Do you know" kinda questions which I really did not know the answer to. When they found out that I hardly knew any of them, they made me sit with a marriage album of their son and then started my crash course in "Know Your Family". At the end of it, it seemed like this part of my family just never seemed to end and so I excused myself and with a swimming head I stumbled to bed.

I moved into the hostel the next day and used to come to KB Uncle's house on the weekends and could not help notice how different our families were inspite of being related. Here was an extreme patriarchical system where the men went to work, came back, expected hot food on their plates and then left the plates to be cleared by someone. On the same thread, were the women who spent close to 8-10 hours in the kitchen with the favorite topic of discussion being-"What do we cook for the next meal?" But they all seemed happy, the men, the women and the children. The entire family went to the temple every day(not together!!) and I was invited to go with them once. I have never felt comfortable in a temple and so I politely declined for which I was asked tauntingly if I had ever seen God. My first reaction was to say that if he/she resides in the temple then no,I haven't, but I maintained a studied silence.

It was on my third weekend that I started feeling comfortable with the people. I used to spend time in the kitchen with my aunts and sisters-in-law listening to the daily chatter however trivial and seeing them contented and happy. I used to play badminton with the kids and watch them fool around and yet be blissfully unaware of all this. It was an interesting experience where I realised that so many things that would be dissatisfying to me, gave them their greatest happiness. I had a good time and returned to Chennai a wee bit wiser and 5 kilograms heavier(they were mutually exclusive events)

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very correct. One look at our grandparents, uncles and their friends (most of the time in villages)lives, we see that their life isnt so complicated at all. Maybe thats why they are satisfied. Back in the city, we make our lives hard.

-manoj

6:22 AM  
Blogger ioiio said...

I have never been in a joint family environment before. Im sure I would go through the same ordeal if I ever happen to spend some time with them..

Hope fully I wont be 5kg heavier but a lot more wiser!!!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Ullu
Trust me if you got 5 kgs heavier nobody would notice :-)

Manoj
I don't know why but they were all happy doing what they were doing and I was not able to accept that which was quite strange!!

4:17 AM  
Anonymous ramantheb said...

nice !!

Well, there are people even in the city who lead very simple straightforward lives. It's the lifestyle that probably baffles us a bit .. but thats understandable. Someone in Bombay may come to chennai and think people in chennai lead such simple lives.. so its a just a question of which bracket you choose to be in( or rather, destiny decided to fit you into!!)

7:28 AM  
Blogger meera said...

hey first time here...read Col.Rai and now ahmedabad..i guess i know how it feels to be mobbed by relatives who seem to all know u when u are just reeling from that very fact...

8:11 PM  
Blogger Saraansh said...

Hey Meera
Good to see you here and this has happened to me more than one occassion and yet each time I am left helpless.

9:45 PM  

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