Friday, June 15, 2007

Long time no see

Here is why.

After 5 years of living in London my parents and brother finally made the trip over from Delhi to see us. My mum had been before, one fleeting summer 3 years ago. My brother had come to see us our first summer here and then again every few weekends while on a 6 month work stint. But despite traipsing all over the world and having come to England numerous times since he was about 10, my dad had somehow not been to visit since we got here. And of course it was the first time they had all come here together.

A very simple-complex plan was hatched to help celebrate his 60th birthday this May. The first bit was a quick trip to Madras to be with my grandfather, aunts, uncle to celebrate his star birthday. Efficient aunt organised an intimate gathering of family and a sumptuous sadya to mark his shashtpoorthi with some help from the Nik. Then all three of them boarded the plane to be here for his date birthday.

And for a week and a half we celebrated every day. Just being a family and having this time and place in our lives to be together and be happy. Here are thee best bits:

1. Why my mum is the best
Just before mum came to visit there was fierce arguments in office about how she could take so much leave (she was planning to stay for two and a half weeks). She gave in and agreed to come here for just a week and a half. When she told me this on the phone there was stark silence. It was a sob threatening to escape – so far, after so long and for so little time. And then these words “Don’t worry Darling, mama is coming”, that shook my tears away and made me smile. The moment in which I knew that it was not quantity but supreme quality that 1.5 weeks with her would contain.

I always get a huge suitcase full of stuff my mum thinks I need but don’t know I need and she is usually right - I do need it even though I have no space for it! For months before she has been squirreling away stuff to bring me. Bits and bobs, all infused with a style and pizzazz that I did not inherit. And like every visit, whether I go there or she comes here, it’s like all my Christmases come at once. Ever since I got married my body reacts to seeing my mum by falling ill – not life-threateningly, just mildly, with a cold or a fever. It knows that I need her hand to soothe my brow and her hugs to feel better. And connected. This time was no different. No sooner were all my goodies unpacked and put in their place that I developed a cold. This is how I know for sure that I love my mum. Her cool hand on my forehead is how I know she loves me back.

2. Why the Nik is so cool
When we were kids I was usually the Niks side-kick, and on rare occasions his co-conspirator. With that twinkle in his eye His Naughtiness came and kicked my seven year old straight laced ass straight into the dust. We argued a lot, but it was mostly just a precursor to me ignoring his surely-the-Devil-will-come-get-me plan and then loving him when he came out the other side of it. Like when he decided on speed dervish whirling till a forehead was split open by a stabilizer corner. Like when he thought standing on a tricycle AND going down the stairs simultaneously was a good idea. Like sticking his fingers into live electric sockets “just to see”. Like cutting up his T-shirt (whilst still wearing it) to check out the prowess of a new Swiss army knife. Like swallowing marbles and coins, more than once. How the times have changed. Each time I see him now I marvel that he is a grown up and utterly responsible adult and not just my silly baby brother who embarresed the hell out of me when I was a teenager. I marvel at what he has grown into: a great son, adoring brother, loyal friend to millions (I exaggerate but that’s what his 60 odd ‘short-list’ of friends felt like at MY wedding), loving boyfriend, and above all a responsible, gentle and kind human being. He also loads up my i-pod with ‘young’ music and listens patiently to me over-think everything and anyone that can do ALL that without batting an eye-lid is cool in my book.

3. Why I adore my dad
To make up for mum going back early dad decides to stay on for an extra week. After mum and Nik leave dad and I decide to go watch a Sunday matinee show in Leicester Square. Full of lunch this will be the best way to be entertained and snooze on a hot London afternoon. We are standing in the lobby of VUE cinema having been reliably informed that the concessions stand now sells tickets alongside its traditional fare of popcorn and Coke. Talk about multi-tasking (for concessionaires) and cost-cutting redundancy (ticket booth dudes). Young Pimple-y Boy (henceforth called Pimple) of indeterminate teenage years is our server.

Me: Can we have two tickets for X at Y please?

Pimple (looking up briefly): So is that one adult and one senior citizen? It’s half price on Senior citizens today.

Dad (recovering quickly from shell-shocked look and bellowing): I AM NOT A SENIOR CITIZEN! I’M ONLY 60! SENIOR CITIZEN BEGINS AT 65 IN INDIA.

Pimple looks stunned beyond belief. Here he is offering this white haired & bearded man 50% (I mean FIFTY PERCENT!!!!!) off a £12 ticket and he is refusing it on the grounds that he WON’T be called a senior citizen. And that in someplace called India senior citizenships starts at 65. He doesn’t know what to do and breaks into a nervous laughter aggravating dad a bit more. Dad's beard is smokin’.

Bright red Pimple: Are you sure (looking at me brandishing my credit card)? I think here it’s 60, sir.

Suddenly-young-Dad: YES, WE ARE SURE. PAY THE MAN. And then let’s get some popcorn.

And so we pay £24 to watch a Hollywood Blockbuster. I wonder if this is how Hollywood makes a chunk of its money – off dignified elders unable to accept their age. My dad is too cute.


  1. Anonymous9:44 PM

    was wondering what happened to you...glad you had a great time with them...your dad too cure!!!kids landed yesterday in Madras...40in2006

  2. had me laughing out loud - I love the story about your dad!

  3. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Too funny! I know a few people who lie about their age to get discounts! Your dad is cute indeed!

  4. Anonymous1:40 AM

    Yours dad's reaction is so cute!!! He would probably have taken the next flight home if you had looked like you were going to take Pimple up on his offer.

  5. Anonymous4:28 AM

    Lovely post. Had me laughing and crying at the same time..glad to see you back:)

  6. Lol! Your Dad's reaction is typical of almost senior citizens :-)

  7. Awwww... its so wonderful when parents visit. Made me smile :)

  8. lol....that is so cute!!!
    Awww...makes me smile :)

  9. ha ha :) good stuff

  10. I have a cold too but no mom to provide TLC. Even worse, Ayaan is down with the flu so I have to be the mom. I so wanna be the kid right now...

  11. haha! Such a sweet post! :D
    Annnnd my folks are getting here in two weeks too!

  12. Anonymous11:03 PM

    Hmm. A stuck his finger into live sockets too when he was a kid. Wonder if it's a boy thing.

  13. That is truly an awwww post. And your dad rocks. Glad you're back.

  14. 40in2006: yes, nice time had by all.

    Beks/ Broom/ Southways: Yes, me dad is too cute!

    Surya: Glad to be back!

    Parth: is it really now? This is my first such experience. Although my mum continuosly claims she is still 18!

    Pea/ Me/ SS: Glad to see people smile!

    Rohini: I almost never fall ill unless my mum is in the vicinity. Hope you are both feeling better by now...

    Shub: You lucky thing - always either you are visiting them or they you!

    MG: Very much a boy thing.

    Iz: yes, my dad totally rocks! Glad to be back in the world of the blogs.