Wednesday, December 03, 2008

SFO: the delights of nieces abound

There is no excuse for tardiness, especially in the unpredictability of this here today gone tomorrow kind of life. So I’m pulling up my socks and making good on a new year’s resolution to post more often. Better late than never?

Our first two days in the Bay area were in my cousin 40in2006's lovely high ceilinged home. I had some serious jetlag issues and the first night just could not get to sleep before 2 am (11am in the UK, by which time I had been awake more than 24 hours). It helped that my cousin and I sat and chatted till we could keep our eyes open no more. The two days absolutely flew by in a flurry of activity. The highlights included:

We visited the Container Store – a magic kingdom of all things packaging OCD. I could easily live in this store. I managed to convince V to come as well and if he hadn’t I’d have trotted home with armfuls of unnecessary (but Oh So Pretty) junk. I limited myself to some paper thin silicon cutting boards and magnet measuring spoons. V came away with Cable ID (do not ask).

We enjoyed a summer day barbeque thanks to my cousin-in-law, who deftly marinated some steak and salmon and fed us thin, flavourful slices. We sat out under their green leafy gazebo and ate till we had no more space left in our bodies.

I went on the school run with my cousin, dropping & picking up – from school and art class, picking up from movie afternoon. Mundane tasks like grocery shopping, filling gas – all pleasurable because of the company and the novelty of being in a car on America’s big wide roads. I felt like a country bumpkin for behaving as if driving were the greatest invention since sliced bread. It's what the London tube system has conditioned me to.

Spent an evening looking at photographs and listening to stories of their European vacation, of trawling through pictures of other nephews and nieces, festivals celebrated through the years, till finally the jet lag caught up, my eyes gave way and I fell into bed

The cherry on the icing of this cake was without a doubt my nieces, whom I hadn’t seen in too long and whom I apparently love more than I knew. At 7 and 11 they could not be more different, both in stages of development and in personality. In both I see glimmers of hereditary genes, small nuances and habits that they have from their parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts. It is amazing how level headed and logical the elder one is, serious yet firm in her likes and dislikes. While the younger one flits merrily between myriad available choices, smart comebacks and the insecurities of being the younger sibling. To buy them birthday/ New Year gifts in lieu of the many years I have missed we decided to take them to the mall and let them go wild. I told them this 24 hours in advance so they had a chance to think about what they might want. The elder one immediately declared her disdain for shopping and settled on books. The younger one had a list as long as a monkey’s tail and she kept asking if she could change her mind or have everything. In the mall they each chose a webkinz (DO NOT ASK – google your curiosity) and then we went to the bookshop where the elder one picked two books after careful consideration. The younger one changed her mind about the webkinz about 5 times in the shop and then could not decide what clothes she wanted for it. As for the bookshop she soon had a small pile and could not decide which two to buy. One so decisive and the other so dramatic. Each so lovely.

They are so different and yet so similar that I’m not sure my description is doing them justice. They have these full busy lives with school, friends, activities, their sibling love-hate relationship – all balanced delicately as their parents try and inculcate the best of both world. It looks hard this parenting in a foreign land, the juxtaposition of American existence with an Indian life.


  1. That's a little girl's prerogative! The cable ID thing made me laugh... MEN!

  2. Anonymous9:43 AM

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  3. Anonymous7:35 AM

    Oh I love Container store. I browse in the store and for a minute or two, I have this vision of neatly organized,color co-ordinated for each child folder and then I wake up and realise its not me..

    My girls, 9 and 6 loves webkinz. My older one has all her classmates in her chat list and sends them presents and what not.