A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for January 9th, 2013

Finding family

Posted by Pepper on January 9, 2013

I spent a lot of my childhood around my cousins. My mom has 5 sisters. She is the youngest. Obviously, the sister and I were the youngest grand kids. All our cousins were older kids who seemed to enjoy more privileges given their age. What made it so awesome was that they loved spending time around us. I have memories of them chasing us around parks, taking us to the beach, playing card games with us and even taking us for local train rides. Today, most of my cousins have kids of their own, but when we meet, we’re a riot.

I think I missed out on connecting with my cousins from my dad’s side of the family. My dad has 2 brothers. 1 of them has no kids. 1 of them lives in the US. He visited India with his kids only once a year. Those summer months with my cousins were fun, no doubt. But it wasn’t the same as it was with cousins from my mom’s side of the family. I wished we were a bigger group. That always added to the fun.

Anyway, a few days ago, I had the pleasure of getting to know a set of very interesting people, who are actually my second cousins from my dad’s side. Here is the story. My paternal grandmom’s brother moved to England to study. That was where he met a British girl, fell in love and got married to her. Er, yes. We’re talking about my grandmom’s brother. We’re an ‘uncultured’ family. Anyway, let me not digress. They went on to have a bunch of kids. Unfortunately, my grandmum’s brother died at a very early age, when his kids were very young.

The British woman he had married chose to stay in touch with her husband’s family back in India. She wrote letters to my grandparents. Sent pictures of her kids. Her kids are my dad’s first cousins. My dad too stayed in touch with them via snail mail. They did come down to India once when I was around 12. I remember being excited about seeing my foreign aunts, who had gone on to marry British men. The aunts, despite having an Indian father, didn’t look even remotely Indian.

A few days ago, my dad told me one of his Brit cousin’s kids was getting married to an Indian. The two had met in their office in London. The guy was from Mumbai, and so the engagement would be held in this city. He told us meet him at the venue. He would be coming directly from office. My mom, unfortunately was unable to make it that day.

The sister and I were reluctant to go. We spent about two hours deliberating. Should we go? After all, these were the Brit second cousins we had never met before. We had never seen their faces, nor had they seen ours. What was the point in attending this event? They wouldn’t care either way. Beside that, nobody else from my dad’s family was able to make it that day. So we would be knowing nobody there. With those thoughts occupying our minds, we decided to skip it.

When my dad called us to ask us where we had reached, we told him we were still home, and had in fact, decided to not come. He was terribly upset. He said we don’t take enough initiative to socialize within the family. And then the sister said, ‘Know what? Let’s just go’. I was a little taken aback by this sudden turn of events. It was quite late, but we decided to rush ourselves and leave.

When we reached the venue, we spotted my dad sitting with a group of people we had no clue about. That irked the sister. Shouldn’t he come and get us and make it less awkward for us? We’re anti social in an unknown crowd. Why make it harder for us? We scanned for a familiar face, but could see none.

Finally, I walked up to my dad’s table. He introduced us to a few people. We smiled politely and then moved on to get our dinner plates, considering it was already late. The whole hall seem to be full of foreigners. The sister and I felt terribly awkward, and decided to sit by ourselves at a separate table.

Just as we got through with our meal, the bride came up to our table and introduced herself saying ‘Hey, I am L, your cousin. You must be Pepper’. To say we were surprised would be an understatement. In no time, her brother joined us. And then their dad. Now you don’t go about expecting the bride and groom and their immediate families to take this kind of effort with people they don’t know.

The bride looked gorgeous. She was wearing a beautiful silk sari and seemed most elegant. We joked about the trials of walking in a sari Her brother spoke about his trip, his very first experience of India. He had a fantastic sense of humour, and the sister and I found ourselves laughing out aloud without restrain. Their dad told us about his life in England. We discussed work, families, philosophy, culture, countries, languages, food, history, it went on.

As we sat in the midst of our British cousins, we wondered if this really was the first time we were meeting them. We exchanged email IDs, swore to stay in touch and even visit each other often. By the time we left, we  knew we had found found friends and developed bonds that would withstand the distance. The sister rightfully said, meeting them has one of the best things to happen to us this year. Now I won’t complain about not having enough cousins to connect with from my dad’s side.

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