Tag Archives: Abroad

A Fond Farewell

Over the past year, I have made several friends in the blogging community. One of the nicest and friendliest persons I have come across is Akanksha Dureja. Several weeks ago, she asked me to write a guest post for her blog – the charming Direct Dil Se. I had been mulling over the right topic to choose for her, which was a trifle difficult task given the eclectic choice of subjects that she chooses to write on.

And then, I heard the happy-sad news – Akanksha was moving to the UK for work for a year, most likely longer. The news made me, as I am sure all her other friends too, happy because it is always nice to see your friends flourish in their careers. But sad, too, because it is never easy to part with them. My guest post for her is my way to say Au Revoir, Akanksha – until we meet again.

I know what most of you are doing now – planning your next holiday in the UK, right? After all, no more worries of booking expensive hotel accommodation or paying through your nose for pricey meals! (Oh, did I mention that Akanksha is a great cook?)


Do read my post on Direct Dil Se. My first attempt at writing a modern day fairy tale. With the hope that the reality for Akanksha will be even more joyous and eventful than the one I have described!

Akanksha Dureja : The London Diaries


See you later, Alligator!

See you later, Alligator!

A Guest Post For A Super Blogger!

Strangely one morning, as she was probably nursing a particularly bad hangover, Purba Ray of A-Musing fame, figured that my writing was worthy of her blog. Her blog – which is among the funniest and most insightful ones out there! So when she asked me to do a guest post for her, I didn’t even stop to ask if she was feeling ok – I just said YES!

Here is the piece. Do read, comment, share – you know, the usual stuff that friends do!


The National Treasure

Beware : Angry Lady Ahead!

Beware : Angry Lady Ahead!

“This is a disaster!” yells Sonia Gandhi as she facepalms her forehead uncharacteristically. “How could we even let this happen?”

The emergency (yet hidden from the media’s prying eyes) political meeting is taking place at the lawns of Sheila Dixit’s official residence in Delhi. The bright winter sun is warm but doing little to dispel the frosty ambience of the congregation. The news that had been received by the PMO just that morning has pulled the rug from under the political establishment’s feet. “It can’t be true!”, “The media must not find out about this!” and “What will Maya and Mulayam do now?” are the universal exclamations in the corridors of power. (As is “How come Urvashi won Bigg Boss?” but that is off-topic for this post.) Mamata Banerji and Narendra Modi have already rushed to Delhi as they are prone to do under such circumstances. So have most other leaders. All except Jayalalitha, who decides to stay put in Chennai under the perceived threat of a snub.
As the perfectly attired waiters with starched pagdees discreetly serve cream of mushroom soup and assorted nibblers, the political class furiously debates ways to help abate the latest crisis – the imminent loss of a national treasure to an adversarial nation.


Continue reading at A-Musing


Melbourne Ki Jhalak Dikhlaja!

This is an entry for the Indiblogger “…it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW!” contest.


One evening, SRK, Kajol and KJo decide to meet for Koffee to discuss their planned new film. Here is the conversation that Bollywood Reporter managed to capture secretly.

Karan Johar (aka KJo) : Girl and Boy, it is time for us to try something revolutionary. After all, who knows, kal ho na ho? Enough of your Raj-Pooja nonsense, now. And even though your name is Khan indeed, I will give you a much more stylish name in this one. How about Sid? For Siddharth?

Kajol : Aye haye, new name-shame, haan? I like it! I don’t think Sid has been used in any film, has it?

ShahRukh Khan (aka SRK) : K-k-k-Kajol, what is wrong with you? Have you forgotten ‘Wake Up Sid’?

Kajol : Offo…I had forgotten! Chalo, let’s stick with Raj then. I think the name Rajinder is coming back in fashion. Raj can be the nickname.

SRK : Sounds deadly to me. And Rajinder Kumar is my favourite actor! Ok, but what about her?

KJo : Ab Raj ke saath toh Pooja is a package deal. We cannot play around with that otherwise Yash uncle gussa ho jayenge.

Kajol : Yes, please, please, but call me Poo, na? I am dying to have that name!

KJo : Ok, Raj and Poo. Settled.

SRK : And who are we playing in this film?

KJo : I am thinking this time I will have you play two super successful lawyer-artists who are facing off each other five years after you both passed out of the same university.

SRK : What is a “lawyer-artist”?

KJo : I mean you are brilliant lawyers by day but also incredibly successful entertainers in the evenings and weekends. Raj is a theatre director, who also acts – imagine someone like Dev Anand saab. And Poo is the best actress in the country. But your main profession in the film is still Law. You fight very important cases – usually of national importance – and the whole world is glued to what you are up to in court.

SRK : Wow…what a deadly combination!

Kajol : And which exotic location will we film this time?

KJo : You know, I am a bit undecided about that. We have already done Switzerland, London, New York, California. How about this time we try the other side of the globe? What do you feel about Japan?

SRK : Japan? So, we will play the most successful lawyer-artists of Japan? And when we fight important court cases in Japanese courts, the entire Japanese population will be glued to their TV sets watching our live coverage?

Kajol : I am assuming that we will make our courtroom arguments in Hindi and not Japanese, right? Mujhe toh bilkul Japanese nahi aati – except waka doki!

KJo : Of course, silly! Yeh Hindi movie hai.

Kajol : So, will we assume that all Japanese people know Hindi, just like the British and the Americans in Hindi films? I guess no harm in that…

SRK : No, no, I think thoda zyada ho jayega.

KJo : Hmmm…I see your point. I guess that also rules out Beijing and Shanghai then. And Seoul.

SRK : Dammit. I really wanted to remix Govinda’s old song for my next film – “Korea, chura na mera jiya, Korea chura na mera jiya…

Kajol : Husn hai suhana, ishq hai…

KJo : Guys! Focus!

SRK : Oh sorry, sorry!

Kajol : Jo-Kar, have you thought about Australia? We did Sydney for that dreadful – We are Family – so this time we could go to Melbourne!

Melbourne Cricket Ground

SRK : Yes, M-m-m-Melbourne! Sounds like a perfect choice to me! Will we get a chance to go see the world famous Melbourne Cricket Ground?

KJo : Sure!

Kajol : Quick, quick, tell us more of the story now!

KJo : So, we begin with Raj and Poo, biggest rivals in college. She is called Raj ki Poo, and he is called Poo ka Raj. That is how much they are identified with each other!

Kajol : How adorable! I can almost smell love-hate in the air.

SRK : Will we be filming at the Melbourne Law School in the University of Melbourne? I hear they have a marvellous campus!

University of Melbourne – Newman Residential College

KJo : It is marvelous indeed! In fact, I am also thinking of doing a college celebration-type song where you both, with 50 other white Australian kids, sing and dance at the world famous Melbourne State Library. You know, like a ‘We don’t want no education’ kind of song.

Kajol : Where everyone does Bollywood dancing, right? I think everyone in Australia learns Bollywood dancing at some point in their lives!

KJo : Of course.

SRK : But what exactly is the story?

KJo : You see, you both were the most popular students in your university. You were always competing against each other for the best grades, the most popular student award, the best sportsperson award etc. But even through all that rivalry, you secretly loved each other.

State Library of Victoria

Kajol : Wow…I already have goose-bumps! Tell me more!

KJo :  And then when college ended, you both went your separate ways, without getting a chance to express your love for each other.

Kajol : Awww….that is so sad!

SRK : But why didn’t we express our love?

KJo : Fate. Circumstance. Ego. Parents wishes. Higher education. Call it what you may.

Kajol : Such a pity!

SRK : Is there a sad song at this point?

KJo : Yes, obviously! I can show you walking around the beautiful streets of Melbourne as two sad, heartbroken almost-lovers. I think I will also show you both go and light a candle at the divine St. Paul’s Cathedral one by one, missing each other by minutes and inches.

St Pauls Cathedral

Kajol : Sigh. Our love. It was not to be!

KJo : But now here is the catch! You both do get to meet again!

Kajol : Oh goodie! Otherwise this would have turned out to be such a sad story!

KJo : Yes, five years later, when you both are 25 and super successful lawyers, you get a chance to fight a highly charged court case in the Supreme Court of Melbourne. It’s about an Australian-Indian couple who don’t want a divorce but they still must go through it.

Kajol : Awww….how sad!

SRK : But why are they getting divorced if they don’t want to?

KJo : Fate. Circumstance. Ego. Parents wishes. Children’s future. Call it what you may.

Kajol : Such a pity!

SRK : Is there a sad song at this point?

KJo : No, not this time. This time, you both decide to capture the agony of this estranged couple through your art. While you fight the case in court, you are simultaneously also working on a play that depicts their misery. And through their sadness, you aim to show yours!

SRK : But why?

KJo : Because you both realize, in an ocean of emotions that despite the five years of separation, and even though you are now 25 and no longer virgins, your love for each other is still strong. And yet, you are still shy to declare your feelings to each other.

Kajol : Awww….how sad!

SRK : So what do we do?

KJo : You both decide that you will fight the case but, for the sake of your love, you will sacrifice.

Melbourne Supreme Court

SRK : Sacrifice? How?

KJo : By losing the case and making the other person win! Remember, you are both successful lawyers who have never lost in the past. For love, you are even prepared to do that!

Kajol : Awww….how sad!

SRK : Stop saying that, silly! How can that be possible?

Kajol : Oh sorry, yes, I do see your point! Jo-Kar, don’t you think it is unlawful for either of us to knowingly lose the case of our client?

KJo : But all is fair in love and war!

Kajol : Awww….

SRK : Haan, woh toh hai…

Kajol : So, what happens then?

KJo : Simple, you both plot to bring your clients back together! By the way, your judge in court starts sensing that you both have a larger mission to bring your clients together. And he is secretly all for it! Do you know who I am signing up for that role?

SRK : Anupam Kher, obviously!

KJo : Obviously!

Kajol : Who is he playing?

KJo : The Chief Justice of Australia!

SRK : It’s great to see how successful people of Indian-origin are in Australia. Bravo!

KJo : Coming back to the estranged couple, your plan of getting the two of them to keep bumping into each other at all kinds of places and situations seems to work its magic slowly.

Kajol : How nice! I think this calls for a happy song!

KJo : And there sure is one. Yes, I was thinking we could film this number at the Shrine of Remembrance!

Shrine of Remembrance

SRK : And later, when they come see our play, our clients get convinced that their love is forever, and they decide to drop their case and get back together again!

Kajol : Yay! The End!

SRK : What ‘The End’ silly? Our own love story has still not been resolved!

Kajol : Oh haan!

KJo : And guess who brings the two of you together?

Kajol : Who? Our parents?

KJo : Have you not been paying attention at all? It’s the Judge!

Kajol : Oh wow!

KJo : Yes! Obviously he senses the undercurrent between the two of you, and he even comes to watch your play in disguise!

Kajol : What a great man!

KJo : Yes, as he throws out the case of your clients, he also issues a court order for you both to get together! But as soon as he does that, Poo flies off the court house!

SRK : Why?

KJo : Because I don’t want the last scene to be in a court house!

Kajol : So where do I fly off to?


Southern Cross Station

KJo : To a train station obviously. We will film at the Southern Cross Train Station. Where you are anxiously waiting in the train for Raj to come for you, and Raj is frantically looking into each train window searching for you!

Kajol : How romantic!

SRK : But why did Poo run away in the first place?

KJo : Fate. Circumstance. Ego. Parents wishes. Their past. Call it what you may.

Kajol : Such a pity!

SRK : So do they find each other?

KJo : Yes, thankfully! Someone calls the station and tells them there is a bomb on the train. The friendly and efficient Victoria Police stops the train and rescues all the passengers. And amidst all the drama, you both find each other and finally profess your undying love for each other!

The ever-smiling Victoria Police

Kajol : Awww….

SRK : …while all this is being telecast live on Australian TV, right?

KJo : Yes, and there is not a single dry eye in the entire country! In fact, all news channels are carrying a live stream in India, too, and every Indian feels the same emotions five thousand miles away!

Kajol : I think I am going to cry myself!

SRK : What can I say…this movie is a winner. Bravo!

Kajol :  And already, every time I think of Melbourne, mere dil mein kuch kuch ho raha hai!

SRK : And I can already imagine our fans flocking to their travel agents to make their Australia bookings. It’s almost like we are beseeching them – “it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW!”

The very popular Collins Street of Melbourne

Kajol : By the way, who was it who calls to say that there is a bomb on the train?

SRK : Yes, I am curious, too!

KJo : It’s the judge! Actually, there really is a bomb on the train! You see, the film ends with a teaser for Part II of this film…in which the judge is really a terrorist!

Kajol : Oh my God!

KJo : Isn’t that a great twist?

SRK : Better than great! Main kurbaan jaun aapke idea par!

Kajol : But listen Jo-Kar, why don’t you cast yourself in the film? You’ve been a director, a fashion designer, a compere, a host and a judge. Obviously, acting is the next logical move for you.

SRK : Yes, ab acting mein apna johar dikhao! Waise, what part do you think he should play?

Kajol : He could be the hero’s best friend. We could call him Sid!

SRK : Perfect. Raj-Pooja-Sid! Yeh dostana achcha chalega! I am already thrilled!

KJo : Yes, why not? Perhaps I can be the reason why Raj never got together with Poo all this while!


This blog post is all in jest, obviously, except that it really is your time to visit Melbourne now! For more details about what to find there, and how to get there, do visit :  www.visitmelbourne.com/in

The popular and tourist friendly Bourke Street of Melbourne

Dirty Harry!

As you know HRH Prince Harry was recently caught with his pants missing in a Vegas hotel. So, what do you think happened the moment Happy Harry first realized that the royal jewels were on display to the entire world? Worry about grandma and the future of the British monarchy? Not quite. The first thing he did was make a call to the hotel’s ever reliable lost-and-found department. And as is true with all customer service calls made in the US, that phone call that originated from the Presidential Suite of The Encore was routed to a hapless Vijay Kumar in Gurgaon, India.

Here is what ensued thereafter.

Embarrassed Much?
(Photo courtesy Google and The Independent)

Call Centre : Encore Hotels and Resorts Lost and Found Department. This is Vijay speaking. How can I help you?

Prince Harry : I am calling to report some missing items from my hotel room! Presidential Suite!

Call Centre : I will be glad to help you, Sir. Please can you give me some personal details first?

Prince Harry : Ok, what do you want to know?

Call Centre : Your name?

Prince Harry : Henry Charles Albert David.

Call Centre : Huh? Just your name, Sir, I don’t need the names of your friends and family members.

Prince Harry : Oh blimey! That is just my name. Ok, why don’t you just put down Henry Charles as the name?

Call Centre : Ok, Mr. Charles. Father’s name?

Prince Harry : It’s Henry.

Call Centre : Your father’s name is also Henry?

Prince Harry : I mean my name is Henry. Don’t call me Mr. Charles!

Call Centre : But your name is Mr. Henry Charles, no?

Prince Harry : Yes. But I am not known as Mr. Charles. I am known as Prince…Oh, never mind. Call me whatever!

Call Centre : I could call you Mr. Prince Charles, if you prefer?

Prince Harry : For fuck’s sake! Call me Henry. Just call me Henry!

Call Centre : Ok, Mr. Henry. Father’s name?

Prince Harry : Why do you need that?

Call Centre : Just a matter of policy, Sir.

Prince Harry : Charles Philip Arthur George.

Call Centre : Sir…

Prince Harry : Oh crap…I mean, Charles Philip.

Call Centre : Wife’s name?

Prince Harry : Oh, bloody hell, why do you need that for?

Call Centre : Sorry, Mr. Henry. You don’t need to give that information if it’s of a sensitive nature. I understand that you are calling from Las Vegas and spousal information can be sensitive.

Prince Harry : There is no bloody wife, ok?

Call Centre : I’m sorry, Mr. Henry, for having brought up a sensitive topic for you.

Prince Harry : Fu…! Ok, sure. Can I just lodge my complaint? Please?

Call Centre : Yes, Mr. Henry. What can I help you with today?

Prince Harry : I am missing my pants and my trousers!

Call Centre : I see, Sir. But what exactly do you mean by “my pants and my trousers”?

Prince Harry : I mean just that – I am missing my pants and my trousers! What is so difficult to understand?

Call Centre : Do you mean you are missing 2 pants?

Prince Harry : No, my dear man, I mean pants and trousers!

Call Centre : But, Sir, don’t they mean the same thing? It’s like saying – I am missing a cellphone and a mobile phone. But that would really mean – I am missing 2 cellphones, wouldn’t it?

Prince Harry : Cor! Pants, as in underpants, and trousers as in…pants, I guess!

Call Centre : Oh I see now, Mr. Henry. You mean you are missing your underwear and your pants. I am happy to help you with that. But first, I will need some details on the missing items.

Prince Harry : Sure, what do you want to know?

Call Centre : Please can you describe your underwear in 100 characters?

Prince Harry : 100 characters? Why 100 characters?

Call Centre : That is because we release this information to all our hotel employees as a tweet and a Facebook post so that it is easier for them to keep an eye out for the missing items. We have observed that no one reads notice boards any more. But they do check Twitter and Facebook.

Prince Harry : Ok, I see. Very efficient. But why 100? If it’s a tweet, shouldn’t it be 140?

Call Centre : It could, if you didn’t want any contact information attached to that tweet. How will the finder know what to do with the information?

Prince Harry : Yes, yes, quite.

Call Centre : Thank you for understanding, Mr. Henry. Ready when you are.

Prince Harry : Oh, ok. Let’s see. How about – Missing pink coloured boxer shorts with picture of Mickey Mouse on the crotch and Donald Duck on the butt. Size Large. Inscribed with the letters HRH Prince Henry in gold.

Call Centre : Very long, Mr. Henry.

Prince Harry : No, I don’t think they are very long. Normal length. They come up to about my lower thigh.

Call Centre : I meant the tweet, Mr. Henry. It is too long.

Prince Harry : Crikey! Ok, how about – Missing pink coloured boxer shorts with pictures of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Size Large. Inscribed with the letters HRH Prince Henry in gold.

Call Centre : No.

Prince Harry : Missing large pink boxer shorts with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Inscribed with HRH Prince Henry. Happy?

Call Centre : That’s a perfect fit, Mr. Henry. And the pants?

Prince Harry : How about – Missing Brown Pants.

Call Centre : That’s it?

Prince Harry : Yes. What do you want me to say – that it has buttons and a zipper?

Call Centre : As you wish, Mr. Henry. And, where was the last place you saw these missing items?

Prince Harry : On me. I saw them on me.

Call Centre : And what were you doing when you suddenly realized they were missing?

Prince Harry : That is none of your business!

Call Centre : Oh I see. Sensitive topic, Mr. Henry.

Prince Harry : Stop saying that! Just…!

Call Centre : I am sorry, Mr. Henry. And would you say that you misplaced these items through your own carelessness or were they stolen?

Prince Harry : Err…not sure…one could say that it was my own carelessness…

Call Centre : I will need a precise answer, Mr. Henry. It will help us locate the missing items faster.

Prince Harry : All right, all right! I was smashed, ok? Hammered! Plastered! Wasted!

Call Centre : Oh! I am very sorry to hear that, Mr. Henry! Were you violently attacked in your room? Can you describe your attackers? Could they be the ones who removed your underwear?

Prince Harry : Motherf….! No, I meant I was drunk! Drunk!! I don’t know when my clothes were gone and where they went! Just help me get them back. That’s all. Really, I can’t do this any more!

Call Centre : I am sorry, Mr. Henry. I am only trying to help you. Do you have any pictures of the missing items?

Prince Harry : <mumbles>

Call Centre : Mr. Henry, are you still there?

Prince Harry : No, I have no pictures of my underwear and pants. God!

Call Centre : One last question, Mr. Henry. Who can we contact alternatively if we locate the missing items? I see that you haven’t provided your wife’s contact details.


Call Centre : Then? Your parents? You know what – people sometimes give their grandparents details. It is our observation that grandparents are usually very non-judgmental about their grandchildren’s activities in Vegas. Very forgiving. I think that may be best.

Prince Harry : NO, NO GRANDPARENTS! You fucking hear me?

Call Centre : Yes, Mr. Henry. I am only trying to help you. Sorry for raising a sensit…

Prince Harry : DON’T SAY IT…Just. Don’t. Say. It. Again.

Call Centre : I am sorry, Mr. Henry.

Prince Harry : Is there anything else you need from me?

Call Centre : Yes, Mr. Henry. Just your forwarding address. Oh, wait, looks like I can pull that up from the computer. It says, Windsor Castle, London, UK. Is that correct?

Prince Harry : Yes.

Call Centre : Oh great. If I may say so, Sir, I have always wanted to visit London. But they say that it is very rainy there. Do you think there will be a storm when you get home?

Prince Harry : Hah…will there be a shit of a storm when I get home…

Call Centre : I am very sorry to hear that, Mr. Henry. Well, do carry an umbrella! Ok, that’s it, Mr. Henry, I have everything that I need. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Prince Harry : NO!

Call Centre : Thanks for calling Encore Hotels and Resorts Lost and Found Department. You were speaking with Vijay. May you have a very pleasant stay in Vegas.

Prince Harry : <mumbles> Thank you. <mumbles>



Of Waifs And Sins In America

Here is Achala Srivatsa’s follow up essay on the Modern Indian Expat. She now takes you to meet our brethren in the Land Of The Free. Read on!

A disclaimer. This piece will shamelessly stereotype Indians in the US. So if you plan to read on – please set aside your moral outrage.

I will talk specifically of those who live on the East and West Coasts. The Bay Area in California – the IT mother ship and the home of the twice-born Brahmin   and the East Coast – the home of erstwhile IIT (computer) engineers who have shape-shifted into Wall Street Suits.


The Basics

Let’s start with New Jersey. First off, you should know that the moment you say New Jersey, you show yourself up to be the laughably ignorant person you are and your Indian American neighbor will roast you alive on his newly acquired barbeque. The correct name, to be said with an air of casual nonchalance, is of course – Jerrsey. The fact that the state motto mirrors that of Bangalore (which of course is the Garden City) is no coincidence since half of Bangalore- quite literally- lives there. It’s practically a suburb of Bengaluru – give or take a few thousand miles.  In the old days, grandma used to drive across town to Jaynagar to meet the daughter , cook for the grandchildren and play with them. She now hops across to Edison – to cook for the grandchildren. Do you want to know the precise exchange rate of the US dollar? Ask Savitri Aunty across the road.

If it is Fine Dining it must be Creamy Yogurt Risotto with Chipotle

Now San Francisco. Know that you date yourself very quickly by referring to it as ‘Frisco. Only Indians bred on a steady diet of cheap American novels of the ‘70s would make this (heinous) mistake. From now on, you will say San Francisco or, if you must, San Fran.


The Well-settled American Indian Family (or WAIF)

The WAIF have lived in Jersey for over 20 years and the grocery store in Edison holds no mysteries for them. Their mantra has been “Huddle for Survival” and they are your go-to team for help on settling in. Ask them where you can get the best paan, the best jalebis and the best kachories. They know every Indian family within a 5 mile radius, the elderly Gujarati lady who will make phulkas and dal and also cook a full party dinner at a pinch (her dhoklas are to die for), and the Indian travel agent who can get you cheap tickets to India.  They are prepared for all emergencies. On flights back home to the US from India, they will pinch the little pre-packed dahi served with the meal (as a starter to set my dahi at home).

Road trip? No problem! The Vegetarian WAIF  is prepared. Junior might want the odd burger and fries but will eventually want to slurp up his curd rice.  So gigantic containers of rice and the ingredients for a quick basic meal along with a handy Prestige cooker are thrown into the boot of the SUV.  Thank you TTK.


Junior’s Education

The adolescent Indian child of a WAIF in America is doomed. In most cases, the parents have determined that nothing less than Ivy League will do for Junior. (I was once asked by a bunch of Ambitious Mothers (AM) what “school” I had graduated from. My answer- “Bangalore University” had them wiping tears of laughter as they sincerely thanked me for making their day.) The AM sits up with the child supplying strong coffee and milk drinks through the night. Nothing shall distract the child from his/her holy mission – Columbia or Yale. Sports are out ( what for? He doesn’t intend to go pro…), girls are verboten and forget about sleepovers.

Once Mission Columbia has been achieved – the task of the proud parents does not end. Weekends are spent carting huge boxes of puliyogare and curd rice for the son and heir who is confined to the dorm for the duration of the parents’ visit.

Years later ( perhaps 2?), when he makes VP at Goldman Sachs, he will thank his parents through gritted teeth for their support and love (with meds, touch wood, the nervous tic and the nightmares will soon be a thing of the past)


The Single Indian in New York (SIN)

As we all know, New York these days is teeming with young Indian professionals. This is a hybrid creature that has some unique traits. If he/she has recently moved from India, an immediate makeover is indicated. The motto is – Blend Or Die.

Men realize that the thing to do is to lose the luxuriant moustache. American women seem strangely repelled by it and anyway, everyone in the office is clean-shaven. Women quickly master the New York scarf knot, invest in boots and of course acquire the “I am a New Yorker” attitude.  This is readily recognizable by:

a) a deep and abiding contempt for all things Jersey b) a quickly acquired knowledge of the best pizza, the best burger and the best mojito in town c) a blasé, jaded “impress me”  attitude. The only thing that gives me hope and joy is to see how quickly this evaporates when they enter the sambar – redolent premises of Saravana Bhavan on 26th and Lexington Avenue.


WAIF’S parents arrive for the annual visit

The grandparents land in Newark airport quite dazed by the long haul flight and are whisked away to the son’s (or daughter’s) home in the suburbs.  The joy of reunion is, needless to say, tremendous. After the obligatory day or so of rest , the grandparents are exposed to the Mall. In the days to come, the grandparents come to understand the meaning of Living in America, aka Living in the SUV. The daughter/daughter-in-law spends 90% of her time in the SUV – driving to and from work or driving the husband to and from the railway station, picking up and dropping the kids off to school, to ballet class, to karate, soccer practice and of course let’s not forget Bhagavad Gita classes with the option of Bharatnatyam. Kim Kardashian aside, we must not forget our glorious culture.

The grandparents watch this whirl of activity in a slack-jawed fashion, with the sick realization that this will continue for the length of their stay. Their fond hopes of spending time with the children have been downgraded to hanging around while the children get through their long week.  They have a window of 15 minutes each day – after dinner and before the family watches TV (a 52 inch 3-D Home theatre system – “Latest, Amma and the biggest”) when they can timorously broach the topic of ummm… returning to India. What??? You don’t enjoy living in this huge house? With the big TV? We even have a couple of Indian channels! No no please don’t go… Occasionally, they are carted off to dinner where they meet other grandparents – recognizable by their glassy eyes and brave efforts to sound like they are… really… having a great time. Of course, before leaving, they will make sure to cook up 200 chapattis and a story of how much they enjoyed their six months in the Garden State.

Meanwhile, on the west coast… but that’s another story.