There are two reasons I am not close with most of cousins (a) they live 10,000 miles away in India and (b) television shows like Dallas and Dynasty where kids disrespect their parents, drink and divorce have lead my conservative cousins to decide I am immoral like J.R. Ewing and Alexis Carrington.
Never mind that my parents’ generation was probably more conservative than their desi counterparts in India. I think our immigrant parents feared what America might teach us: disobedience and sex with white people. But I guess if my cousins (34 on my dad’s side and 11 on my mom’s side) want to be closed minded, it’s fine. I’m not begging them into accepting me.
Thursday night comes along and I’m watching Frasier re-runs and my phone rings. It’s my cousin (Post 39), who lives in Bangalore. She asks how dating is going and I gush about Reindeer for 15 minutes. She listens but doesn’t say anything, which is VERY unusual for her. Like me, she does not lack for opinions. She asks me to run through Reindeer’s biodata aka matrimonial curriculum vitae (Post 43). Then she asks who else I am seeing. Has she been listening to me? I have yet to “date” anyone, nor has a desi man excited me!
“What happened to that Banker?” she asks (Post 60, 59, 56). “He didn’t call me. And he seems to only date skinny girls.” She sighs and says, “I saw the pandit about why you’re not getting married.” Pandits are Indian priests. “And?” I ask, fearing what she will say.
“From your janampatri your stars are really strong.” Janampatris are birth charts. They are scientific and systematic using an individual’s birth time and date to calculate the position of the stars, planets and the sun, to recreate the day you were born. For those who believe, pandits can determine a person's life, now and in the future. Of course, fatalist Indians have faith in what they cannot see or explain, but feel. And they accept that God not humans control everything. After a long pause she says, “And your stars are repelling marriage.”
It is always delightful to learn I am my very own marriage repellent. “He says that alcohol negatively affects your stars.” Okay, that sucks. “Do you drink that much?” she asks. What planet is this woman living on? “Uhm, well…I can keep up with sailors during Fleet Week,” I reply drily. And yes, I realize this is not an attractive quality in a pint-sized woman. “Oh really?” she asks in that Indian whispery way of shocked surprise, the same way Americans whisper cancer and then resume normal dinner conversation. “You need to quit for a while,” she replies.
Well, if there was ever a reason to quit drinking, fixing my pesky matrimonial stars is it!