Wednesday, December 1, 2010


"Ainsley, I need a favor," I say quickly into the phone. "Sure, of course what?" she asks. I can hear her fingers running over the keyboard as she works on invoices. "I need two train cases, one in a funky print for my niece and one in black patent for my cousin." Ainsley works in fashion and her company makes bags, totes and accessories in soft, durable fabrics. "Niece? I thought she wasn't even one yet," Ainsley asks. "Well yes, my brother's daughter will be one next month. But my cousin's kids are like my niece and nephew." "Got it. How old is your niece?" "15," I reply. "Let me see what we have for you," Ainsley says. "Thanks," I say and hang-up.

I grab my purse and head down to the UWS for my nail appointment. When I am done grooming, I dart over to the Sephora on Broadway. Sometimes I find the gift getting really exhausting, not due to the actual running around, but because I want to buy things that are meaningful and in my budget. Which is why I often default to perfumes and colognes. They don't weigh much. They don't take up much space in my bag and who doesn't like smelling nice?

In the women's section I pick up two lipsticks for my younger massi (massi is the Hindi word for maternal aunt) and then find a nice, sophisticated perfume for my elder massi. Mom is the middle sister. This is another thing I really like about Hindi, the language differentiates paternal from maternal relatives. My paternal aunts are called "bhua" ... which is what my brother's daughter calls me.

I then wander into the men's section and select two bottles of cologne. One for my mama, maternal uncle, he is the youngest of the four siblings on Mom's side. The other cologne is for my Bangalore cousin's husband. He loves colognes and I always bring him one. My mama is actually found of really nice pens, but that is completely out of my budget.

I stuff the Sephora bag into my purse and step outside. The weather is so nice that I decide to walk the 30 blocks into Times Square. My Bangalore cousin has an 18 year old son who I am very fond of. He's in college now, which I cannot believe. He was the most adorable baby. As he got older I began to see so many similarities in our personalities. He's a little hot-headed, and rebellious, and stubborn. I tried on several occasions to share my experiences to better him. I remember during my last trip to India, he was fighting with his parents and I turned to him and said, "Why are you doing this? You won't win against them. You should learn to control your temper and be a diplomat like your sister. Don't do the things I did." I like to believe he heard what I was saying.

Because I adore him so much, I am willing to brave and battle the tourists in Times Square and go the MTV store to buy him a cool surfer type tee-shirt that he would be willing to wear in public. Even though I am the elder, I really want him to think of me as his cool American Massi. I wonder if kids realize how much they are loved, even by the aboard residing aunts.

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