Wednesday, January 12, 2011


“Desi Girl, my son wishes to speak to you,” Bangalore Cousin says and hands me the phone. “Hey Bangalore Nephew! How are you?” I ask. “Massi can you please go to the other room? I'm watching TV,” Bangalore Niece asks. Even though Bangalore Cousin and I are not real sisters, we’re the next closest thing, and her kids call me “Massi". And in all the time I have been coming here, they have NEVER spoken my given name. They only refer to me as Massi.

I give Bangalore Niece a wink and leave the room. I totally know how annoying it is when “old people” sit on the phone yapping at the top of their lungs while you are watching really important programming like Oprah or Melrose Place. It’s a pretty common disease in Mom’s family. Mom would like to have deep and meaningful conversations with me while my nightly shows were on. So I would grab the remote control and increase the volume until I made my point that the TV was going to maintain my attention for the following hour. She would leave but then return in exactly 60 minutes.

“When are you coming to Bangalore?” Bangalore Nephew demands. I giggle and settle into the drawing room couch. I love this kid, I have since I first met him when he was a baby of three months. I can relate to him too. He’s hot-heated, has issues with authority and in so many ways I see so much of me in him. His sister, Bangalore Niece, is so calm, pleasant and a true diplomat. She reminds me of my brother. This is when I find DNA so fascinating; we can see ourselves we see in “our people”. My niece, my brother’s daughter is pretty amazing too. She’s almost one with a personality so strong and fiery that it’s refreshing. I hope she really grows up to believe in the infinite power of herself, not the doubt that I have been toting along in handbag like a dirty Kleenex.

“I cannot make it this time, but next time for sure. I have something for you. Your mom will bring it for you,” I reply. “Is it something cool from New York?” he asks. “Yes, I think so. But I am not 18 so you tell me when you get it,” I reply and chuckle. “Oh Massi, not to worry you are cool. Not like Mom. If you come and I’ll take you to the Bangalore Club and we’ll go out for drinks. It would be fun! I just got a car for my birthday,” he gushes into the phone. I think I should take a moment and savor this compliment. A young desi hipster, with well-to-do parents, thinks I am still cool, not old and crusty. “Next time, I promise we’ll go to the pubs and clubs I promise,” I say and smirk.

Bangalore Cousin comes into the drawing room and gasps. She takes the phone from me and speaks to her son. “Please stop wasting my cousin’s time with talks of pubs and clubs. You are mad if you think I am letting the two of you go and party in Bangalore alone? Who knows what trouble the two of you will make? Now go study, I will see you in a few days,” she says to her son and hangs up. She gives me a big smile, shakes her head and sits on the couch. “You and my son are a deadly combination that Bangalore is not ready for,” she says and laughs.

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