Few days back, my brother ACM faced his toughest test of all. Imagine being cornered with the better part of your family that includes parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course Shiny and Maximus (our dogs) along with the corresponding family of his long-time girlfriend and being questioned on the status of their relationship. Damn ! I would have given anything to get out of that situation. You see, he is scheduled to follow my footsteps to the US this month and my parents wouldn’t let go without hearing about some kind of assurance on his love-life. They seem to think that he is some kind of fickle-minded, voracious Don Juan who will hook up with the first white chick and promptly ditch his so-cute girlfriend who will wither in pain back in India. But I know better that he is no dork and surely not “gutsy” enough to indulge in the forbidden (in short, faatu hai). Although he is smart and handsome enough to turn heads, chicks and gaymen alike and much to his irritation, likened to a better version of Saif Khan, he is quite a conservative when it pertains to the matters of the heart. I am more of a staid Mahesh Manjrekar look-alike, but that’s another story.
But yet for my parents’ reassurance, he (surprisingly) agreed to undergo this tortourous ordeal. His girlfriend’s parents (who brought along another aunt’s family, as if in some form of self-defense in case they were ambushed and held hostage) were invited to our home for a tiny “getogether”. Surely my dear maushi (aunt) and mama (uncle) couldn’t stay away and joined the fun to make it an complete formal face-off between the Mhatres and the Chaphekars. The culprits in question, ACM and his girlfriend were seated in the center and after a bit of warming up, my dad landed the killer punch “So what do you have to say for yourself?“. The poor guy stammered a prompt response “ I promise I won’t do anything in the US“. I so missed being there at that time. Everyone erupted in laughter, diffusing the tension for a while. But then finally both of them admitted that they were committed, much to my dad’s relief. Although it was no formal engagement, sweets and gifts were exchanged (even one for me is being sent over…so nice of them), followed by the ritual of mass feet-touching. So the deal was sealed. He was formally in a relationship that would culminate in marriage in the distant future i.e. after I am sacrificed at the altar of marriage and same goes for her elder sis. Although their relationship was pretty evident and known to both the families, this ceremonial embarrassment just laid the official seal on the whole affair. But frankly I missed the whole thing and was told about it after the guests left (yup, we dropped the hostage plan after all). This is the umpteenth family function I have missed including three Diwalis, three Ganesh Chaturthis, and tons of birthdays and anniversaries. But I guess that is the price of studying in the US. I am awaiting the photos of the event, which I am sure I will love just for the stupid embarrased expression on ACM’s face but more so, I am waiting for him to join me here. Just 2 weeks left.
As for me, Atlanta was blessed with its out-of-the-blue thunderstorm and I celebrated the rains by having some good ‘ol kaanda bhaaji at Gorin’s but the Ameriki insisted on calling it onion rings. But what the heck, I enjoyed it nevertheless.