Nephews


While I do not have too many aunts I am close to, I take my role as an aunt very seriously. And being an aunt is very special. I should know. Because I have three beautiful nephews aged 9, 3 and 1.

Nephew Number One. He is obviously my favorite. Being the youngest in my family, I always secretly yearned for a younger sibling. And it happened in 2006, when S was born to my brother and sister-in-law. I call him my younger brother because that’s exactly how I feel about him. I feel protective of him like a parent/guardian but have as much fun with him like a sibling/friend. He is a powerhouse of information, and by far one of the smartest people I have ever met. From dinosaurs to dog breeds to states and capitals to space, he has all sorts of facts at his fingertips. He knows the Mahabharata inside out and enjoys asking us questions from it. And I always score negative marks because I know almost nothing about it. He regularly quizzes us on subjects he learns in school, and gives us points accordingly. Not surprisingly, my report card is almost always in the red.

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I remember an incident with him back in 2010 when he was 4. It was Sports Day in his school and I attended it along with my sister-in-law. It was a sunny day and I was wearing my sunglasses. S was participating in a race and I have no idea what happened but I teared up. As i saw him running, I could feel nothing but an extreme amount of emotion and tears streaming down. Wearing glasses helped me that day and no one saw me crying. To this day, I don’t understand that unexpected surge of emotion. It has only made me love him even more.

Another experience with him happened in Bangalore. My sister-in-law, S and I were shopping on Commercial Street. S was probably around 3 or 4 years old and wasn’t enjoying being dragged around shops by us. Finally, at one shop, he sat on the floor and told us he needs to go potty. My sister-in-law and I quickly wound up and took an auto and rushed home. And surprise surprise, our man didn’t have to go potty. He lied to us! Because he wanted to get back home! A few days later, the three of us went back to that store. And S tells us, this is the shop where I told you’ll I want to go potty!

Did I tell you how smart he is?

S and I have had so much fun together. From making green-colored French toast for him, to sharing innumerable servings of ice cream to going on bike rides. The two of us share a special bond. Back in college, during exams, I would lock my room door and study. He was less than a year old then and would keep banging on my door until I opened. He has truly been the younger sibling I never had. I could never say no to him for almost anything. He turns 10 in a few months and I only hope he doesn’t think it isn’t too cool to hang out with his aunt every now and then.

Nephew Number Two. Now this guy is just the bestest. He is unapologetic, free-spirited, has his own mind and just the cutest little monster ever. A. I haven’t had too much time to spend with A. He is completely different from his elder brother S. A is close to his parents and never really liked being away from them even if they were in the next room. So I’ve never really had the opportunity to bond with him much. But I’ve seen his personality change in the last one year. And can’t wait to meet him in person soon.

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While I only get to speak to him on FaceTime now, he is more aware of who I am and gives the warmest virtual hugs!

He has a huge craze for cars and loves lining them up in the most organized of manners. We still don’t understand everything he says but whatever he says just sounds adorable.

I hope, with time, I get to spend more time with him and we get to know each other better. Love you, A.

Nephew Number Three. Do you remember that FRIENDS episode where everyone wants to know who will get their baby if Ross and Rachel die? That’s exactly the question I ask my sister and brother-in-law! Because I would happily put V in my pocket and spoil him to no end. My husband and I absolutely adore this little ball of fur.

V is the newest addition to the family and is therefore the baby of our house. He is about 17 months old but the things he does some times seem like he is 33 or something.

I FaceTime with him almost everyday and he does nothing short of brightening it.

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V is at a phase where he is trying to talk and copies every single thing we do. I happened to yawn one day, and every time you ask him what chithi (aunt in Tamil) does, he pretends to yawn! And he has recently started calling me chithi though he only gets the ‘thi’ bit.

This boy loves being photographed and is such a poser. We always manage to get some really good pictures of him. He loves food especially sweets. He loves the outdoors. He can make you laugh by doing the absolutely funniest of things including trying to stand on his head! I’ve also probably received the most number of virtual kisses from him. He definitely has me wrapped around his little finger.

I have been fortunate to see him grow from a crawling baby to an absolutely naughty toddler. Living in the same continent has definitely helped. In the years to come, I know he is going to grow into an even stronger personality and continue to put smiles on people’s faces.

Being an aunt

Being an aunt is nothing short of a blessing. The joy these three young men have brought to my life is immense. I am grateful I know them and love them with all my heart and more. If you have a niece or a nephew, call them, write to them or meet them and tell them how much you love them. And to all my other nieces and nephews (through cousins), I love you too!

And as cheesy as the quote goes, ‘Only an aunt can give hugs like a mother, keep secrets like a sister, and share love like a friend’.

I love being an aunt!

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Finding Family


I have always thought of myself as an independent and free-thinking person. Growing up, I enjoyed quite a few liberties, thanks to my father. He did not really restrict me with regard to new things that I wanted to do. And that allowed me to have the experiences I have had, to choose journalism, to work in television. I shouldn’t be harping on having been ‘allowed’ to do these things but I know I am lucky to have had the opportunity to do what I have done.

Today, I sit thousands of miles away from him. In a one-bedroom apartment. In a foreign land. Missing what I reluctantly now call my former/other ‘home’. They say it gets easy. But it hasn’t really been. For me.

I’m trying to find my foothold. I’m trying to find all things new. I’m trying to find joy in the smallest of things. I’m trying to find myself.

I recently read somewhere that Indian families never prepare their daughters for life in a different country. We grow up under the protection of our parents, and siblings if any. Parents help us decide every single step in our lives. From which course to study to which motorcycle to purchase to which job to take. And then, when we get married and move out, to a far off place, it hits us. Starting from scratch. Building a new life. Setting up house. Making it a home. Cooking three meals. Ensuring everything is clean. Bills to be paid. Groceries to be bought. It’s a slap in the face if you have never done any of this before.

Fortunately for me, the cooking, cleaning et al have been fairly easy to adjust to. It will never be the same as life was in your ‘home’. But I’m hoping to get there.

The toughest is building a new life. The things you once took for granted are all luxuries now. Not the financial kind. Though that’s there too.

Being able to walk out and talk to your neighbours. Waiting for the vegetable vendor to arrive at your doorstep to buy coriander and green chillies for 5 rupees. Deciding not to cook and instead head to the local fast food joint and eat some Chinese fried rice and Gobi manchurian. Going to friends houses, unannounced.

I did not necessarily do all of these things when I was back home. But the fact is I had the choice to. And now I don’t. These are all luxuries now. Or memories of when I did do them. It’s amazing how you remember the littlest of things and miss them from the bottom of your heart.

While all this is fairly understandable when you move abroad, the worst adjustment is family. No one tells you how much you are actually going to miss them. When someone tells you you are going to miss them a lot, it’s an understatement. No one can even begin to tell you how much you will miss them.

It continues to surprise me, even as I write this, how much I miss my family. And the thing is, you now have to set up your own family. I’m not talking about kids and all though the ‘Is there good news?’ always pops up in the most un-subtlest of ways from an over-enthusiastic aunt or ‘trying-to-be-funny’ acquaintance.

Setting up your own family meaning, now you are the lady of the house and your husband is the man of the house. You turn to each other for advice and discussion and when you hit a roadblock you can’t go running to mom and dad (I’m sure you can, but in the real world you do need to figure out your own stuff unless it’s earth-shattering that parents have to be involved).

The heartache comes in bits and pieces. The smell of freshly-made filter coffee reminds you of making it for your father back home. Looking at fresh flowers in the temple reminds you of the flower-seller hawking your street back home. Watching a TV show makes you try to remember the shows you watched back home. It’s a painful experience. But one that you need to overcome on your own, on your own time and terms.

The wave of sickness can hit you at the most unexpected of times. Don’t even get me started on how it feels when you are actually sick. You want nothing but to be back in that home of your growing up years, to lie down and be taken care of by your parents. A warm cup of milk is all it could take to yearn and crave to go back just one more time and savor everything that you once took for granted.

What I tell myself, every single day, is to try. Because that’s the first step to anything. Trying. Put one foot in front of the other. And try. Try to do better than yesterday.

And so, this new life is like a blank canvas. I get to start from scratch. How many people can actually do that?

I’ve got a new beginning.

Today, I get up at a time of my choosing and it’s a fairly ‘adult’ time to wake up, mind you. Because I know what lies in store in the day ahead and I’m prepared. I make my own rules and decide what I do on any given day. (I know. It’s called being an adult!)

This growing up, this sense of responsibility, this setting up your own family or finding family, is actually pretty cool. No one is forcing me to do it. I’m not unhappy about it. I’m actually enjoying it! And that’s the thing about new experiences. They happen, just like that.

Friends are family for me now. You have them as close as you want but they don’t step on your toes like relatives might. Going out is an event for me. Laugh all you want, but it is. For me. I make a big deal out of the smallest of things i get to do, because I want to enjoy every bit of it. I like holding on to these moments just for a second longer, afraid at times that it may never happen again, but delighted that it is happening.

I get to sit down and ponder things through. Like I’m doing right now, as I write this. This is an opportunity for clarity, for patience, for slow and steady.

I enjoy boardgames. I enjoy cooking (I don’t enjoy looking at a full sink because I’m the one who has to make it un-full). I enjoy reading. I enjoy sitting in the patio and watch the neighbors pets do their thing as the owners pick after in little poopy bags.

This is my life now. And I’m going to make the most of it.

My family is what I make of it. We are two now. We have each other. And that’s what matters.

I get to share all of this every single day with family who live across the seven seas. It’s painful, let me remind you again. But it’s what I have right now. And if you haven’t realized it already, I’ve come to appreciate the smallest of pleasures. And this is one such.

While I do miss the sound of the vegetable vendor shouting ‘Beans, Carrot, Brinjal’, or lighting lamps during Diwali, or navigating my way through crazed traffic, I’ve come to understand the peace and quiet that’s predominant here. It has allowed me time to find myself. To reflect on things gone by and people who have been.

Family is always here, there and everywhere. While my family is far far away, I have another family right here. Family is what you make it to be. It isn’t always about a mother, father, sister, brother and dog (or cat). It can be just two people. Or even friends. Or even acquaintances who could become friends. You build your life with what you have. And this is what I have now.

My new family has made me appreciate my family back home, a lot more. I love them even more. I have also come to realize that family isn’t always blood. They could be anyone who makes you feel comfortable and accepts you for who you are.

I carry my family, old and new, everywhere I go. I think of what they would do if they were with me right then. They sustain me.

I read a quote somewhere that went, “We must take care of our families wherever we find them”. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.