Most definitely my last post of the year, I have made up my mind that I am not going to spend precious, albeit fickle words boring everyone including myself with exaggerated plans of self improvement and hopes and dreams of amassing obscene amounts of wealth and catching up on the backlog of much needed happy moments. Neither is this space going to be wasted on overdone reflections of the recent past and wistful contemplation of the near future. I have done that plenty of times. So what shall I write about I wonder?
A good place to start would be a recollection of the hilarious happenings of last weekend that once again familiarized me with the idiosyncrasies of my clan. December is probably one of the busiest months in the calendar year. Not only is there plenty of work to catch up on before the large hand of clock breaks its near perfect synchrony as it creeps past the midnight hour indicating the onset of another year, but finite hours that the days in December offer are often packed with festivities and celebrations of various kinds. Weddings dominate this long list of revelries that occupy my social calendar each year, more so now that I am getting older. Not only do I have to be an active, willing participant in sharing the trill and excitement of distant and not so distant relatives as they embark upon a supposedly long, wonderful, adventurous journey through health and sickness and which ever other clichéd phrase they use to describe it, but friends too are now included in the equation!
I am not complaining though, I love weddings, not so much for the people and social interactions bit, but mostly for the superfluous factors like the delicious food, the seemingly never ending, free flow of booze and of course the dancing, especially the dancing. Okay, so my rather traditional Maharashtrian family does not include any of the above in their matrimonial festivities, but none the less, I grudgingly admit I do like attending family weddings, although the enthusiasm this time around is dampened.
So the second, not so distant in relation, but far away in affinity cousin got hitched last Saturday. The celebrations were trite but pleasant none the less. Everyone one was in a good mood, willing to go along with the motions of the day. The mediocre meal was finally consumed after hours and hours of waiting. Circa 2008 and we are still waiting for the boys’ side to be sated first? How truly archaic and unfair, but hey, I don’t make the rules, when it is my time I shall make sure that delicate scales of justice are more or less balanced. All those that are hungry will not be denied a morsel no matter what side they represent!
That evening, after the bride was packed off to her new home amongst a great flurry of tears, the K clan gathered around in my cousin’s living room. They were engaged in a much enthusiastic postmortem of the wedding, my aunts strained relations with her siblings and last but not the least a detailed comparison between the pros and cons of using the Indian squatter toilets as opposed to the infinitely better looking Western style commode!
My sister and I were vaguely paying attention to the content of the animated cacophony that encompassed the place, until the conversation steered towards intimate details about everyone’s bowel movements. Suddenly our ears piqued with great curiosity as we started at each in disbelief!
“Is this for real?” I questioned silently as I pointedly stared at her.
“You better believe it.” She replied as a highly amused grin played upon her lips that threatened to break into a full-fledged chortle.
For next twenty minutes (yes I know the exact time as I made it a point to peek at my watch right when the conversation began and precisely when it ended) we heard a heated debate on what was really better for you, the good old squat a technique that plays havoc upon your old wobbly knees and agitates your arthritis or the great genius of the Western style toilet mechanism that is a sure fire way of preventing those aching joints from getting any worse, but a no go if you suffer from mild to severe constipation.
“Squatting puts pressure on your lower belly and therefore helps gives you faster, much needed relief.” Said Aunt #1, without a singular moment of hesitation, as if she had great authority upon the surface.
“Yes, but the pros of the Western style toilet most certainly outweigh the cons. There is always fiber that you can take to soften your bowels, but arthritis is tough to manage.” Aunt # 2 said.
Let’s just say that what continued to ensue was one “shitty” exchange. I wish I could assert that this was actually the worst part of the evening, but no, sadly it doesn’t end there. I have an embarrassingly loud voice that I sometimes fail to take notice of. I maybe in a perfect, not too loud conversation with someone, when suddenly my voice takes a life of its own and the decibels rise exponentially with every passing word. I have been chided for it in the past and have often burst a blood vessel work wondering why this is so. Until last weekend I had no bloody clue and then it hit me, whether it is bowel movements, someone’s husband, the growing price of potatoes or my husbandless state, my family is amazingly noisy! Always trying to one up each other, not by the sheer strength of their argument or their great insight, but purely on basis of how incredibly loud they can be!
First as children and now as adults we had to always scream to make our voice heard and put in our two cents. If you can’t scream it out loud, you ain’t got it is the Kulkarni motto. Be it right, wrong or plain outright ridiculous was another issue altogether. Then there is uncle R who is plagued with verbal diarrhea, no matter what the situation demands, no family gathering would be complete without him making inappropriate remarks constantly.
I can go on and on about the eccentrics that make up the K clan and their sometimes hilarious and often annoying attributes. But just when I get a tad bit too unhindered with disparaging remarks, I notice an uncanny resemblance between us, that’s when the realization dawns; we may not be all that different after all. This is when the insults die in my mouth and the ferverent prayer begins, “God, please don’t let me be like them when I grow up!”