I recently went to Chennai to attend my niece’s wedding – complete with a big bag full of party frocks, pavadai (South Indian lehenga), chudidar kurta, glittery sandals (Yes – I did succumb to my daughter’s wishes and bought her 2 pairs of sandals for the occasion), hair clips, bangles, hair bands, necklaces for my perky and fashion-conscious four-year old and a much smaller bag with a few kurtas and shirts for my perky and not-at-all-fashion-conscious eight-year old son.
I must admit that I approached the week-long trip with apprehension and made sure I had the iPad and Galaxy Tab packed with chargers everywhere I went (Why I hate technology but still rely on it during times when baby-sitting is just not possible – is a topic for another blog post). My fears from my children’s perspective were based on the following assumptions:
1. My kids will not eat pongal (South Indian khichdi) and idli for breakfast, nor will they relish the idea of using their hands to eat rasam rice feverishly swimming on a banana leaf with the sole aim of being un-catchable and non-eatable.
2. The typical South indian wedding is about getting up much earlier than Sun God himself, and dressing up in heavy silks only to sit with a kerchief in your hands to dab your eyes while the holy Puja fire (homam in Tamil) spews out smoke like nobody’s business.
3. All wedding guests are prone to come prepared with a typical question paper for your kids: What’s your name? Which school do you go to? How old are you?, following up the interview with an unwarranted pinch on the cheeks.
4. I’m going to hear the phrase “I’m bored” more often than I could care for.
I was in for a big surprise! We had a whale of a time – and my kids enjoyed it more than me. What with adoring white-haired grandparents of all shapes and sizes pampering them, smart peppy young college kids singing and dancing with them and no amma nagging them to do homework – my son and daughter had the time of their lives. My apprehensions were clearly baseless, because I had forgotten one key fact: children love being with people who love them. And, when your grandmother is lovingly giving away her share of chips to you so that you can gobble down the rice, the rasam rice becomes easy to eat. When you get to spend an entire evening dancing and screaming to the latest Bollywood hits (during the Sangeet ceremony), you simply cannot say “I’m bored.”