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By on Sep 3, 2009 in Personal | 6 comments

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Guess who’s back? My whirlwind tour to abodes of various relatives has finally come to a delightful end. The end is delightful, that is, not the act of touring itself. It’s a curious thing, ye know, because whenever you tell others that you’re off visiting relatives you’re often met with sympathetic sighs from your peer circle. Like a man on death row, you trudge dreadfully off to whatever fate has in store for you.

When you reach those abodes, dozens of grandmas, grandads, aunts and uncles descend upon you. Old age seems to convert a person’s corneas into funhouse mirrors which make the person being viewed thinner than in reality. So the cackling grandmas and aunts then hire a few trucks to keep dumping food onto your plates to “get you back to good health” (the excuse this time was “Look what chickenpox has done to you”). One of the things I was fed was fruit pulao, a dish which exists for the mere outrageousness of the whole idea. Like, you know, glow-in-the-dark sunglasses. I also have these punctures on my skin which they claim are mosquito bites but which I suspect are the places where they attached an IV drip to keep feeding me while I was asleep. Man, this obsession with feeding you till you drop dead of exhaustion reminds me of the witch in Hansel & Gretel. Yes, I know I’m going to Hell, thank you very much in advance (for I’m sure you would try to point out this fact).

You have no idea how difficult it is to find a decent, liberally licensed image of a witch

You have no idea how difficult it is to find a decent, liberally licensed image of a witch. Look, she's even offering something to eat.

When you’re suitably incapable of speaking or moving about in any way, The Relatives will regale you with tales from your childhood. This is to ensure that if you don’t die of food poisoning, sheer embarrassment will do the trick. The stories are the same every time you visit and every time you hear them mortified. I really don’t want to know I cried like a baby and wouldn’t let go of my parents on my first day to school (and pretty much everyday for few weeks after that). You see, I don’t recollect it, nor do I want to recollect it. Especially not each and every time I visit a relative. Then there that dreaded line Koto boro hoye gache (“You’ve grown so big”). Humans have this tendency to take stating the obvious too far. (As Douglas Adams pointed out, “You seem to have fallen down a 100-foot well. Are you all right?”) Of course I’ve grown up, duh! Or maybe they’re disappointed that I didn’t turn out to be the one midget in the family of whom videos could be put up on YouTube.

Whatever places you trudge off to thusly, regardless of which city you’re talking about, it almost invariably turns out that there’s no Internet connection. By that I mean an Internet connection which doesn’t drop dead due to the shame of being a dial-up. (Besides, my new laptop doesn’t have a port for modems anyway.) So what am I supposed to do? There is, after all, a limit to how much you can sit in sweltering heat (due to power cuts) and watch incredibly funny guys gais chewing cud.

Incredibly funny gai

Incredibly funny gai

[source – johnmuk]

Further turns out that though the places you go to have a cable / Tata Sky connection, yet they’re subscribed to specifically those set of channels that you never watch. I don’t find watching India TV amusing and I wasn’t going to start now. In the course of this and that and a bit something completely else, I had to help out with recharging a Tata Sky account. At our home I’ve always recharged online but this time I had to use a recharge card. And the curious thing is that on that, Tata Sky has listed ‘Erection’ as a service tax category. That itself is weird, but it turns even weirder if you consider that there are enough number of taxable services that our dear Indian government had to create a separate service tax category called ‘Erection’. Oh, and there was this switch.

Internet, gone. TV, gone. Pretty much left reading books as the only option to keep my sanity. I’d lugged around a few plus there’s always my extensive ebook collection. You might see a quite a few book reviews coming up apart from the ones which have been posted already.

That brings me to cyber cafes. I had to file a few blog posts for more.VoiceTAP and thus had to resort to cyber cafes. I haven’t been to one in, like, years – and they still remain shitty shady places where the keyboard doesn’t work. And where the guy owning the shop formats and reinstalls Windows XP on all his PCs daily. I’m not making this up. And once when my pen drive wasn’t detected he thought it might be because of a few missing keys on a keyboard. Speaking of keyboards, I feel uncomfortable typing in any keyboard which has stiff keys as if they belong to a typewriter.

Ever noticed how the smallest of Indian dhabas calls itself a ‘hotel’? Must be an India-specific phenomenon. We are like this only.

I invite you to share your relative-ly horrible (or wonderful) experiences.