My family, like all other Indian families i suppose takes this above mentioned trait to a whole new level. I could call myself, Gayatri Bhadran - almost graduate, fraud mallu, potential field journalist, wannabe Bipasha Basu et al.
But in THIS family, I am the great granddaughter of C. Keshavan - writer, freedom fighter, philosopher, the very first Chief Minister of Kerala state. Or i could call myself Gayatri Bhadran, youngest granddaughter of Captain P Thyagarajan - Deputy Port conservator, a very charming, dashing merchant navy officer who had a tale or two to tell - which would either leave people completely shocked and at a loss for words or it would leave them amused and in splits of laughter.
When i was younger, I LOVED family get togethers, back then Family Gatherings = Loads of good food, mischief and 25-30 equally crazy, mad cousins who'd help me with my pranks.
But the older i got, I began to loathe these family gatherings. There were too many nameless faces who walked up to me and enquired with glee, "Gaayaaatri, do you remember meee?" and right there I'd find myself in a tight spot.
Aunts of all shapes and sizes draped in expensive sarees, looking everyone up and down and commenting on how much weight has been gained or lost, where they got their earrings from, who is the prospective groom X for bride Y - that lucky girl, she has quite a catch, the servant lady ran away with the driver man - and so and on and so forth. Juicy tidbits of gossip always float around these women.
The uncles on the other hand are loud, huge, boisterous and crack dirty jokes like nobody's business. They claim to know all about computers, IT professions, fitness regimes and who Bollywood's sweetheart is at the moment.
Yesterday, after a grueling zillion hour train ride, I stepped foot on God's Own Country - my native town - Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram (Phew!) No sooner had i reached home and bear hugged my grandmother, she announced that I must get ready A.S.A.P and rush to a close relatives' house as it was the 16th day function of his late wife and as a passing comment she mentioned that i looked emaciated and food deprived.
15 minutes later, we ( mom, gran and me) squeezed ourselves into a Maruti Wagon R and headed off to the relative's house. All eyes were on us latecomers (a few disapproving glances and head shakes) as we got out of the car.
The widower, one of my grandfathers (i have roughly around 10 grandmothers and grandfathers - its all part of being a malayalee) looked up from his food and teared. We rushed to his side, hugged and kissed him and then seated ourselves for an elaborate, sumptuous Sadhya (a typical south Indian vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf)
Sadhya done, I chatted up one of my favourite uncles ( yes, again i have a million uncles and aunts) said polite hellos to the aunts and then settled down with all my uncles.
The next 2 hours were a blurry haze of nonsensical chatter, huge bellies wobbling with laughter, crude comments and of course dirty jokes (this goes without saying you know)
MY FAMILY - You'll either fall completely hopeless head over heals in love with them OR you'd loathe them at sight. But i assure you, if you stick around a while, they'll grow on you and before you know it, you'll be one of them.