I recently encountered 7 mamas at an acquaintance’s home. My acquaintance is a Gujju bhai and like us, he too had moved recently to Pittsburgh. They have a 3 month old daughter and invited us to their home for a Ganesh Puja. I was obviously excited as such opportunities provide interesting viewing for a Kaaka story! But I ended up overwhelmed.
Let me introduce you to the hosts along with my usual gyan:
A gujju software engineer. (That would surprise Sarita ben, my good old neighbour from Kolkata days. How can a gujju not be a New Jersey type motel running gujju, she would have said! Times have changed!)
This dude is an engineering grad from US and has been in amreeka for 10 years with a green card, anay (anay = ‘and’ in gujju. Now replace all full stops / exclamation marks in previous sentences with ‘anay’ for … just for fun! If you are reading my blog, you are anyway idling, I assume ;-))
Nice and sweet girl. Her daughter, being so small, she had to excuse herself every now and then to fulfill duties of being a lunch box for the kiddo!
Pretty active mama that reminded me of Chavanprash and ‘Thirty Plus ads’ I had seen long long ago (Chavanprash ad shows teen girl watching old man run to catch a moving bus and she thinks aloud, “saatth saala ka Buddhaa hain ya jawaan! and the other ad showed Jeetendra in an all white costume (as usual) dancing for ‘ThirtyPlus’ pills). Hmmm ….
Mama is Ahmedabad bred, Baroda educated, Surat employed and back to Ahmedabad settled, gentleman. Although he had come to Carriage Park Apartments only two weeks ago, he boasted of having 25 mama friends already. Needless to say he doesn’t need Orkut or Web 2.0 for enhancing social networking capabilities. He spoke about BJP for a while too and hence I nicknamed him Lotus Connections Mama.
Something I couldn’t understand, Beta addressed his dad as ‘Bhai’! I am yet to figure out why!
Another random observation:
These mamas, especially in an apartment complex like CP have a blast, I say!! They have benches in the children’s play area where you can see round table conferences of mamas and mamis (strictly separate conferences) and it is interesting how mamas are from different parts of India and yet bond so well! With whatever is happening in Mumbai Raj nowadays, I wonder if even Mumbai can boast of such avuncular camaraderie in the future. Note that such conferences have shifted to mama homes since last week thanks to falling temperatures.
A smiling auntie that resembled Sarita ben. (Sarita bhabhi to many)
“Aao aao, kya aathey hi nahin ho?? Aaya karo ney, acchhaa lagtha hain? Come for dinner sometime”
Self: “Thanks auntie, of course, aayengey. Ab mil liye hain tho zaroor aayangey. Aap bhi aao kabhi. Hee hee … !”
(My mind): “Po dee, who wants to come and eat dal with sugar, curry with sugar? Tell me you can cook Punjabi or South Indian meals and I will come)”
After we entered and exchanged pleasantries, Lotus Connections Uncle went out to get 6 of his friends. From a scene of quiet and peace, the house transformed into a Mama playground – 2 Tamil mamas, 2 Gult mamas, 1 UP mama and 1 Kannada mama!
Lotus Connections Uncle:
“Meet my friends, this is Karthik, Subramanian, this is Subbu, ha ha ha ha ha, his name is also Subramanian, this is Srinivas, this is Srini, ha ha ha ha, can (pronounced cane) you believe it? because his name is also Srinivas and this is Gupta jee. Array juice aney snakes aapo nay (to wife). dekha dikraa, idhar aakey mera sab dost Madraasi hain! Ha ha, yahaan tho sab aapke casht waaley hain!
“Hello, this is my kid and wife. Haan uncle, you do see a lot of south Indians here (squirming in my seat as I wasn’t sure where all this would lead) lekin bahut north Indians bhi hain. Waisey bhi IT tho saara India ko touch kar gaya hain!”
(My mind): poda loossu, don’t you know what is caste?? we are all madraasis, is it?!! are you and gupta jee from same caste?
Tamil mama, Subbu 1:
(In tamil): “Neenga yendha ooru?” (where are you from?
The tone obviously indicated he wanted to know where my ancestors were from and I assumed that he would not take Chennai as an acceptable answer) This mama also seemed very desperate to get info from different sources and probably had a consolidated, customized (read masalaa-ed) data base and a tamil facebook group data embedded in his head. I wanted to call him Mash-up Mama, but given my state and frank feelings, decided to name him Bash-Up Mama (Bum! J)
“Srivalliputtoor, mama. Neenga?”
I hate it when I see people talk in their own language when there are others around them who do not understand that language. Gults do it more than others, but there are enough representatives from all over the country that are almost as bad. Bongs, Marathis, Tams, …. Hindi speaking northies assume everybody knows hindi and then will give national language gyan if some poor southie (raavan) doesn’t understand hindi. I have started feeling less and less irritated with these communications protocols now, as such mother tongue based conversations are all around us. I just give up!!
Very excited. “Appidiyaa? Wunderfull. Endha theru, enga appa kooda anga thaan irundhaaru. Merku maada teruvaa, kizhakku maada teruvaa…. (Loose translation: Oh, is it? My father was also from there. You from West Street? Or East Street?)
“Oh, is it? Actually, my father moved out from there when he was 5 years old and I have been there for a day when I was 2 yr old”.
(My mind):: grrr!!!!
“Oh, then maybe your grandfather and my grandpa were neighbours. We may even be relatives because everybody in those days were relatives and stayed in the same village. It is only now that things have changed so drastically. Of course there are positives and negatives of both scenarios but then that is how life is, ilaaiyaa? Apporam ….”
Smile … hee hee
I turn to my daughter and start playing …
(My mind): Aaaah, lets go home!!
I even consider pinching my daughter when nobody is looking. Idea was to make her cry as that might offer an opportunity to run away from there
The Uncles are relentless
Gult mama (Srini 1):
“So, what positions are you in jobbu?”
“Well, I am a manager”.
“Aah, I am retired Customs Director”.
The emphasis on Customs Director suggested that I either get up and salute him or hand him a hundred dollar bill (My mind was tempted to think of it as an old habit, eh!) Also the Retired Old Mama status and Customs Director earned him a nickname, CD-ROM!!
“That’s awesome! where were you?”
(Me saying ‘awesome’!! That’s gora effect on me!!)
Ignores my question! “Do you know Telegu?”
“Can you understand Telegu?”
“Do you know somebody who knows Telegu?”
“Yes. There are lots of Telegus in Carriage Park, I am sure”.
“Tchh … Tchh …. (accompanied by vigorous shake of head) Oh, Apartment means … I must have met. In fact, Reddy saaru from 2nd floor was also in Customs and posted in Bengal, but, he was junior to me. He knew me and I just met him here. I was posted for long time at Andaman also. Then, Mumbai. Have you got your parents to the Pittsburghu, here?”
CD-ROM: (packs another punch)
“Oh, second kid hona so lekar aana … kehthey”.
“Also summer is best times for visiting America, especially East Coast-u. Cold weather is not good for old peoples”
All torture mamas laugh in unison at first statement and nod in agreement at next statements.
I take my phone out and set an alarm for 645 pm. It would have been rude to run away just like that – hence the alarm was set with a 5 minute delay.
I quickly gobble snacks that Sarita bhabhi offers, wash it down with a cheap fruit punch from Sam’s club (now, I too am becoming a critic mama), watch some of the Torture uncles do uthak baithak (a custom where you hold left ear with right hand and vice versa and bend knees, straighten knees, bend, straighten – get into a finite do-loop). Some uncles gently slap their cheeks as well in front of the Ganesh idol (that gives me great pleasure and wonder if they were apologizing to God for being such deliberate pains)
I make my way out as the alarm goes off with the apt ring tone, ‘down2business’, and I cling on to my blackberry, excuse myself and make my way out towards home, screaming, “hello, hello” into the phone. While coming out, I see that Subbu 2 was asking my wife if she had a sister or knew anybody suitable for a 27 year old Iyer, Bharani nakshatra, IIT Madras BTech, Stanford MS, clean habits, own house boy, one sister married and in California ….. Hmmm …. So this one seemed like a Professional in Matrimonial Partnerships, eh!. But I decide against giving him any nick name. I will save some other day for Karthik and Gupta uncles.
I stepped out into my free world again and at that point, reading about Joe Woh-Saala-Bakra plumber seemed a better option than the mama overdose.