Family , Friends and other Nuts

Written By

Chitra Doraiswami

Family , Friends and other Nuts Loading

Theme: The Indian Family: The good, the bad and the crazies

What did we do before TV, Movie and Computers? We were irritated, aggravated and amused by the antics of our relatives. All of us had hordes of them and they were all more or less, certifiable!

Take my Granny, Thangadi. Thangamma, actually, but it didn’t sound hip enough for those days. The family was proud of their North Indian postings, so she was called Thanga ji but it morphed into Thangadi. And Thangadi she remained.

She had a bunch of sisters and they visited us off and on. Lalita pati from Chennai was a frequent visitor.

Both the old girls would doze off to dreamland before Melville deMello could say , ‘The news, read by…’They would be thoroughly refreshed, or at least Lalitamma would be, and she would start a long and loud conversation, ‘Thanga, tell me why did you go to Hirannianh’s house in 1923?’ Granny would stop in mid-snore and snort, ‘Fat lot you know about it. I’ll tell you…’

The rest of us would plead in unison, ‘No, no. Don’t talk now. Go to sleep’.

The voices would drop to a stage whisper and as the debate grew acrimonious, the volume would increase again. We would screech again. This would go on till four o’ clock , when exhausted, both would snore off once more.

Lalitamma would poke her head out of the blanket and say a cheery good morning when we were all rushing around getting ready for college and work.

She was a real go getter. Her husband was a sweetie-pie and like many a sweetie –pie, he had no gumption or get-up-and-go. They had a ‘passel’ of kids (but, of course) and Lalitamma had to make ends meet somehow.

Once, she went to Delhi. My Dad was her host and escort for that jaunt. She got off the train, handed over her suitcase to Dad and hared off towards a special compartment. Dr.S.Radhakrishnan had just got off the train with his retinue.

‘Uncle, Uncle,’ said Pati, ran up to him and fell at his feet. He spoke courteously to her and in a few moments of palaver, she had wheedled him into granting her a chance to hold a music recital in Rashtrapati Bhavan!

Dad was hanging onto the suitcase and his heart, aghast at this goings on!

So, the big day dawned. Pati and Dad were taken to the President’s Estate in style. The president and a select audience heard Pati’s ‘Kutcheri’(recital)which she prefaced with a , ‘I’m just a simple lady from the South’ and a simper.

‘How is the President your uncle?’ asked a bemused Dad. Pati breezily said, ‘I’m from the South and so is he. That is quite enough’.

Pati, if she had tried this stunt today would have had more holes than a colander from a BlackCat’s machine gun!

I have one more of this Gran(Pati’s) story. She had come to Bengaluru to attend a wedding. She had brought her youngest son Ravi, along. A big gang of people including the said uncle and my granny left for the wedding at Malleshwaram. The job lot got onto a bus and once they started talking, they were loud and vociferous. If I’m not mistaken, ‘the Hiranniah of 1923’ topic would have come up. This would have lead to a hot debate.

The conductor finally got some relief when the last stop arrived and they all tumbled out, still arguing.

The driver and conductor must have mopped their brows and started the long journey back to Basavanagudi with a relieved sigh. But that didn’t last for long. The relief, I mean. Up popped a tousled head followed by a wail. Pati had forgotten her kid in the excitement!

No way the bus could have gone back. So on went Ravi soothed by toffees, bakery stuff, etc to South Bengaluru. He told us many moons later, that he had had the time of his life with everyone pampering him.

When the bus went back to Malleswaram, a chastened Pati and co were waiting to pick him up and get a good dressing down from the driver and conductor, gratis.

Weird enough for you? Wait, I have more. My ‘Auntie’, well, my friend’s mother, loved the dolce vita…cards, parties, races et al. All good things end and Unckipoo (her husband) retired and the cash flow lessened.

Aunt couldn’t live without her card parties. Some how it carried on. The mystery was explained when Aunty’s mangal sutra which usually rested on her paunch behind the sari pallu slowly came out of hiding and became a choker.

Aunty was happily selling off chunks of the gold chain to fuel her gambling!

The same Aunt was looking for an ‘alliance’ for her youngest son. The ‘maybe rishtedars’ came alone as the boy had gone out of town. No girl in the initial ‘negotiations’ (phew, doesn’t it sound like the UN trying to save a Banana Republic from a coup?) ‘Show me a picture of the boy’, asked the lady. Aunty rummaged in her desk and came up with his boyhood photo – with the school blazer and bandy legs in shorts!

This was bad enough but the other lady was worse. ‘Is this his son?’ she asks when the guy is yet to be married!

Ha, ha…what price relatives?




Chitra Doraiswami, 69, is from Bangalore. She has written for many publications such as the Deccan Herald, The Times, Femina, Eve’s Weekly, etc. Chitra has many an interesting tale to tell including the one about finishing her Masters along with her son; sadly “only” getting a First Class, where her son got a rank. She joined CMR, NPS as Headmistress two decades ago and is now known as the Associate Principal of the institution. She also has a sixteen year old grandson. Chitra is an avid dancer, reader and drama-enthusiast. She's traveled extensively with her husband who was in the IAF. She taught wherever they were posted. Chitra enjoys teaching people innovative ways of helping children learn, but she is definitely not the prototypical fluffy grandma!

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