I checked my usual list of channels: Star World, AXN, Zee Cafe and the groupies of that category; HBO and Star movies (with a fleeting glance at the 'i' of some cooler sounding movies in MGM, etc), jumping thereon to the News channels with a customary stop at CNN IBN, CNN and BBC in that order, and then on to Discovery/ Nat Geo/ Fox History to check for interesting things.
My channel scan complete, with nothing holding my attention for more than 2.3 nanoseconds, I glided over to a channel I wouldn't be caught dead watching, but can admit to having seen by 'accident'. Ha! Ohkay. Now. So... ahem... yes, I found myself watching a daily soap on 'Colors', (I won't STILL say which one, but that maybe because I ended up watching more than one :P).
Settling on a bunch of cushions, I watched for a long time, having some idea of the various storylines and plots, courtesy my grandparents and mum, without whose respective 'companies', my dinner is incomplete. But what does it matter, the story never changes drastically, and remains generally on the same page for most soaps, give or take a few twists and turns.
As I sat and was sucked into this world of heavy jewellery, complex relationships and kanjivarams, I realized how the very kernel of the daily soap feeds off the desire of the average Indian (yes honey, if you're not signing movie contracts or cricket sponsorship deals on a Sunday afternoon, then you ARE an average Indian) for a stable 'umbrella', along with all the compounded complexities that come with 'joint families' and community living.
It's quite cool, given the current trend towards 'nuclearizing' the modern family (which by the way, is a damn awesome sitcom on Star World, and totally NOT about 'hum do humaare do'), that soap-makers still gift-wrap family values and togetherness and present it to the increasingly restless Indian. It's a dreamy getaway for more than half of India, post office hours, where family values still work; and relationships stand the test of time. And it IS a very feel-good feeling. Not so much for me, because I tend to see beyond what's on the screen, but still.
I actually connect with that train of thought, because I've grown up in an umbrella family.
And thank heavens for that. I have more cousins, chachas, tayas, buas, maasis, maamis than I can count, and definitely more than I can love, but I still adore each one of them all the same. Each a character, each making my life interesting on a daily basis.
Because growing up in a large group of people is always such a tussle, one learns to be accommodating, adaptive and flexible along the way. You may have vested interests, but you have a keen sense of judgement and an eye for the 'greater good'.
Given, there may be 10 opinions where there should be none (oooh woh ladka theek nahee hai...), but you grow up a warmer, socially adept and broad minded person.
Things I and Saas-Bahu sagas agree on:
1. There is nothing like family when you're neck deep in trouble.
2. There is nothing like a marriage in a huge family. Oh my GOD, I live the years in between them just hoping and praying for the next one to come sooner.
3. There are always, always ALWAYS things you won't tell your best friends, things you won't tell your siblings, things you won't tell your parents, but WILL tell your cousins. Muhahaha!
4. You get money when they visit you. You get money on general festivals. You get money on all the brother-sister festivals. On your birthdays, exam results, and on every randomly spontaneous dance you do at a family party (if you do it well, that is. No Dadaji waves big notes around your head if you're not impressive and you didn't invite atleast one of the 3rd Gen on the Floor)
5. When one of the babies of the family takes a liking to you, there isn't a joy purer.
6. Sharing clothes, hand-me-downs, sharing jewellery, books, shot-glasses; it's ALL part of the package. And we ALL do it, no matter how well off we are.
7. Family vacations abroad!
Secret: Everyone detests a train of Indians descending upon Point A, in XYZ city in *#* country.
Bigger Secret: We don't care! We love it, and if you let go of your pretensions, you can join in the fun too! And people have. We've made an entire ship of people want to click pictures with us. :P
8. There's always someone to go to the movies with ;)
9. You ALWAYS get permission when you're with cousins.
10. Nothing is inappropriate. And you can ONLY bitch about family to cousins :P
And a bazillion other points. Three of my closest cousins actually went back to their 'home country' (bleh, Internet Security 101), 2 days ago. And I couldn't shake that sinking feeling. I hate it. I probably wont see them for another 1 or 2 years, unless someone gets married really soon.
And I do want to practice co-ordinated Bhangra moves with those guys for a wedding. So badly.
And I want to spend endless nights 'stealing from the kitchen' and talking about random things, holed up in a blanket, looking like a preposterous little golliwog (I can, mind you, with my hair, for those of you who've seen me)
Air-guitaring. Tickle-bombs. Sour-punk.
Stale jokes. Bad jokes.
And random pokes.
And pillowfights. And drunken nights.
I love my family :) . They may suck at various degenerative levels.
But they rock my world!! \m/