Running in the Family…

Home, UK Thursday 10 February, 2011 3.50am GMT

I returned home about about 3.5 hours ago from an evening meeting in London… and on the way back I just felt the need to write.. the topic was something I have wanted to write about since the past weekend. A quick catch up on some work and onto this…

It’s good to be back here writing again. My last posting was just before we came into the new year and I have been itching to write since then – so much to say but finding the time was hard. Then when I did get the time to write, the moment to put pen to paper had passed… I find that one must be in that particlar state of mind, that particular mood to pour thoughts onto here.

So… even if I do not have the time, I must find the time. It allows me to be creative (something I have found that I actually need)… it allows me to relax in a way… be at one, be at peace… a bit like standing by the sea shore listening to the waves and watching either a sunrise or a sunset.

I have been travelling again… my first trip of the year – to the USA.. the bitter cold of NYC and the hot and inviting clime of Miami. It gave me the required time to reflect again, re-energise and get back home with gusto…

On my return, a couple of engagements ensued. Both very welcome… because they were spent with people I love… my extended family. The first with my father’s side and the second with a cousin from my mother’s side (well, technically my uncle as he is my mum’s cousin, but as he is younger than me, and we spent a lot of time together in our younger years, he is more like *my* cousin).

Life tends to take over and we end up not spending as much time with people we want to. So when the opportunity arises is is mostly an acceptance from my side, no matter how far the trek. So, soon after I landed back in the UK, took the drive over to Bristol for my niece’s 1st birthday party that was taking place the next day. This would be the first time I got to meet her!

You must understand that although she is my cousin’s daughter, in the culture I grew up in, relationships have a ‘closer’ meaning… especially in my generation and the generations before me. So a cousin’s daughter is a niece, a mum’s cousin is either an uncle or an aunty. In this instance I am my niece’s uncle… the hindi word being Mamaji (literally translated as mum’s brother with the ‘ji’ suffix signifying respect). None of this 1st cousin twice removed, etc… which incidentally I find fascinating although confusing and have to keep looking up the definitions!

All suited, booted and bespectacled up on Saturday afternoon, I made my way over to the restaurant the party was being held in. Entered and what a pleasure to meet and greet my uncles, aunties, cousins and their partners, nephews and nieces – three generations under one roof. The birthday girl herself – so cute and absolutely gorgeous… she looked a bit confused with the presence of so many people interested in her. It was also an opportunity to see my parents, whom I feel I do not see as often as I would like.

Receiving blessings from elders is always nice… their interest in you and what you are up to, at the same time as getting words of wisdom from them. It struck me recently that in addition to learning from my elders, I love to talk to the younger generations too. It is nice for me to keep in touch with what they are up to, and I also find I learn a lot from them! I do try and keep my finger on the pulse. 🙂

I sometimes forget how old some of my nephews and niece’s are. Some have already left university and are working (such as practicing law or going to work for one of the largest engineering firms in the country)… sometimes I still consider them to be very young… not even adult… (same with my younger sister!)… and then I have to pinch myself and remind myself that they are young adults and that when I was a quarter of a century old I considered myself to be old enough to stand on my own two feet. How time moves on and we easily forget how we used to be. Talking to them about the field they are in is certainly an eye opener.. no more gaga googoos… instead extremely intelligent conversations and exchanging of ideas!

Excerpts from the song, “The Greatest Love of All” come to mind…

“I believe the children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

Why is it that over time we forget to be like the young ones.. be it a 4 year old with no concept of fear, or a 20 year old with dreams of conquering the world? At what point do we stop dreaming and follow the crowd? Why? Talking to the younger generation certainly wakes up those feelings… and it is extremely inspiring. The older generations give one a sense of stability and a way of looking at the world that is based on their decades of experiences. The younger generations give one a “get up and go” sensibility that is fresh and different… a view into the growing future. The two extremes collide, everything turns upside down and one’s mind becomes colourful before settling on a calming hue once the dichotomies have merged and melded to form an opinion and a perspective!

Some highlights from that day that I will remember forever – won’t be mentioning any names, but those of you who were involved may realise I am writing about you…

“This is your trendy uncle. When you grow up, ask him for style tips”

For what it’s worth, I have never considered myself to be trendy or stylish, although I do attempt to be so. However, I thank you for your kindness. 🙂

“You look like an actor”

Someone else made a comment that it looked I was from the thespian fraternity, and back in November someone mentioned I looked like Johnny Depp! Anyway, the person who made the comment above also made a comment a few years ago at another family function – this must have been about 12 years ago and was along the lines of, “you look like a young entrepreneur”. The guy who made this comment.. always a pleasure to talk to him.. he has a certain calmness about him that is enveloping.

“You are rising in cool points”

The above comment was by a teenage niece and was because she did not realise until that day that I follow Metallica or any music outside of the ‘norm’ for an uncle, whatever the norm is. What an accolade to be told by a teenager that one may be considered cool. That said, some of my other choices of music do mean that my cool points get reduced a tad. Oh dear!

There was another teenage niece at the function who does not like Metal music, but she too was surprised that an older person was still into that. The thing that will stick in my mind is her slightly younger sister who said hello to me when I walked into the restaurant and without prompting gave me a hug. That was nice.

“Are you keeping an eye on them?”

A question from my cousin’s wife in relation to her children who are on Facebook and are connected to me on there. The thing is I am not there to keep an eye on them… it is just nice to keep in touch with them and keep up with them… see how youngsters do things nowadays, what they are into and so on. I am sometimes surprised by things that they write on FB from time to time, but hey, such is life and who am I to tell them to not be who they are?

“You’ve lost weight”

Thanks to the cousin who noticed and said this… although I now feel bad that I said the opposite to him. I hope he did not take it to heart…

“It’s interesting seeing your status updates on Twitter and Facebook. Last night I read that you were in New York and then the next thing I saw was that you were having dinner in Bristol… already! And sometimes when you mention you have been to this or that restaurant and then your friends comment and say they have been there too.”

“Never been to America and want to go. When we finally make plans to go we will ask you for tips on where to go, where to stay and where to eat.”

Mentioned by my cousin and his wife. Not sure how to respond to those comments except say “Thank you for your faith in me” for the last comment. 🙂

“Your glasses make you look… professional”

Well, what can I say?

It was a great get together… and as we headed into late afternoon it was time to make the long trek back home – over a week since I had seen the place.

The next day was a chance to see my cousin (the one who is technically my uncle) after a number of years. He had come over to the UK from Gurgaon, India for some work and he had some spare time. So we arranged to meet in London.. in Leicester Square… my suggestion. What a numpty! I had totally forgotten that it was the Sunday that was earmarked for Chinese New Year celebrations in the area we had arranged to meet! Roads were closed, traffic was diverted. Finally got to meet up and well, walking to the restaurant I had planned on going to proved very difficult… the crowds, having to stop for the fascinating lion dance that was taking place en-route and then when getting to the restaurant and noticing the queue for a table.

Chinese New Year 2011 (Year of the Rabbit) Celebrations in London Chinatown

Quick change of plan and into an Indian restaurant, thinking this would be something nice and different for my cousin as he mentioned that he found hardly any decent Indian restaurants in the UK… only to be told once we were seated that he had already been to that restaurant the weekend prior. Oops and Duh!

We decided to remain there. I think it was the right thing… the food there is good in my opinion, my cousin also liked it. It was good to catch up too. Even though I had seen him 3-4 years prior, it was a fleeting conversation. I had not spoken to him much since 1983 (wow.. nearly 20 years).. and in the interim years he had many life changing experiences, lived in different countries, worked for different organisations.

I am glad to have spent time with him because I learnt a lot more about him and understood him better in the few hours we spent together and the close bond was back. The thing that struck me was that even though the past 20 years had afforded us different opportunities, different countries and different situations, the resulting experiences and what we had learnt from them were strikingly similar! Does anyone have an answer as to why this is the case? Is it a ‘same generation’ type of thing?

Hmmm… I’ve just realised this has been an ultra long posting… I’ve written all I’ve wanted to write and my body, my body clock and the actual time prods me to head to bed. So I bid thee farewell and hope that you enjoy reading this posting as much as I enjoyed pouring my heart into it.

Good night, Shubh Ratri, Shabba Khair, Spakoina Noche, Kali Nikhta, Guten Nacht, Boa Noite.

My love to all…