At the same time this circus was on in my comments space here, NO thanks to Neihal, Sakshi, Aarti and the Smiling Girl, [Shek, I know you tried, I appreciate it] I was enjoying a different circus at home, the tgfi family circus. My folks arrived late friday night after making necessary and unnecessary stops to meet all and sundry on their drive from NJ to here. By then, I had cleaned up, hidden the alcohol, kissed the boyfriends goodbye and hid all their lavish gifts accumulated over the years, because of course, I could see my mom and sis poke around stuff and go "from where did you get this???" with more discussion and guess-work following that.
Saturday was the commencement ceremony and I took my parents for a grand tour of my lab before that. My mom, always the keen observer, came up with "this is your desk? everybody else's desk is so neat". and suchlike. Hmm. They got to meet the parasites and my advisor and other friends for a small party before the graduation ceremony, and then we went to the hall. The graduation robe and hood has got to be the funniest costume EVAR and it was almost surreal being a large room surrounded by people all wearing similar funny looking clothes and sweating away to glory, fanning themselves. Finally we were herded into the seating area, and were called up row-wise to the stage. Ever since I defended successfully and announced the good news, I've been told by various people how my hard work had finally borne fruit, how great it was, etc. etc. The speaker at our graduation ceremony was the first African American to graduate from my university in 1962. Listening to her speech and the travails she went through, the barriers she broke, was very inspiring and humbling. Soon it was my turn to go up- I think striding up the stage, getting hooded, shaking hands with the provost and walking off was my real moment of high. If it hadn't sunk in yet, it finally sunk in then. My family was in the stands, cheering on, and my niece also yelled "pinni!" (means maasi or aunt) as I walked past them. I am just relieved she wasn't traumatised from seeing me in that outfit. :-)
The next couple of days we spent exploring town- taking my family around to all my favourite places and hang-out joints (no, not the bars, there are other places I frequent) and showing them around was a lot of fun. My niece absolutely loved the outdoors and we had great weather. At home, we broke all noise rules and I was rather worried about my chinese neighbours' reaction- we were never on the friendliest terms, especially since I once went to their apartment and asked them to turn down the infernal pounding of meat at 2 am. Since then, they had called cold war on me. But my niece kavita won them over with her charm, as she sat outside my apartment on her little chair and yelled "Hi!!!!" everytime they passed by, never giving up until they smiled back and said "Hi". :-) My sister, parents and I were together as a family after more than 4 years- this was truly a treasured time for us. My sister and I realized that some things never changed, as we noticed our poor dad's reaction to our giggling fits, which were very much the way my poor b-i-l has reacted to them. It only instigated us further, as my dad looked on to little Kavita for support and company, totally not impressed with the display of juvenile behaviour by his grown-up daughters. :D. My mother's moment of trauma came when she discovered that I used a public laundry, shared by everyone in the building, and she never came to terms with that. :-)
Of course, nothing beats the trepidation with which they made the transition from my sis and b-i-l's nice car to basanti. As my mom sat in it and I started, she went "Oh my god,so much noise" and my sis snickered on. I had earlier shared the good news with them that I found a buyer for the car and was very happy. A few minutes into the ride my sis goes "So who is buying this car?". Very funny. As I had to drop my b-i-l off to the airport and cross across lanes on I-85 (ok, I made some rash last minute decisions) I heard an audible gasp from my dad. His BP shot up by a few notches after that car ride, as we found out when we went to get it monitored. :). My mother got out of the car and her only comment was "Akka drives nicely". My glare ensured that no more comments were passed and the drive back home was spent in silent prayers.
On the eve before they left for their drive back to NJ, I called a bunch of friends over and my mom made her world class sambaar, chutney and idlis. My sis made paneer pakodas. I was a Ph.D, so I just sat back and enjoyed :-). My friends, desis and non-desis alike lapped up the sambaar and totally enjoyed kavita's company. She got foot massages and chocolates and a ton of attention from all the twelve people in the room.
The apartment seems terribly empty now. I miss my little niece running to the door every fifteen minutes and yelling "bus!" everytime a bus passed by (My dad and I had the honor of taking her on her first bus ride ever and she enjoyed every bit of it), and all the hustle bustle that was going on. As soon as they left, I got folks to come in and buy off my furniture so the emptiness is more pronounced. But I still have tons to do in terms of packing and lab work, so I am going to be very busy all over again. I am really glad this trip happened. For me, it's the perfect exit from my little town, as I got to look around my favourite places for one last time and relive memories with the people most important to me. And yes, comments are enabled as long as you promise to behave! :-))))