When siblings, cousins, nieces, and significant others from Patna, London, Swansea, and Great Falls gathered in North London, we couldn’t stop hugging!
Time with family is even more precious after the pandemic. Two years of separation - in some cases even longer - was enough reason for renting a car, driving on the wrong side, narrowly missing curbs, looking the wrong way at roundabouts, forcing near-death experience on the navigator, and stumbling our way from Gatwick to the reunion venue 90-minutes away in Southgate.
Once we got there, the ale and fizz were just what we needed!
My side of the family is very small. Two brothers - my dad and uncle - had two children each. The next generations have none to two kids in each branch. Fifteen of us gathered in Southgate for unadulterated fun. We missed three nephews and their better halves, little Mina, and my Mother.
As we lunched on the back deck of my cousin’s home on a sunny but chilly London day, I took stock of what makes us tick because we couldn’t be a more eclectic bunch.
We are organizers and bohemians and a whole lot of shortness.
We are K-12 teachers, university professors, doctors, musicians, grant giver, procurement specialist, psychologist, retirees, engineer, communications specialist, consultants, technologists, and a human rights advocate.
We are a mix of gym junkies and foodies. We are vegans, vegetarians and non-vegetarians. There’s even a stray sibling who is strictly non-vegetarian and pales at the sight of vegetables.
We are world travelers who cannot stay put. We are mostly dog lovers willing to forgive canine transgressions. We can cook up a storm on a moment’s notice reflecting the ways we have adopted and adapted to global culinary cues.
We drink like fish and walk like Forrest Gump. There's even one who takes the bus to drink like a fish.
We rib each other on our accents and language. Buh-er and norf tickle me as I make the leap from butter and north. After I briefly misplaced and found my eyeglasses, the Londoners forced me to watch a YouTube video on Americanisms. Glasses don’t go anywhere other than on our eyes so the redundancy of "eyeglasses" makes them roll on the floor laughing. Clearly, some of us are bullies and yours truly is a moron.
We are recovering from major illness and have chronic conditions. Almost everyone has had Covid. The elder joints are creaking and one ticker has been re-plumbed with potentially more candidates in the wings.
Despite the troubles, there is a heaping dose of humor.
From English witticism to Indian sensibility to American irreverence, we cover all bases at the speed of light. My brother and I and my uncle’s son and daughter and our spouses are the inter-generational glues; the rest we call the "riffraffs".
We couldn’t collectively resolve our reverence for the Queen and questions about why the monarchy still exists. We have anxiety about the dire economic conditions across the globe. Some are on fixed income which heightens familial concern. On our last night together we talked about the future of work since the pandemic has permanently altered our tolerance for commuting. The reunion made it clear that the next generation, regardless of their coordinates, is simply not going to be goaded into a full week in the office unless their profession demands it.
Yes, we have our share of sensitivities that often manifest in the myriad of ways we deal with life and with each other. Despite the differences, the things that bind us outnumber those that don’t.
As we scattered in the winds, I was grateful for the togetherness, the courage to drive, the thoughtfulness, and the chance to give and receive affection that only the riffraffs deserve and deliver. Being an elder among this crazy lot means many more cheerful days are surely in the hopper. That warm thought will keep me going until we meet again.
Cheers to the nonSENsibles!