With nothing but budget-related tamasha all over, here is something that might help divert your mind away from this rubbish. Trust me! The budget as a rule is usually completely irrelevant for you and I.
Last week, at a Gujju community dinner, I ran into a colleague’s parents. While catching up with them, I remembered that they also had other children and I politely asked about them. They told me that two of their daughters were in the US. I jokingly remarked that they must be on “baby” duty and they said quite wearily “We’ve just come back after being there for four months”. I again joked, “It must be tough” and they said, “It just gets more and more difficult”.
I know my friends in the US are going to pan me for this!
For those who are still wondering what I am talking about!
When children (young adults) migrate to the US and have their own children, their parents from India keep making trips to the US to help them take care of the grandchildren. Typically, one mother goes for 4-6 months, then the other mother and the fathers usually take turns going for shorter periods.
Up to just five years ago, no parent doing “baby” duty for the child’s child would complain. In the tradition of our bhartiya sanskruti that makes sure that only those who fall at the feet of their elders are considered “good” people, parents doing baby duty were assumed to be the ultimate parents. It was always understood that this was a good thing for them, being able to travel to the US and spend time in that “wonderful” country…even if all of this meant a total disruption of their daily routines in India and the lives of those continuing to live in India.
But now, as with everything else that is changing in India, parents too are slowly cribbing. I spoke to a couple of them to understand what their issues were and this is what I was told!
They don’t like living in the suburbs, where most successful Indians tend to live. Suburban life without public transport makes the parents completely dependent on their children if they want to get anywhere. A week or two is fine…but more is torture. It’s much easier in cities like Chicago and New York with easily accessible trains, buses and cabs.
They don’t like leaving their social networks and friends and family and spending time away from their spouses. There is only so much television one can watch (even if Star and Zee and Sony are available)…waiting till the weekends to socialize doesn’t work.
While many parents are happy to be with their children for the first 2-3 months after delivery as a one-time trip, they don’t like being taken for granted for more such visits. Many mothers these days have their own lives and careers, which they are unwilling to put on extended hold, even for their own children.
Then there are smaller issues, like the bedrooms being on the first floor of big houses, with the kitchen on the ground floor, making it really difficult for those with back, knee and hip issues.
And the final words of advice! Some parents will always be more than happy to be with their children. Great! But quite a few may not want to do so, and will travel only because their children insist a lot or emotionally blackmail them. This is for those children…don’t force your parents! These days, the parents might actually turn around and say…”Sorry, No!”