Bringing Up Babies
Me, Ajay, writing again. What is all this debate, I say, about bringing up kids in this country vs bringing them in India ? What is the big difference yaar ? Take case study, my son, Munna for example. If he grows up here, we will put Pamper diaper and dispose it in landfill. If he grows up in India, we will put loincloth. Here we don't have nannies or ayahs. Only my wife Malini Ammal and that grouchy old lady. (I forget Malini's mom's name) In this country, I am very scared of leaving my dear Munna with the babyshitters because a lot of them self-immolestate children, although I confess, whenever my father in law carries Munna around, he is probably introducing all kinds of weird, traumatic, psychological complexes in the poor child.
When Munna grows into a fine two year old, we will have a Christhmas tree, with ornaments. He will sit on Shanta Claus's lap and we will have Sear's take photographs. We will send one one to each of our relatives in India. If he grows up in India, we will buy him a bow and an arrow. Yaar, when Munna become three or four, we send him to pre-school and develop his left brain. If he is in India, we would have sent him first standard. Here, we will give him IQ tests and then send him to a special school even when he is only four. If he grow up in India, we send him to Agarwal IIT class at that age. What is the difference yaar.
When Munna five or six year old, he ask us here, 'Mommy mommy, why are you having this little dot on your forehead and why does pappa wear lungis at home'. I give Munna a big kiss and teach him about our Hindu philosophy and the airiness of lungis under non-turbulent air flow. If on other hand, Munna is in India, he won't ask those ridiculous questions.
When Munna is about five year precocious old, he will want coke all the time and when we drive and he see yellow arch, Munna say 'McDonalds, Mommy, Daddy McDonalds'. Then we stop car and buy French fries. What we can do in India, yaar. No McDonald's in Peddapuram. So we go buy dosas and parathas. Still Munna get the same protein.
When Munna seven or eight Munna want to play games. If we are here, in the same Gurgaonville, we keep wondering 'Shall we, mommy and daddy, buy non-sexist toys or say, chuck it, and buy GI Joes' Munna may ask us, why did god make me brown skinned when all my friends are white and I won't go to school. Very fine dilemma I say. Kids grow up intelligently, yaar. We tell him, brown is beautiful. In India, the same Munna will ask 'Mommy, daddy, why did god make me brown skinned instead of wheatish complexion'. I told you, the same dilemma, even in India. India has one advantage yaar. When Munna begin to ask too many questions or act too smart like children in movie, me or Malini Ammal can give one very fine slap. Here we are worried about child abuse.
When Munna become a fine eleven year old, Munna learning everything fast. He will want to sit in front of the TV and watch football, baseball, cartoon pictures and not do homework. This is number one problem in this country, yaar. In India, no problem. I will have a private tutor who will do the child's homework for him.
Then one day right in front of our eyes, Munna become a fine teenager. Then Munna go to junior high and he will want to be in the 'chic crowd'. He will want to do drugs. This is major problem yaar. Even his being embarrassed to be seen with us, Indian parents, is nothing, machi. I have no plan except to say 'Just say no to drugs'. He might say 'Just say no to Nancy Reagan' and go on. In India there are no drugs are. Good place to bring up kids. And yaar, here, he may be sexually curious. What with all this AIDS ka chakkar. I don't know yaar. How we will control Munna's libido. In India, it is better. We will put him in an all-male college and he will grow up with healthy celebacy and very fine attitude toward female chicks like I have.
Then Munna will be called ABCD if he is here. It is shame yaar, that we use such acronysm. In India nobody will call him that. Yes, sure, he may be called PJ or something obscene. But that is still better. Imagine, a nice name like Munna Palvayanteeswaran being corrupted into all kinds of names. Of course, when he gets married he will change his last name to his wife's family name. Wouldn't you yaar ? And yes, yaar, question of marriage. Munna will date left, right and center and will be hit with girls of both sexes, just like his daddy who was damn successful with females even in IIT times. But marriage is an Indian tradition yaar. What we as parents can do ? Most Americi women don't even have horoscopes to match and they divorce even before they get married. We very worried. But Munna in India will have arranged marriage with a rich man's daughter and produce little baby Munnas every year. The daughter in law don't dare divorce or I will kill her father. But Munna will have to deal with Indian corruption, poverty and Madhuri Dixit movies.
As we are putting Munna to his baby sleep, wrapping him gently in onion-like layers of diapers and clothes, we watch his pretty face light up in smile, as if Munna reading PJs. I sing little lullaby song of Gita Dutt. But questions loom large, yaar. Munna grow up here in Yanki culture or Munna return home with us to India in the desi culture ? Very big question, but no answer. Only SCI and god help Munna, his mommy and daddy, yaar. Many thanks.