Generation Gap

by Ramesh Mahadevan

Ring. Ring. RRRRING. "Haalloo"

"Hello, is Ramish Mad-Haven there please?"

"No, he has been dead for three years now, this is his ghost"


"That's just a joke. This is me. What can I do you for today ?"

"My name is Aarty and calling from the Indian Students Association. I see that you are a member and you have paid the dues too ..."

"Oh, don't mention it. That was one of my weakest moments. But, I really liked the way you ABCDs er .. second generation Americans pulled off the coup during the last meeting and took over the leadership. I mean it is remarkable that you would be interested in Indian associations considering how Americanized you are"

"Well, thanks. You see when I came here in October from Delaware I didn't know we had such associations. It would have been a lot of help for us kids who were straight out of high school."

"Well, you are speaking to an ex-office bearer. I had singlehandedly done a lot of stuff for the darned thing. I had put up new students. I wrote some parts of the constitution. Then we passed on the torch to the next committee. You know the organization was defunct the last couple of years. It was a pity, but the stupid president never did a thing. I can't be running the association year after year, you see. But I cherish my days with the association. Oh, yes, I had organized a city-wide Anthakshari contest. Indians from other colleges like U. Pitt also came. Do you know there are about half a dozen small colleges around Pittsburgh and they all have Indians ? Boy, there were so many women. Do you know there's an all female college in town ? Something like Avadh. Have you been to Lucknow ?"

"No, my ancestors are from Delhi. What is anthakshari anyways ? Well, actually the reason I called you is to get you interested in some cultural activities. We are thinking of having a party this weekend, DJ and dancing and so forth"

"But, what has that got to do with India ?"

"You are missing the point. The association is meant for all kinds of activities. Although we kids are all Americans, we have similar backgrounds. Our mothers wear saris and we still eat Indian food. The association is a nice place to meet other kids."

"Wow, it is wonderful that you are going around looking for your roots. You know something, this phenomenon of second generation Americans actively participating in the Indian associations is happening all over, in several universities. Some sociologist ought to study this. There is a definite Ph. D in this."

"Yes, we are proud of our heritage. See, we also want to have a big cultural event for Holi. Can you do any cultural thing, you know what I mean ?"

"Let me see. I used to ooze culture. There was a time I organized a bharatnatyam dance. That was before she quit and joined a roller-derby team."

"Can you sing ?"

"Are you serious ? I can't even sing Ba Ba Black sheep. Have you ever listened to Indian music ?"

"A little. My dad always listens to it. But I can't dig it. You know the sitar stuff. I can't even tell if he is tuning the instrument or playing music. I like hindi songs. They are kind of neat. What's it, Lata Mongshaker ?"

"You ought to listen to more, stuff like Bappi Lahiri. You'll really like it. What else are you going to have ?"

"We are going to have skits and ..."

"You said skits ? I do some writing too. Do you read Soc.Culture.Indian bboard. I post my articles there all the time. I can help you on that."

"But we want light, funny skits, you know the kind that people will enjoy"

"Bingo ! You want funny ? You needn't look any further. Actually, I try to write funny stuff and some people even told me that my articles kind of amused them. I am the man you are looking for".

"You don't understand. We have a kid called Veekas working on the skits already"

"Let me tell you a secret Aarti, I usually don't divulge my pet ideas to people. But I will make an exception in your case. Your best bet will be to write a parody of a popular TV show. You can even introduce some mock commericals, like the 'Bo knows Kabbadi' type. You know something. I have always been interested in dabbling in performing arts. I had even done a skit when I was an undergrad in my hostel. But unfortunately, it was about my warden and they asked me to leave the stage after two minutes. By the way, did I tell you I am going to buy a camcorder. Right after that I plan to visit my uncle. He has two kids who always keep doing silly things and I plan to videotape them and send it to the America' funniest home video. Aarti, do you know that there are eight times as many Americans with camcorders as there are with AIDS virus. What am I talking. You are a mere child, I mean, woman-child."

"See, Veekas already has an idea on a skit - about a guy whose personality transforms into a computer when he is under stress. By the way, if you have an idea for skits, feel free to write one. The Association is for all members, irregardless of what they are studying and it would be lovely if graduate students can put up a skit too."

"No Aarti, graduate students don't have that itch. They are all dorks. It will be fun to be working with young women like you."

"Why don't we discuss these in our general body meeting this thursday. Oh yes, we need a lot of volunteers to do backstage stuff. I see you are in double E. Do you know amplifiers and stuff, I mean, like, setting up the mikes and things"

"Do I know amplifiers ? I mean, does Jack the Ripper know to kill ? Sure thing, Aarti. Setting up mikes has always been my pet hobby. Have you decided about the food ?"

"I was going to ask you about it myself. Do you know what they have in India typically for Holi dinner ?"

"Lets see. They have Chicken Makhni, Mattar Paneer and I think they also have Kofta curry. Say, all this talk about food has made me quite hungry. You sound like you are a very pretty girl, so how about lets discussing these things over lunch at the Ali Baba's restaurant"

"I can't. I have this big Calculus test on monday. Can you make any of these food"

"Let me see. One time I cooked about seven pots of rice for the Indian association function. I have actually nurtured the association. Jeez, I feel nostalgic. But I don't think I will cook this time. If you want, I can make some nice Pepsi"

"No, that's not fair. See we undergrads don't have cooking facilities and we are going to get the soft drinks. By the way, do you have a car ?"

"Yes, kind of, but ..."

"Great. You are exactly who we need. You must come to our organizational meeting. It has been nice talking to you. We need the cooperation of people like you. I will put your name under transportation. Now I really have to go. I have tons more people to call. Thanks for all your help. Bye."

Copyright(R) Mahadevan Ramesh