Rishabh is 12 and his little cousin sister, Naina, is 6. From the moment I met them at their apartment next door to my parents, I sensed an instant affection from them. They kids affectionately call my parents dadu and dadi (grandparents), so by extention, I am bua (an aunt). Throughout the
time that I was their in their apartment for chai, they kept me engaged. Rishabh shared fun facts about USA with me, specifically Pennsylvania, where the international private school that he goes to had recently made a trip to with some senior students. “Did you that the word Pennsylvania is wrongly spelled with a single n in the U.S. Constitution?”, he would go. I actually didn’t know that, so I did learn something new. His little cousin who was visiting for the summer, took some time to warm up, but warm up she did. Next day we met them again for katha (a religious event) and our bond grew further. The kids constantly hung out with me as I often escaped to the air-conditioned room in the apartment. To my amazement Naina often referred to herself as motu (the Hindi word for fat, often used with affection) and her cousin, some version of patloo (meaning a thin person in Hindi). She complimented me several time with, “aap tou bahut acche lag rahe ho” (you’re looking very nice). She was sweetly rolling all over me and since my leg was hurting, I asked her to sit on my legs. She instantly obliged, knowing exactly how to plant herself in order to provide some relief to me. Apparently that was one of her role in the family- to provide massage. Rest of the afternoon, every time I escaped to the cool haven, she planted herself next to me, asking me to take a selfie :).To my surprise, the 12 year old after a while goes, “its my turn to sit next to bua, you have sat enough”. I was touched by the affection the two kids showered on me. And when I complimented Rishabh’s mom on her pretty saree, he goes, “mumma ke paas tou isse bhi achchi achchi sarees hai” (my mom has even better sarees than this). 🙂
Kids in India are extremely affectionate, and openly shower their affections as well. Reminded me of a conversation I once had with my friend’s daughter. I called my friend at her house, she wasn’t available, but her daughter left me speechless with this- “Aap Sonal aunty ho na? Aap Texas se aaye ho na? Aap mumma ke school ke friend ho aur hum logo aap se ek-do saal phele mile the jab aap India visit kar rahe the. I know you. Mein mumma ko bata doonge ke aap ne phone kiya tha.” (You are Sonal aunty, right? You’re from Texas, right? You’re mom’s school friend, and we had met you couple of years back when you were visiting India. I know you. I’ll tell mom that you had called). That’s how kids are in India- they shower you with affection, show a kind of eagerness and enthusiam. How is that different from kids in America? Well, our kids born and raised in America are like miniature adults really. They feel the love, care and affection, but don’t display it as easily. Nothing wrong with that either. Just different:)
“Our kids born and raised in America are like miniature adults really”
Some of the people here in India wondered what I mean by the statement “our kids born and raised in America are like miniature adults really”. To explain, let me give an example. My daughter was a little over three during one of her early visits to India. An uncle of mine immediately lifted her off her feet when he first saw her.
She quietly stayed in his arms for quite some time as he talked to everyone around the room. Seeing a pause in the conversation, she politely tells him, “Excuse me, could you please put me down now?”. You can well imagine the look of flabbergast on my uncle’s face. As for my daughter, she later often described that in India you say ‘hello’ to kids by taking them godi (lifting in arms) :). And that is what I mean when I say kids of all age are little adults in USA. Not to say, one is better than other, again- just different :).