My mamaji has been in the States for about as long as I've been around. He's been to India a few times since then, including last month when he flew down for our wedding, but I've never met my mamiji or their kids, except my sister Kiran who visited India last summer. Her mom and two brothers always existed only in a virtual world for me. So it was quite an experience for me, driving down to their place for a short visit. It was not too long a drive, but I guess it was a little tiring for Jatin since he decided to drive down himself, and we did get delayed by about an hour because of some trouble with the GPS. But when we got there, it was all worth it. Allentown is a lovely place, just as beautiful as Boston suburbs, only with bigger houses and bigger lawns, and a more peaceful and vast countryside. Apparently they have all kinds of wildlife there, from groundhogs to deer to foxes. They have three pets of their own - Maggie and Poncho, their two German Shepherds, and their cat, Muffin. The two dogs are pretty large, and scary to some people (including Jatin) at first. He told me to enter the house first and make sure the dogs were well out of the way before he came in. I told him not to worry, because if the dogs didn't scare my dad when he was there a couple of years ago, they wouldn't scare him either. My dad is really terrified of dogs. All dogs. Jatin likes regular sized dogs, but is scared of the super sized ones.
They have a huge yard where they grow just about everything, from tomatoes to raspberries to mint to cherries. There's also a little fish pond with goldfish and water lilies. And the view of the countryside is just lovely.
The family is extremely warm. My youngest cousin, Ajay, has the same interests and the same weird sense of humor as my my brother Nikhil. And Kiran is especially sweet and friendly.
As it happens, my mamaji is an excellent chef. He made some dal which was just like what my mom makes. He grilled some lamb and chicken in an outdoor grill which was also great. Apparently all three kids like stuff like palak paneer (I'm not too fond of that, you know) and dal roti (which I also like). I felt quite at home with family pretty quickly, as did Jatin. It's a pity the trip was that short, because we had to leave for Philadelphia the next morning, since we had to attend my brother-in-law's graduation ceremony in the afternoon. But the good thing is that now we're that close to this part of the family, and can visit them often.
At our reception, when I was feeling a little emotional all over again, my mamaji told me to look at it this way - "You're losing your mom and dad, but you're getting us. That's not a bad deal at all. I would take that deal any day" It isn't. It certainly isn't.