lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Friday, May 30, 2008

Duty calls

It might not be as pronounced in the latest generation, but us older folk remember the ordeal of duty. If you arrive from another city, no matter how short your time, you are expected to hunt up the addresses and go visit relatives.

Even in the same city, you are expected to make duty visits; in Calcutta, these would be during Durga Puja, or New Year visits. If you are closer, clan-wise, you are expected to keep in touch.

Duty does tend to make us all somewhat mechanical, especially if we are making duty phone calls. Rote set of questions asked and routine answers expected.

The land line rang. K answered. It was a cousin who believed strongly in doing the right thing, which is calling twice a year, to keep in touch. She went through the rote set.

After the expected questions about The Matriarch and the Son and Heir (she gave the emphasis, okay?) the conversation went like this:

Cousin: tumi kay mone achcho? (How are you?)
K: bhaalo achchi. (I am well)
C: tomaar bou bhaalo? (Is your wife well?)
K: na (No)
C: achchha, rakhchchi. (Good, I will ring off now)

Dislike of cousins by marriage can get intense, I admit. But this takes the cake, pie, pudding and ice-cream too.



Blogger anantha said...

Relatives! The problem is, you don't get to pick and choose them. They come as a package. Have ta grin and bear, sometimes.

11:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch, that was nasty. Maybe she was playing a recording of the Duty Questions? While busying herself getting ready for the next Duty Call?
No wonder that today's kids, with their super-sensitive antennae for anything fake and hypocritical, refuse to do this any more. Even with the benefit of hindsight, "wisdom" and age, I have NO fond memories of those endless hours spent visiting far-flung relatives who lost interest in me once their initial curiosity had been satisfied. At least the calls could be done with quickly.

7:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) As Anantha says no other choice but to laugh it off xx

11:21 pm  
Blogger dipali said...

This takes the entire damn bakery! What is the point of such a call?
Once upon a time a cousin's wife escorted me for an ultrasonogram as she had some work in that part of town. After which she insisted on doing some shopping as well. I finally had to tell her that I'd been fasting since morning for the test, so I needed to go home and eat something. And after that she never even bothered to ask me what the test results were. Strange specimens abound. Bah.

3:01 pm  
Blogger మాలతి said...

Nice one. I know only too well. I am one of those at the receiving end :)

7:01 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Anantha- Yeah, the old but true thing, you can choose your friends, but you are stuck with your relations by birth or marriage.

Kamini- I rather think she wasn't paying any heed to the replies, just going through her rote 'things to say when you make a duty phone call' list. But I agree with you about the interminable social visits we had to endure where apart from chucking our cheeks and exclaiming how much we had grown there was no call for our presence at all. (It wasn't even as though these visits guaranteed there were children of our age to make friends with or play with.)

WA- Hey welcome back! I always take these calls in a philosophical fashion, anyway.

Dipali, Malathi- Tell me about it. Though I know her malice wasn't meant or directed clearly as such, she was only going through the motions of a polite phone call, it still rankles.

11:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well there is no :-))))) about it I realize now. sorry.


7:44 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Jillu Madrasi- Hey, no offense taken. I just didn't reply with another smiley because that would have had us grinning at each other ad infinitum... :-)

5:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:-))) | (((-:

mirroring each other across the oceans?

we have a common friend Chen.


2:51 am  

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