I had to take the lead and I did. I rang the bell.
Neerja, my management school classmate opened the door and had this surprised look on her face.
“How did you know where I live?”
“Here is your management accounting book.”
“Ok. Thanks. Bye”
And the door closed. Not exactly how I had envisioned my first visit to the prospective in-laws place.
Thankfully, my prospective Mother-In-Law (MIL) was sipping tea in the lawn and much to Neerja’s surprise asked her to bring me back in. She turned out to be my Amitach Bachchan’s Nirupa Roy, Shahrukh Khan’s Farida Jalal and Hritik Roshan’s Jaya Bachchan.
These early interactions with my prospective In-Laws helped me develop new insights into karma, commitment, wordplay and luck.
First Conversation With Prospective MIL
“How is the hostel food?”
“It is really bad, Aunty”
“Have some lunch before you go”
“Oh no Aunty, that would be too much work for you”
“Don’t worry and finish this thaali. How is the daal?”
“Just amazing. Never had this type of daal before. Even my Mother can not make it so good”
“How is the kheer?”
“Just amazing. Never had this type of kheer before. Even my Mother can not make it so good”
“Just come here whenever you want to eat. You must take care of your health”
Neerja, who was ignored in all this lullaby, stood in amazement with wide eyes as Yashoda found her Kanhaiya.
Moral of the story: If you find a place in the kitchen, you are now a member of the household. Work on the Mother more than anyone else. Blessings matter.
First Conversation with Prospective Father-in-Law (FIL)
The first time my prospective FIL looked at me, he actually looked through me. For a moment I thought he was a param Yogi and could read people inside out. Then my 21-year-old brain registered the fact that he was ignoring me.
“Sir, how did you think about getting a PhD in Physics?”
“And it must have been such an experience to study in the US at that time?”
Moral of the story: You should pursue your goal even when you are ignored. The greatness of individuals is realized only later.
First Conversation with Prospective Sister-in-Law (SIL)
My prospective SIL was just glad to find someone who would listen to her blabbering without interrupting and with a steady smile.
“…and then I like told Kriti that she is like completely lost and like she needs to think about the latest fashion in a Marxist philosophy which is like completely urbane to the likes to world health organization and ya’know Raju would become gentlemen in like..”
“That’s amazing. You are so right”
“…and jeez like whattsup with these dudes who like trash the likes of Greenpeace who are trying to orthogonal array the GDP into amalgam of hopeless synopsis of like unlimited waste of Ganges and like turn the century of like Vasco da Gama ya’know..”
“That’s amazing. You are so right”
Moral of the story: Distractions are part of the journey. The universe wants to know if you are committed to your goal.
After balancing my studies, my prospective-in-laws, a surprised Neerja and even more surprised, my own parents, I realized I had elevated myself on my spiritual journey. The intense penance over 2-3 years helped me develop new qualities within myself.
Dispassion: I realized my prospective FIL would never fall in love with me and I let that go. With time he and I moved from “….” to “hmmm”, which was a great progress. I just focus on karma, the fruits can be bought from grocery store.
Love, Compassion, Empathy: My prospective MIL just flowered into this amazing cook of various cuisines that she should have never bothered about. As I became the guinea pig of her highly avoidable Mexican and Thai cooking, I never stopped saying “Just amazing. Never had this type of <fill in the blanks> before. Even my Mother can not make it so good”
Forbearance, Patience: Working through the verbal onslaught of my prospective SIL, I had a deep realization that we all are in this together. Some are just a bigger pain in the neck, bear it.
Post Script: I am planning to write a new NYT Bestseller soon “How Your In-Laws Help You in Self-Actualization, Actually”