It’s been said that we have two types of family: the family we are born into and the family we choose.
I’m lately of the mind that there might be another, although some may classify this a a type of family that we choose. There is, it seems to me, the family you grow into. It begins with your best childhood friends, whose parents and siblings you take as your own. And the circle grows into cousins who become yours and whose friends enter the orbits of our lives.
We celebrate special occasions together. Their wins become ours and their losses crush us in our hearts.
One of my friends once informed me that Indians refer to everybody to whom they bear a closeness as a cousin, whether or not they are related by blood. Another Indian friend has basically confirmed this.
Today Ramesh deposited me at the airport, completing the last of his drives for me, so that he can finally return to his home. A few days ago, his daughter wasn’t well, but he minimized it. I have asked after her and he has reported that she is fine, but I wonder if he would say anything otherwise. I am happy to get him back to his family.
I flew from Jaipur to Bangalore where another driver met me and took me home to Roopa’s nephew’s apartment. Roopa is mother to two of my best friends from childhood.
Along the way I noted that Bangalore feels very different from Delhi. It is much more modern, and I have read that it is growing exponentially, with big sparkling glass towers, its rapid expansion fed by a bourgeoning tech industry. I have also heard that infrastructure is struggling at times to keep up. But it is amazing.
In Bangalore, I met my Indian cousins. When you meet your Indian cousins, the experience isn’t unlike that of meeting your Sicilian cousins: they feed you. In fact, they feed you an obscene amount of food, including mutton stew, pork curry, beef curry, yam, beans, rice, gulab jamun, and fruit. And it was all delicious.
Including this custard apple, which was entirely new to me, its creamy interior marked by large seeds.
After lunch, Roopa and Prema (for lack of a better word, Roopa’s cousin, although that’s not nearly right) headed back to the airport. Our destination for the night is not Bangalore – this only gave me a chance to meet some of my Indian cousins (and coordinate our schedules).
My second flight for the day carried me to the southeast, into the heart of the state of Kerala, Cochin, where Roopa’s brother lives his wife. This is where I will spend the next few days: In Kerala with my Indian family.