12-Nov-2007

Three Year Olds to the rescue

Traditional Colleague had called us for a golu to her house. This is a function during Navaratri/Dushera where people pull out dolls from their showcase, set up a few shelves in the middle of the dining room and with great grandiose put these dolls on display. After that, they call various people home to admire the handiwork and ply them with food and gifts. Sounds like a good deal, ha? Couples of minutes of muttering how wonderful the display is (which I have seen only all the four times I visited your house) and you are set for a yummy snack plus freebie. Unfortunately, there is a catch. Tradition dictates that visiting guests sing for their supper. Literally. Once the two minutes of muttering is done and everyone is settled, the host innocuously brings up the topic ‘so who is going to sing now?’ in a smooth silken voice. The obliging guests promptly break into Carnatic Kirtanas worthy of Thygaraja Bhagavathar and everyone is happy.

I had dropped into Traditional Colleague’s house with a uniquely untalented bunch. All three of us recoiled from the suggestion we sing. Infact, our hostess was also not expecting a stand out December Kutcheri season performance from any of us. The question had been rather half hearted. The ice was broken when my Male Colleague, his wife and their Three Year Old son made their appearance. Kids have a way of making heads turn the minute they appear in a room (drat. I wish I knew how). Two minutes of polite oohs and aahs happened. Then the dreaded question was asked.

When you see frayed and nervous parents of three year olds waiting for the next disaster to happen, you never realise they could also have positive aspects to their life. For instance the non-kid guests refuse to sing and feel guilty about it as they consume the food on offer. The parents of three year olds merely get their child as a stand in. The Three Year Old was coaxed and finally prodded into giving an operatic performance of nursery rhymes. All of us enthusiastically recited the first few lines of ‘Johnny Johnny Yes Papa’ to get him going. Kid smiled shyly and with the wisdom of kids on display, took his time going about the task in a cutesy manner. Eventually after he mumbled a few lines (which his parents obligingly translated for us), he noticed the next visitor to the house and loudly said ‘Hello Mami’

The new visitor was also the Youngest Colleague in the group. She was not particularly thrilled on being called Mami (Aunty) when she realised the rest of us had been called Akka (Sister). One look at her face and you knew she was not going to sing for joy for a while. Traditional Colleague gave up all hopes of further singing and served us cola. Then we all watched Three Year Old bounce up and down the floor for no good reason (I have since seen other kids do this and have realised it is perfectly normal behaviour and not indicative of potential violence). Singing was all but forgotten.

Three Year Old suddenly broke out with a cry ‘Amma. Fan!!!’. He had just noticed the ceiling fan, which had been turned off as the oil lamps in the room were lit. Turned out he was a major fan of fans (notice pun) and could spend endless hours staring at them. Exhaust fans were his specialty. Traditional Colleague promptly swooped him up and took him to the kitchen to show the exhaust fans. The rest of us relaxed a bit and began chatting about this and that. Eventually, when Three Year Old’s interest in the fan waned (or rather his parents decided more than fifteen minutes of fan gazing was probably not healthy for a kid), all of us dispersed with our goodie bags.

Next time I am paying social calls of the traditional kind, I am going to ensure atleast one kid accompanies me.

No comments: