I went to visit my family in Chennai a couple years ago, December 2013, and this is what it was like..almost exactly. As I plan a trip for next year, I have no doubt it will be ten times more exaggerated than this one (now that I’m 25 and over the hill and all).
Day 1: I fall miserably sick (because no trip to India is complete without illness). It is 71 degrees and lovely weather in Chennai and literally everyone is wearing earmuffs because it’s “so cold.”
Day 2: We shop like there ain’t no tomorrow, and argue with the tailor like it’s 1895.
Day 3: Grandma informs me that the astrologer said I would get married by the end of 2013. I have 5 more days until the prophecy is fulfilled and I am still terribly single. My heart is heavy. I must trust that fate will have its way…somehow.
Day 4: By this time we have attended approximately 4 million Carnatic (South Indian classical) music concerts, where the entire audience consists of our acquaintances from the Bay Area. The canteen food is to die for – idlis, dosas, parathas, tharatipal (a condensed milk sweet – hello, lactose intolerance, we meet again). PS, no husbands to be found at these concerts; average age, 65.
Days 5-8: Attend religious function at ashram. Hang out with cows. Contemplate how religious rituals provide structure for individuals to constantly remember the divine while going about their daily mundane tasks, and notice the problematic caste and gender politics (especially the heteronormative family lifestyle that religion endorses as well as the physical and ritualistic barriers between men and women). However, the food is once again, to die for. Sad to say, no husband to be found among the cows. Priests not proving to be husband material either.
Day 9-10: Meet up with 1882589 family members. Get eyebrows done (I’ve been looking forward to this shit all year). It is the New Year and I somehow didn’t find a husband in this past week. My heart fills with…relief? I am unmoored from Fate’s restrictions and am bound only by my free will! My mother informs me, however, that you must give astrological predictions a standard deviation of some sort. The astrologer no doubt meant that “she will actually get married by the end of 2013 or maybe 2023.”
Day 11: I have arrived home after the 30-hour journey, full of crying children and “Hindu Veg” meals (PS, I start pondering a deep question… does anyone else who gets Indian vegetarian food on international flights notice that they don’t give us dessert? All the meat eaters get these cute little cakes and Haagen Dazs ice cream cartons and we get cantaloupe that tastes like plastic. Since when are Hindus healthy? I haven’t exercised in 14 days and I think I ate like half a fruit the whole time.).
Day 12: Everyone at work is asking me why I haven’t brought back a husband. Shut up! If I’d just had 1 more day it would have happened. Also they wouldn’t have let him through customs.