If my fairy godmother were to appear before me and offer me a return ticket to USA, I would politely thank her for her generosity and decline to accept it. Not because I’m one of those travel weary globe trotters wanting a peaceful retired life-not at all.
In fact, I’m one of the very few who don’t like going broad. My aversion to a US trip is born out of mine and others experience. Let me tell you what happened to my cousin Indu.Indu was fascinated by America ever since our uncle brought us some Wrigley’s from there. A country which can make a chewing gum like that has to be great was Indu’s argument. Her sole ambition was to set foot on the Wrigley land. She was even prepared to marry a dhobhi from America to get there. I did not have the heart to ask her id there were dhobhis in America and why would he come to India to seek a bride.
Anyway, Indu’s dream came true, except that she had to settle for an engineer instead. The engineer jetted back to USA and Indu started getting ready to join him. But she hadn’t bargained for the jostling crowds at the passport office and the gruelling questions at the consulate. It took six months for both countries to decide she was an innocuous person with a respectable earning man, prepared to call her his wife, before giving her the green signal. But there was more to come. Her husband’s ‘maasi’ wanted her to carry a kilo of dried green chillies stuffed with curd and masala, for her son in Louisiana; her husband’s jethani handed over a packet of ‘Bakharwadi’ for her brother in New Jersey; her mother-in-law’s ‘nanand’ dumped a two kilo gunny bag of Kashmiri Rajma to be passed on to her childhood friend in Denver; Mrs.Iyer, the next door neighbour for three decades, begged her to take some ‘sambhar’ powder, a packet of instant ‘idli’ mix and a few papads for her granddaughter in Buffalo; Mrs Shetty couldn’t be refused .After all , she had changed Indu’s nappies so often-she only wanted to send a small packet of ‘Shikkai’ powder for her daughter in Washington as she hated shampoos.
By the time Indu got all these packed, her suitcase smelt like a looted department store. With a philosophical air, she accepted this. You can’t go to Heaven without doing a couple of good deeds, was her argument. Then came the time for her departure. At the Bangalore airport, the security check was particularly rigid and they opened up the carefully packed ‘bakharwadi’ and stuffed chilli packets. The poor girl stoically bore the inspection.
At the International airport in Bombay, the handle of her suitcase snapped and she found a gaping hole in her bag from where some nimble fingered guy had filched the hundred bucks meant for airport tax. The flight being at such an unearthly hour, her friends and relatives .wished her bon voyage on the telephone before she left home. When she reached Kennedy airport, I believe, she fell into her husband’s arms and wept, vowing never to travel to USA. It took him quite a time to convince her that she had arrived!
My aunt just called to ask me if I know anyone going to USA so that she can send some mango pickles to Indu. .Even if they are all available in Indian Stores, nothing like goodies from mera Bharat mahan!!