Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In Defence of the Animal called Family (not that it needs me to defend it)

It's the middle of the post-holiday workweek, and it's the perfect time to look back on the amazing three weeks I've come back from, three weeks of a very people-filled existence across four cities. The joys of a location agnostic job became very obvious during this holiday season - I worked from Goa (not at all funny and not all original to say that 'working from Goa' is a misnomer) through the middle of December and spent the end-of-December-start-of-January in Chandigarh, Amritsar and Delhi being the giddy couch potato that I excel at, all the while surrounded by various members of my loving and lovely family.

All my family holidays in recent years have been 3-5 day affairs, and all of them have been amazing. This December was especially memorable not just because it was three weeks of uninterrupted family time, not even because it may have been the first time in our lives that my brother and I did not get into fights and name-calling, but because I had some amazing epiphanies about the value of this animal called family, which I will now proceed to try and summarize:

It's a little bit of everything. I think I've cracked the code of why joint families work. Sort of. When you live with one person, the apple of your eye that he is, there's so much pressure on him to be entertaining, generous, available, wise and crazy, every single day. When you live, on the other hand, with a large bunch of people, that pressure gets distributed. The fact that this animal is made of some utterly unique components makes for so much entertainment all around. There's a dad who cracks dad jokes like no other, there's a mom who is so generous with her time and hugs and kisses, there's an aunt who is funny and kind, there are cousins who have turned sarcastic one-liners into a fine art, there's a brother who introduces you to five new gadgets a day. I feel like I grew at least a thousand new brain cells this vacation.

They keep you humble. Every once in a while, you'll do something half decent at work, and colleagues will praise you to the skies - "No one negotiates as hard and as charmingly like you do, Manjot!" And just when you're starting to bask and grow a permanent smirk, you will see two family members almost crack a rib, laughing at that unnecessarily long-winded and utterly embarrassing story that your mom loves to tell about you, a story that involves watermelons and bed-wetting at a shockingly grown up age.

They make you feel like you're cat's whiskers. The point above notwithstanding, the same above-mentioned mom can make you sound like Einstein and Edmund Hillary rolled into one when describing childhood feats of intelligence and bravery. And nothing beats overhearing your father bragging about your career to his buddies.

There's always someone crazier than you. Want to go for a dip in the sea at 2 AM? I have a cousin who will be up and throwing swimming shorts on before you've finished thinking that thought. There's always someone who has done and dusted through all the crazy ideas that you might come up with - changed careers for the nth time, driven five hours to a hill town for lunch just because they felt like it, started two businesses before 30, decided to become vegetarian at age 10, traveled through 8 cities in 10 days because they had '10 days to kill between two vacations' (this last is my retired parents), and so on.

So, yeah, my holidays were awesome.

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