A trip to Gujarat – Part III (Lessons learnt from a Gujarati family)

By | February 17, 2008

Sitting on the floor on Nik’s home with his family a day before his wedding, I wonder what is it that actually keeps such a big family together. The one immediate clarification I need to make here is that Nik’s family is not a joint family, where all members are staying in the same large house. The family is very much scattered, with relatives living all over Gujarat, Mumbai & some even abroad. With this diversely located family, I was amazed when I heard that the family always came together for important occasions.

So I caught up with Nik’s mama(maternal uncle), and got him talking about his family. How were they managing to stay together so close, even though they were physically living at far off places. All right, so we have mobiles & the internet that shrinks distances, but then everyone is busy with their lives these days. The pace of life is so overwhelming that we hardly have time to catch up with ourselves, let alone family. So how do they do it?

The answer was simple. Planning. Nik’s mama told me all their family events were planned well in advance, and everyone is informed so that they can make sure they are attending. Usually dates of weddings are decided, and then relatives are informed by the wedding cards that usually get dispatched in due course. But this is serious evolution in the way traditional family gatherings like weddings are planed. Taking care of relatives in this way, by giving equal importance to their time certainly increases the chances of relatives making it comfortably to the wedding. But then, there is something else.

Something that is a long lost commodity in our relations with people we call family. Before i reveal what something is, I need to ask, when is the last time you went to family function just because you really wanted to & not out of a feeling of obligation to your family? What we have lost, and what I really noticed sitting on that cold marble floor, is the amount of love that Nik’s relatives had. It is something which Nik’s mama wasn’t able to directly pin-point, and it struck me later that this was so implicit to this family that they just knew something was there. And it was really visible in all those songs they were singing, and in all their interaction that I just seemed to notice.

I tend to ask out loud, do we really love our family & relatives? Have our lives really become so fast paced that the relations we valued once are starting to fade out? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then we need a serious re-think of the direction our lives have taken.

This concludes my 3 part post on a trip I took down to Gujarat. Though it was a quick trip, I did meet a lot of great people, had some amazing Gujarati food, both for the stomach & for thought, and danced at my best friend’s wedding. What more can one ask for from a trip?

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