Posts Tagged ‘delhi’

The NRI Effect

December 6, 2012

Growing up in a typical North Indian middle class joint family in Delhi’s Karol Baug; I, along with the rest of my extended family, was always in awe of Kake Uncle and Rita Aunty. Why? Not because they owned the biggest shop in the market, but because they went to Canada and settled there. The very first from our entire clan of Khannas of Karol Baug! They were the cool ones, the ambitious ones, the stars of our family. The chosen ones who would bring fame and fortune to the Khanna name, that too in global terms.

Such was their celebrity status that once a year when they visited India there would be a fight among the Khannas’ six houses to host them. Each section of the family would have bitter battles over whom Kake & Rita will be staying with. Each family went out of their way to ‘spruce’ up their respective homes to bring it to a standard that each family ‘thought’ would meet the now international lifestyle that Kake & Rita were accustomed to. From new bath linens to a special TV in the guest room with the channel ‘Star TV’; Lux soap instead of Hamaam; it was all there. And the food… Hasleen, Dolly, Simran, all these aunties would use different food-tactics to woo the foreign-returned celebrities. One would go the ‘you’ve missed home food rajma-chawl’ route, while another would go the ‘pasta in white sauce’ route since that’s what Kake & Rita were presumably used to now.

It was really funny. But somewhere, it also engrained a very fierce zeal to also aspire to this NRI status. The rest as they say, is history. I have been living and working in the UK now for over six years; having followed in the dream footsteps of Kake & Rita; and I made it too! I am living the ‘high life’, at least according to the Khanna family of Karol Baug. In terms of treatment back home, Rita & Kake have been replaced. I am now the star of the family. And all the same cooing and pampering is showered on me now.

But I have realized one thing. While I am leading a happy, successful, and rewarding life here in the UK as an NRI – the madness & obsession, the aspiration levels attached with living abroad, is over rated. Why? Simply because nothing compares to one’s own country. It’s like leaving your mother and calling someone else, your mother. It calls for a great amount of sacrifice & letting go. But then, that is, the NRI effect!


Comfort Food

September 26, 2012


Food is such an important and integral part of our identities, but we tend to take it for granted. I was recently at a fundraiser from my office in London and to my utter and rather pleasant surprise the food theme for the evening was ‘Chaat’. Yes, good old Indian Chaat! Dipping my fingers into that ‘pattal’ of dahi-puri, standing in this posh London hotel, I was transported to the chaat stands of Lajpat Nagar, where I spent so many delightful afternoons and evenings through my childhood in Delhi. Inexpensive, yummy, comfort food; typically Delhi, typically Indian, and very nostalgic!


That evening I realized that living abroad we hanker after everything Western. NRIs, like always, have this hidden desire to fit in. Often this desperate need to fit in makes us divorce what is so much a part of our beings. And good old Indian comfort food is one such thing that goes out the window making way for, although yummy, Western food but food that doesn’t really have an emotional, sentimental and cultural connect with us.

After that fundraiser I came home and told my wife that we would make each Sunday a day dedicated to all our Indian childhood favorite foods. We have put that tradition into practice ever since. Not only has it brought us great food, it has also brought back the best memories of our childhoods which has bonded us once again with our home country, our families and our young children with whom we can now enjoy a genuine slice of Indian culture. All this thanks to the mouthwatering Indian comfort food treats that we prepare religiously each weekend. There is nothing quite like the comforting warm feeling of familiar childhood hits!

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