Monday, November 17, 2008

Relatives Help and Visit Pune

In Anita's extended family (as may be typical in large ones) interactions range from little or no contact with some relatives for decades, to having very close bonds. We're fortunate to find many in the latter category.

But people lead busy lives and we don't expect them to disrupt these on our account. This is especially so when we're not seeking any help, and assuring relatives that any situation we're facing is firmly under control.

So on our recent trip to Pune we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of warmth, support and help from Anita's folks, who're mostly my good friends too.

When I first arrived to tend to my in-laws' medical emergency I only sought advice and contact information from the three Pune-based uncles and aunts about good hospitals and doctors. That was enough for me to move Daddy and Mummy to the hospital, lock up their apartment and get their treatment under way. Most of Anita's relatives live in Mumbai, and I emphatically told them I needed nothing else and that they shouldn't bother coming to Pune.

But they'd have none of it. Now I know from where Anita gets her stubborn streak (and those other qualities that made me woo her decades ago.) When we come to India we typically stay a few days in Mumbai to meet up and spend time with relatives living there. This time we stayed put in Pune, yet a lot of Mumbaiites that we care about come to us in Pune.

In the process, the visits were a big morale booster for Daddy and Mummy, and our doctors said that these probably significantly helped their recovery. And there was more.

Here are some highlights:

  • Anita's cousins Ashok, Gul, Indru, Jagdish, Kavita, Meena (with daughter Tanny) and Rita specially made the 8 -10 hour round trip from Mumbai to Pune just to look up my in-laws and spend time with us

  • Aunt Duru and Uncle Hira cancelled / put off all their travel and holiday plans despite our protestations, to help, regularly visit and advise us in Pune till my in-laws were home

  • Again, despite my dissuasion Rita with maid in tow left her husband Dilip (who is miserable without her and vice versa) for six days to join me in Pune to tend to Daddy and Mummy in hospital. As it turned out her help was invaluable because I wasn't expecting to be so heavily occupied with Daddy's emergency surgery. Rita's company and consultations apart, I was also able to leave Mummy to her care in this time before Anita had joined me

  • Dilip himself made repeated calls to get me to agree to his visiting Pune and taking me back in his car to Mumbai for the flight back to USA. I instead asked him to postpone his trip so he could look up Daddy and Mummy some time after I and Prakash had gone. Dilip agreed and his trip on Nov. 17 - 18 provides valuable coverage, as did Kavita's second trip on Nov. 8th. This way there's always someone dropping in and checking on Daddy and Mummy as they're steadily getting better

  • Ashok lent a vital cell phone and datacard for internet connectivity on our laptops from anywhere. India's anti-terrorism measures include dumb provisions that make it very difficult for those of us visiting from abroad to obtain cell phones and data cards in our own names. So Ashok's help proved very useful

  • Ashok (and owners Gul and Indru) repeatedly offered all the resources at the 5 star Sun-n-Sand Hotel in Pune which is a short walk from Inlaks. When Anita landed in Mumbai, she was brought to Pune by Ashok and Indru. Then we were ensconced in the penthouse suite of Sun-n-Sand for the next two weeks with the full run of all facilities. It was like living in two worlds, transitioning daily from the hubbub and frenetic activity of the hospital to the lavish luxury of the hotel. There were 300 exotic dishes to try in the hotel's multiple restaurants, a nice gym to work off (half) the calories we took in, and a retinue of smiling staff to attend to our needs
  • Moti Uncle and his wife Mooma lived in Pune for decades till recently, called regularly to enquire about Daddy and Mummy, and give valuable advice. They also had a good 50th wedding anniversary bash in Mumbai on the same evening that I was arriving from Pune to catch my flight back to USA. I went with Meena and Tanny to the party and spent a wonderful 45 minutes meeting and revelling with the assembled clan before leaving for the airport

So despite the serious purpose of our visit and some hectic activity, Anita and I had a memorable trip interspersed with these warm get-togethers, and helpful relatives. (For poor Prakash, Anita's brother and the dutiful son who relieved me in Pune, it was just a lot more of work, which he cheerfully did without having time to meet many people.)

When marrying Anita, I hadn't realized I'd gain such a nice extended family of hers as dowry.

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