Monthly Archive for March, 2007

Virtual Baby Shower

Fellow bloggers decided to throw a virtual baby shower to our friend The Mad Momma. Neha took it up a notch by throwing in a virtual gift (because virtual gifts are free :P ). I decided to follow suit by gifting Mad Momma hand-made baby T-shirts. Happy Baby Shower Mad Momma (or is it Merry Baby Shower, I can never remember).

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The Hospitality Chess Game

657px-chessset.jpgThe whole obligatory meeting of relatives is like a chess game. You both are ostensibly dying to spend time with each other but in reality you both know that given an option between meeting the relative and watching PBS documentary on advances in colonoscopy, you would choose the latter any day. But neither would admit it. So it becomes a carefully planned game of excuses.

It was my cousin who made the first move, when she called me and said she was visiting California. I implored her to come stay with us, while hoping she wouldn’t. She told me she would love to, but alas, she had so many friends she needed visit. Nevertheless, she promised to make time for her dear cousin. No surprises there; this sequence of opening moves is as standard as the e4-e5 opening. We have to play this game to make sure neither of us have anything to complain to our parents about.

While she was in town, how much ever we tried, we could not find time to meet – for some reason cell phones didn’t work, text messages vanished into thin air, meetings popped up unannounced and sickness ran its devastating course. Essentially, we avoided each other like plague.

Finally, close to the time she was leaving, we agreed that my wife and I would take her out to a nice dinner and be done with the formality. It was indeed a nice, and delightfully short, dinner. Over dinner we talked about every living common relative of ours and were moving on to the ones peacefully resting in their graves when the check finally arrived.

The ride back from the restaurant was the last few minutes of our meeting – known as the “end game” – and needed to be played carefully. I told her, “It is wonderful spending time with you. So sad we spent such a short time. Are you sure you can’t just crash at our place and chat more?” She replied, “Sure. That would be fun.”

I was shocked, as if she played a C4 in Sicilian defense. She was supposed to say, “Oh, I would love to but my friends will be waiting for me.” Now I have no choice but continue the game.

Me: That’s great! Although I don’t want to spoil your plans if you made any already
Cousin: No, but you will have to drop at my friend’s place in the morning. I don’t want to impose on your busy weekday

Aha! You want me to back out.

Me: No, that’s not a problem.
Cousin: That’s great. (Pause). But you know, I didn’t bring any night dress.

She offered a draw. Perfect! It was nobody’s fault. We both dearly wished she came to our place but circumstances conspired differently.

Me: Oh darn! It would’ve been so much fun!

I forgot that there was another person in the car who is blissfully oblivious to all the subtleties of the intricate chess game going on there, A.K.A. the wife, who decided to speak.

W: Oh that’s not a problem. You can wear my clothes.

Damn! That shattered the status quo to million pieces. There was disappointed silence in the car for a few seconds.

Me: (Recovering) That settles it. We are going to my place then.
Cousin: (Gritting her teeth) Ok.

After a minute, I offered her a way out.

Me: You know, if you already made plans with your friends, you can just say it. We are cousins… there are no such formalities between us.

It was a gambit. And she accepted it!

Cousin: Yeah, I should go to my friends’ place. I am sure they are planning some games.
Me: Oh you should definitely go! Much more fun than talking about dead relatives.

We both laughed and sighed with relief.

Now all I have to do is call our respective parents and tell them that my cousin came all the way to California but didn’t have the time to stay at our place. Checkmate.