It's wedding time in the Rao/Ratkalkar family and that means chaos.
As tradition goes, the wedding will last from Wednesday to Saturday and for that I have been stuffing gift bags, writing name cards in calligraphy pens, and generally following my cousin (kudos to the calmest, sanest bride I've ever been around) back and forth to Edison outfit alterations.
The house is full of silk saris and colorful bangles and pounds of Indian snacks in boxes. The phone rings constantly and the television is always on. Family members are trickling in slowly from Hyderabad, from Milwaukee, from Brooklyn -- by Wednesday there will be thirty of us here, scrounging for mattress space.
Gone are the days of washing my clothes by hand on the ground and wearing two sets of salwar kurta. And though I have mysterious cravings for the rice and daal of the villages, I eat peanut butter and jelly or spinach salad and convince myself I'll cook when I get back to school. The closest thing I've had is the Buddhist Delight from a local Chinese restaurant.
I knew about reverse culture shock coming back from India, I prepared myself, but the shock is more of a dull frustration. As happy as I am to hug my family and make Bollywood playlists on my IPod, something feels off. I walk around turning off lights and researching alternative education and wondering what to do when I graduate that will make me and my family happy.
I may have underestimated the power of change to throw me off balance. How can six weeks have an effect on me that twenty years didn't?
But I'm just being whiny. In three days, when the oil lamps are lit, the garlands are strung and uncles, aunts and cousins sit around with plates of biryani and glasses of beer, I will probably never stop smiling.