When they say 3 is a crowd, it really is a crowd! Especially when it is you, your mother and mother-in-law. Today, I am a victim of mamtha (motherly love), endowed generously, doused with extra toppings of paternal advice by 2 of the most highly opinionated, and influential women in my life.
In the last 8 years of my life I have done the moving, packing, shifting, settling and even finding my feet in a new city, on my own. But since the time I have been married my survival credibility has been questioned at every step.
Moving to Toronto has probably been the most harrowing experience of my life. Not because I had any trouble with my Visa or immigration, but because my mom and mom-in-law had taken it upon themselves to help me move and settle. And as the saying goes, there is going to be fire when you see the smoke.
I had to pack a suitcase full of everything my mother felt I would need for the kitchen and home.
Me - ‘Mom this is too much, I have enough vessels to cook for an army’
Mom - ‘What would you know? Tomorrow I don’t want your mother-in-law to complain that I didn’t teach you anything. Dhivya, you are going to need these. Like this size vessel is perfect to heat milk in for 2 people. And please keep one vessel to make your masala food that reeks of garlic and a separate one for our Tamil Brahmin kind of food. Make sure you don’t mix the two.’
During my bachelorette days I only had the utensils my mom never wanted, and I would use them as I pleased.
Me - ‘AAAAaaaaarrrrggggghhhhh what is this?’
Mom - ‘That’s a coconut scraper. You need it to make avial.’
Me - ‘I hate avial.’
Mom - ‘So you’ll starve poor Vivek?’
Me - ‘Like avial was the only food he would ever eat’
My mom and I had a million arguments about my way of life, cooking and house keeping before I got to Toronto. She wasn’t sure if I would pass my mother-in-law’s (who on her part set up the kitchen with another set of pots and pans that she thought I would need to feed her son) scrutiny.
By no stretch of my imagination did I ever see this coming. My mom and mom-in-law helping me settle into my newly wedded life with someone I have known for nearly a decade.
From day 1, I was given a crash course on everything - stocking masalas, making rajma, quantity and proportion, types of rice, laundry, ironing, doing dishes, seasoning, cooking for more than 2 people, tips on what to pack for lunch when I start working, what does Vivek like, preparing grocery lists, oils and their use and how to plan my day. Every other advice that they could find from their own experiences of good house keeping was doled out to me for free.
And if this weren’t bad enough they marched me to various grocery stores from Walmart, Value mart, No Frills, Fair Price, Dollorama, and to every Indian store we could find in Little India, like Ambal grocery and Padma Stores, where prices were painstakingly compared and lists were made on where to buy what for cheap. Now I truly know why Indian advertisers are so desperate to woo the Indian house wife, she knows her deals at the back of her hand.
What’s ironic is, in all this, Vivek seems to be getting all the sympathy votes. The general thought at home being, “poor Vivek has so much to study, what would Dhivya lose if she made one more dish?”
My fingers are sore scribbling recipes and preparing lists and my head throbs every time I am faced with a mind-numbing pop up quiz at a grocery store about the types of rice available, but I know I am settled and these two women are to be credited for it. I may bitch, complain, whine and vent about my predicament, but the truth is they have worked extremely hard to make my transition into Toronto and my new life extremely easy.
Even though I do not know what to do with half the stuff in my kitchen I know I’ll figure it out. And about the recipe book, I hope to add a few pages of my own. Because when my day comes to play the harrowing part, I want to be just as good as these 2 wonderful women.