Thursday, March 24, 2005

from the left hand side

Abhi, whose new nickname should maybe be Unbreakable, posted on Holi at SM, and the last part of his post reminded me of an infamous story in my family. I can't believe I'm even writing it, and I'm not even sure anyone will find it as hilarious as my family does.

It's not out of the ordinary when Holi is celebrated in India for bhang to be consumed. It's also not out of the ordinary for my family to make requests of other family members for various things when one is travelling to India. How these two intersect follows...

K mami was going to India about 15 years ago, planning to return close to the start of Holi. With a 2-year old and a 5-year old in tow, she's going there alone. Now, this might translate to sympathy from your families, but in my family it means only one thing- since the kids were traveling with her, baggage allowances went up significantly. And so, everyone starts placing their orders (keep in mind, this is 15 years ago, when you couldn't simply access most Indian goods by taking a quick drive to your nearest Little India). So... her brother-in-law, V mama, puts in his request, asks her to get him some of that stuff that goes into bhang. She puts it on the list, describes it exactly that way when she seeks it out in India.

So there she is, waiting in the customs line at Logan, carting along two rather young kids, bags filled to the point of bursting, and the customs inspector decides that her bags should be inspected. Even though she's annoyed that she will probably have a heck of a time re-packing these bags, she complies without much of a fuss. The inspector does his thing, until he comes to a bag of dried leaves. "What's this?" he asks. At first, K mami doesn't really know what to say. She shrugs it off, which probably makes her look ridiculously suspect to the inspector. So he asks, "Who asked you to bring this?" Now, K mami's normal nervous energy has been eclipsed by full-on anxiety and she decides it's time to zip her lips.

She just says that the bag is stuff that goes into bhang. The inspector calls over another official, and next thing you know, my mami is sitting in an interrogation room, getting ready to look at the wrong side of a jail cell. This is particularly crazy when you consider that my mami doesn't even break 55 on the highway for fear of getting a ticket. She's just petrified and confused. The two kids have been escorted to their dad, M mama. Mass confusion abounds. M mama has no idea why his wife is in trouble, and his wife is similarly baffled, but neither of them can see each other. After a melee of madness in our family that lasts for 30 minutes or so, V mama finally comes clean that maybe, just maybe that stuff that goes into bhang is an illegal substance. Um... yeah. At this point, the moment shifts into sharp focus for me. I'm young, my brother's sitting next to me, we're all together as a family trying to figure out what's going on. And then V mama says bhang has "merri-ju-wanna" in it. At this point, my brother and I lose our sh**. We're equal parts terrified for my mami and cracking up hysterically. All the adults in the room look at us like we're a pair of idiots... but it turns out, we're the only ones that recognize what has happened.

Let's just say, after that, V mama was not allowed to request anything from family members traveling to India.

I have another, sweeter wacky-tobacky-related memory, but I'll have to post that a little later. The alien who is trying to burst out of my head has still not succeeded, and my efforts to drown him with water, drugs, and alcohol have all failed.

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