Chocolate and Gold Coins

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Culture Shock

It was 2:00 A.M and we had just reached my wife's parents house in Chennai after a long journey. We were trying to put my son to sleep in a bed upstairs. He was crying.

"What's wrong?"

"I didn't think it would be like this."

"Like what, dear?"

"I thought it would be nice, like our home in the U.S."

The flight was long and uncomfortable. The Chennai airport was unimpressive and crowded with people. The city itself was recently flooded and is actually in good shape considering that but by U.S. standards it is very definely "underdeveloped". And my wife's parents house has seen better days.

I somewhat feared that this would be his reaction. Actually, my wife felt it too. We have been living the good life and it has spoiled us somewhat. We live in a very nice single family home about two miles from Tyson's Corners, at the heart of Fairfax County, America's wealthiest county (by far) of one million residents or more. My son has never seen run down homes in his life. All he knows is the life of the upper middle class in the U.S. And then he comes to my wife's parents home at 2:00 in the morning. He cried all night.

My wife's parent's house was decently nice in 1995 when we last visited but maintenance has been neglected a bit. The recent flood did not help things, and now the home has a kind of malodor about it. My wife's parents have not purchased any new appliances or other goods in a long time so the home looks a bit like a time capsule of 1980's India. And the home is only 1/4 the square feet of our home in Virginia. All of this was bound to hit my son very hard.

Anyway, a burst pipe forced us to relocate to a hotel a quarter mile away. It is very posh and my son is ecstatic. But it is troubling to think that my son will never be happy in life if he doesn't have the posh life. It isn't guaranteed.


  • You refer to your son in some of your posts, and if you don't mind me asking, I would like to know how old is he, just to relate to your posts better! I can guess somewhere between 5-12, but thats too wide, anyway..

    By Blogger Ashish Gupta, at 6:36 PM  

  • Hi Ashish
    He is 7.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 11:13 PM  

  • Welcome to India. I found it a little odd that you keep referring to your in-laws as "wife's parents" so many times in the post :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:27 AM  

  • Hi Varun
    Don't make anything out of that - I like my in-laws very much. But the term "in-law" seems to me cares a bit of a negative connotation.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 10:12 AM  

  • Why don't you refer to your wife's parents as "daddy" and "mummy" or "papa" and "mummy" as all American sons and daughters-in-law are taught to do?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:05 PM  

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