Friday, April 12, 2013


Previously published in Muse India

American ♫ Desi Girl ♫

This is a series of anecdotes, snapshots, taken over ten years, from the life of an Indian-American family that lives in 'Fairview' AnyState, USA. The focus is on their daughter who has no name so we'll just call her Princess, or the Little Princess(the LP). Daughters in India have nicknames like Guriya, Kanna, etc., like in the US people end up calling their daughters Pun'kin or Precious or Princess. Moms are often 'Amma', 'Mummy', 'Mumma', 'Ammi', 'Ma', but the less ubiquitous 'Mama' is what I call her. Her name could be Sheila, or Priya, or Kalyani. We, the diaspora in the US buy fireworks around the 4th of July and save them for Diwali because you don't get fireworks easily in October. Our thinking changes over the years and through generations and we don't even notice it, and those are the things I've tried to include in my story.  The  format is a little unusual so I'll have to explain I guess. The story contains references to movie titles, songs, books, and it is supposed to work as a treasure hunt. The reader has to guess where the lyric or reference came from. You do get a cheat sheet at the end of each anecdote.

Chapter 1

Lemonade and Iced Tea

Spring break had arrived with oodles of flowers, sunshine, and inexplicably hot weather. The doomsdayers among the naturalists were having a field day in the media. Mama had invited all of the LP’s (the Little Princess) cousins to spend the day with them. Entertaining twenty children all day long wasn’t easy but it sure was a lot of fun. Over the years this was something Mama and Papa had done as a yearly ritual.

After a day of baking brownies to eat after a spaghetti lunch and games of Hide and Seek, Ludo, Pachisi, Rummy, Go Fish, Hopscotch, and such, the children were running through the sprinklers for the first time that year.

Worn out and completely happy, except for the occasional and sporadic childish disagreements that had lasted a few moments, the children were now changed into dry clothes, fed rather well on baked chicken and corn, and seated all over the living room. As the calories transformed into sugar in the little ones they began to giggle and twitch and run amuck around the room endangering life and limb and expensive artifacts. This had happened before so Mama had a plan for this evening. She had asked Papa to buy a few foam noodles they could play with even while sitting, and explained the game she had made up for them while Papa brought the noodles in from the car. Those foam noodles kept coming. There were two to a kid. There was almost no room to sit.

“What were you thinking?” she asked with her whole demeanor.
“They were cheaper by the dozen,” said Papa looking a little guilty.

Mama’s quiet and orderly game lasted long enough to de-escalate the children into a quieter mood. Now it was circle time, they were telling each other stories and jokes. The phone started to ring and parents, grandparents, baby-sitters were on their way to pick up their wards.

Babbo was on his way, so were Dadima, Ma, Mom, Mummy, Ba, Chinnamma, Baba, Pappa, Ammi, Zayde and Bapuji.

American Desi — movie
♫ Desi Girl ♫ — song from movie “Dostana”
Cheaper By The Dozen — book by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, and movie.

Picture taken by Juhie Gurpur


  1. look forward to reading more, always

  2. Thanks. Glad you like the story so far. There are another 10 chapters or so.