Daughter

Party time

12:00 PM

So since the only purpose of our trip to Lucknow was to celebrate Ishita’s 3rd birthday in one massive party we should normally have thrown on her 1st birthday, let’s talk about it.
It was held on the 6th of July which is her exact birth date and our wedding anniversary as well. DH being the one who had to foot the bill for that thing insisted months in advance to keep the party cheap enough considering we had an estimated hundred of guests to come. And it turned out that the venue that would be the most affordable without compromising on food quality was a restaurant in a club in the cantonment area (military base), the cost per head for a non vegetarian fare was 400 rupees which was extremely fair considering Royal Cafe asked double that price. The drawback is that because it is on army ground, no loud music was allowed, which efficiently meant no DJ. Which in all honesty was more than fine with me, I’ve been to a few parties and impossibly loud Bollywood music the whole evening long wears really thin, beside in our party there was a max of 10-15 kids in all, not enough to even bother hiring an entertainer.
My in-laws waited until we came to give us the menu options so we could choose, then we headed to JJ bakery picked up a nice cake that looked like this:


DSC02355

That monster of a cake was 6kg and was Ishita’s favourite in the catalogue, a perfect Princess cake to go with her nice dress. The base was butterscotch flavoured, and the towers chocolate, of the two the chocolate was tasting better to me.
The party was supposed to start at 7.30pm, but no one bothered showing up before 8.30, by 9 the head waiter asked when we wanted to do the cake and DH said “Right now” only to end up in a mini argument with his mom who said we had to wait for her sister to come! At this point I wondered why she was insisting on waiting for someone who was late when it wasn’t even her party but my DAUGHTER’S who oh by the way is 3 year old and became understandably fussy considering the late time, and the fact that nothing else at the party was kid friendly except her cake. DH managed to negotiate, told his mom we would wait 5 minutes and then do the cake regardless, fortunately that mausi in question showed up in the nick of time.
Ishita enjoyed her cake, and the rest of the party was the usual Indian affair of guests moving to the buffet, eating and leaving right after that. MIL managed however to ruin it a little for me belittling me in front of guests on purpose, I won’t drag into details, but basically at one point when I was busy enjoying cake with my daughter and chatting to some distant relatives she came all fuming to me shouting “Serve karo” which means “Do the service” and which I failed to understand, because it was a fully staffed and catered venue and beside at that point the waiters had cut a serving of cake for everybody. MIL furious that I failed to understand went as far as asking the relative I was talking to to translate, basically she wanted me to go stand by the cake to serve guests slices should they want a second one! Yup you read that right, she asked me to play waitress at my own daughter’s party on my anniversary…a party that by the way her son paid in full for! The relatives I was chatting with had a baffled look about them hearing MIL bark at me in a tone she uses on her own servants, and even my sister in law who was in the background and overheard it was totally shocked at it. With no choice under MIL’s laser stare I had to stand and march toward that cake, only to have SIL even more alarmed and shocked urging me to go back and sit and enjoy the cake with my daughter.
I was fuming inside of course, totally shocked and hurt. DH was outside chatting with a friend, so I took the excuse of leaving the indoor area to look for him pretexting Ishita wanted her papa to go immediately tell him what happened, he was as shocked as me of course, then urged me to take a deep breath and we went back inside where he found my SIL and asked her what happened, to hear exactly the same words I reported to him, and then he went to his mom asking her in a diplomatic way why she asked me instead of the waiter to do the service. MIL in her usual way tried to pretend that no it was not how it looked and that she requested me to keep an eye on guests who wanted a second serving of cake because there was no waiters around (of course they all moved back to serving starters and preparing the main course buffet), but DH wasn’t fooled, so he came back to me telling me that his mom made it sound trivial again, and told me to just ignore her and walk away if she came near me, which didn’t happen as MIL pissed at having been caught in her little trick went in hiding in a corner of the venue only to shoot me dark killing stares should I pass within her sight..oh well, there were many other people to chat to anyway. But way to go ruining the spirit of a party, a party she and her husband requested as it is tradition, but did not pay for, and only the guests were theirs.

To be frank, I have been to a few kids party in India, at the exception of one which was held into that person’s home, none were kid friendly. All the other started very late considering it involved toddlers, had very little kid friendly food, a majority of adult, blasting Bollywood music that isn’t age appropriate and almost always ended up with the birthday kid crying by the time the cake came out because they were simply to darn exhausted to even care. In our case I was glad we did the cake before the buffet because it was already 9pm, the party dragged until almost midnight when the last guests left, by then Ishita was half asleep on my shoulder asking for being in bed. Call me nut, or conservative or anything you want, but I don’t think a 3 years old should be up until midnight, and I don’t think it is appropriate to hold a kid’s birthday party at night either. And I don’t think birthday parties should have hundreds of guests who barely remember who you are from the wedding and ask “So what’s your daughter’s name?” followed by “How old is she"?” If they have to ask these questions, they are clearly not bothered to keep in touch with the family in other circumstances, so why should we have to pay 400 bucks to feed them just in the sake of tradition?

There said it, rant over, but then we are now done with the tradition keeping thing, my in-laws had their big party, and we won’t have to bear with the July heat in Lucknow again.

17 comments

  1. Wow, that's one really bold post, much like some of your other posts. It is the general norm here that grandparents are given free hand in who they want to invite and I can clearly see how that can be irking.


    Your outburst seems to come from not an inslated incident but from a series of issues that keep happening. It is indeed sad and I hope things only get better with the newer generations of Mother in laws and father in laws.


    What come surprising to me is your blatant depiction of your thoughts through your blog. I should appreciate you for that because when I write something personal, be it on my blog, or facebook, I have to look at who within the family should probably not be privy to the information I am posting for fear of some political issues that may arise. I should commend you for speaking your mind here. That said, Just wondering what happens if your MIL happens to read this. Will it not add to the existing friction ? I know it is a personal question and I may have crossed my boundaries here. You may choose not to answer me :)

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  2. You are right this doesn't stem from an isolated incident, rather a string of events over the years. As for the fear of my MIL ever reading it, there is very slim chances of that happening, she would not read it herself, she doesn't know how to use a computer, and she doesn't speak much English, not enough to be able to go through my blog, the ones in the family that could maybe eventually read it are my brothers in law, and I highly doubt any of them two would tell her about the content of that blog if they do read it. I have a few relatives that do sometimes log in to facebook to check Ishita's picture, but it stops there it seems.
    But yeah this is one bold post here, because i tend to try to keep the MIL drama off the blog, but that even was by far the most public display of humiliation she submitted me to, and did weight heavy on me and pretty much tainted a party that should have been a happy occasion.

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  3. Swati3:33 AM

    That sounds pretty horrible. Well done for not answering back because I am not the one for mincing words. I would have definitely told her off but it wouldn't have helped, I know.


    Take a deep breath and have a relaxing beach holiday to make up for this break from hell!

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  4. Yeah I guess years of experience made me act that way :-) I tried answering back in the early days and it had disastrous consequences, DH tried with pretty much the same result, so now we just shut up and ignore.

    I wish we could take a relaxing vacation, but we were already a bit tight with money before having to pay for that party, so now needless to say we can't afford a real vacation on our own.

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  5. Talk about traditions that suck !!! Really Sorry that your MIL ruined your mood on your anniversary.. but hey, that is how Indian families work, just be glad that you do not have to deal with this on a daily basis! And of course, I am happy that your husband supported you on this one - most husbands in India dont . I am 8 months pregnant right now, and it is part of the South Indian tradition to host a Bangle Ceremony in the 7th month of pregnancy (aka Baby Shower - only in South India the gifts are given to the mother-to-be and you wont get any baby gifts..) As per the tradition, the inlaws are supposed to host this function and then send the girl to her mom's place - and she returns back to the husband's place with the baby... In preparation to this function, MIL first suggested that she would buy me a sari - then decided that an 8k sari was fitting for the function but I had to shell out 3k cuz her budget was only 5k - I asked her to get me a sari for 5k or lesser well within her budget, I had no intention on shelling out money to buy a sari I would not wear often - but she insisted I buy the costlier version and pay the remaining amount :( and if I wanted my relatives to attend the function - apparently they had the budget to host the function with only their side of relatives - I would have to compensate money for the number of people I wished to be present from my end - so with so many calculations and constant talk about who is paying the bill - I had already lost the enthusiasm for the event when the D-day came and went. And my MIL ruined the actual day, my making a statement loud enough for everyone to hear that a grander function of the same kind (another baby shower) needed to be arranged by my parents - talk about demands made by the Boy's side of the family to the Girl's side - sometimes you wonder when India would grow out of all this...

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  6. First thing first: BIG HUGS to you.
    Then : ewwwwww I can't believe the level of tackiness of your MIL! What is the point of a gift if you need to pay for it? Pretty much like you I don't see why the sari should absolutely be a 8k worthy one when she could only afford a 5k one!
    And yes I think this would be a good thing for India to grow out of some all these traditions, a party should be fun, not put anybody in financial debt and be more of a social obligation than a celebration, it might have made sense in more simpler times, but now all these things have become such a big commercial affair. All in all the party set us 45k ad to this 15k of plane tickets for us to get there, and 5k to put the dog in a kennel for the kennel...it's no wonder we always struggle to save some money, but as far as my in-laws are concerned their son has a big job in Mumbai no less so that must mean we can just come whenever and pay for stuff like this...sigh!

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  7. Hugs to you as well :D In my frustration over MIL I forgot to mention that your daughter's cake looks absolutely amazing. Which girl doesn't want a cake fit for a princess? My parents had ordered a big party when I turned 5, mom says the cake weighed 5 kg - it is the biggest cake they had ever ordered for me all my life and while I dont remember the details of the birthday party as I was 5, that cake and the sheer majestic size in the pics makes it my favourite birthday cake ever. Your daughter would have similar fond memories and would cherish the photo of that cake years later.

    On another note, 45k is indeed a lot of money to meet family obligations :) In India, parents have this sentiment that they have done everything that they possibly could to give us a decent education and so when we are working it is assumed that we would cater to their needs. Which is a lousy concept in theory, but this is how it goes for example - your parents/inlaws would never pay money if you were to take them out to dinner in any restaurant - the logic being they paid for you all these years - now you are working so you have to pay the bills from now on no matter where. So your MIL's behavior is the same - you get to fulfill THEIR fancy of inviting a lot of THEIR friends to maintain a certain degree of status in THEIR society but you get to pay the bill because well now you are working and they are retired and it is your DUTY.

    Our generation is going through the rebel phase, I feel. At times, we feel obligated and we try to please our parents even if it is once in a while and we keep our distances at other times... Your daughter's and my kid's generation would stop caring for such traditions for the sake of society altogether.

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  8. Thank you :-) she actually kept pointing at that cake in the catalogue when we were picking it up.

    I think with each generations some traditions are lost, and in the case of that one, I think it won't be a bad thing at all. I actually hate the feeling of being in debts to parents because they did take care of us as kids. I know it's cultural, but to me it feels very odd and artificial.

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  9. OMG! ur MIL has crossed the line here, But its good that ur DH managed to take care of it so well. Also you surprise me. Your DH's parents have a right in his income. Just a teeny weeny bit. All they asked was to host a party and you are cribbing so much about it? Are you not throwing useless kitty parties for ur friends which ur hubby pays for? I dont know how it works in the west, parents do not pay for higher education but here it is partly because of them that ur DH is earning big bucks. And considering the whole thing where your contribution to the party was zero i don't know what ur complaining about. With what a maid and a cook here, i highly doubt that you could have lived such a life of luxury at ur hometown.

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  10. Man, you are a saint to sacrifice your holiday for the sake of your MIL's wishes especially when she is so nasty to you. Honestly, just tell her off or give her the silent treatment. She has to learn that there are boundaries that she can't cross.

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  11. A Merican Punjaban PI7:05 AM

    I sympathize with you. All these 'traditions' are ridiculous. I think a lot of them are exaggerated by the in-laws. I also haven't seen anything kid friendly at any party in India. I worry about Ishita though because what is it teaching her to see your MIL treat you this way? It can't give her a good impression of Indian culture. I know there are good things about you being the better woman in the situation but she should understand it's not acceptable to treat people this way (as she gets older).

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  12. There are plenty of respectable people in India Ishita can see as role models, I guess she'll just grow to understand that there are tacky ones and that sadly her grand ma is one of these, we are teaching her respect of others regardless of their status at home.

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  13. Not that I think it's any of your business, but DH and I are still recovering from the last year's stint where he had no salaries for 6 months.
    As ot the kitty, not that you should mind, but I'm part of a group where we don't spend fortune on these, we are a group of 8 pay the host 250 bucks each to go toward a Tupperware gift and recovering some of the food cost, food whcih by the way is NOT catered, it's home cooked fun food, and I don't think it is for you to judge of their being useless or not either.

    What I mind in the Ishita party thing, is that a) it is putting us into debts again b) Despite being a KID's birthday it was anything but kid friendly c) most of the people invited didn't even know her name or her age and had to ask us...these people don't care enough about the family so why should they be invited? d) MIL behaved like it was her party and her shots had to be called at the party that we paid for in full.

    On the fact that it is apparently not my money...again I advise silence on that, because DH fully understands that just because I don't work outside the house, my work as a SAHM has a value, and he clearly get that it is OUR money, not only his. HE consults me for expenses he plans to make and I do the same...and yes he didn't like the idea of spending money on that party either, bound by tradition it was done, and while we both think 45k was high, trust me the first thing he told me once the whole thing was done was "I'm so happy we didn't cross the 50k mark like I feared" He was also grateful to once and for all be done with this whole function obligation too.

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  14. A Merican Punjaban PI9:43 AM

    I don't know Cyn's specific details but the common assumption among Indians is that the parents pay for the full education when Indians are educated abroad. I've yet to see that actually happen though. Most times they pay the initial fees, get the child sent to some other country then the child has to work in crappy jobs and struggle to survive and pay school fees. So the parent's have a false sense of entitlement in many cases. Far too many Indian students are maxed out in student loans or deep in debt while their parents let the neighbors think they paid for it all.

    Also, most Indians tell me the parents only want to see their children succeed and make a good life. But the parents don't typically let that happen. Many of them keep their kids in debt, force their kids to pay for expensive things they can't afford and all the while the parents hoard their money. I've seen that many times in gori/desi and desi/desi relationships.

    A lot of this boils down to a difference in cultures. While western families raise their kids and do things for their kids, they rarely expect anything in return. Indian families do things for their kids with the expectation the kids will do everything for them later in life. It's a sense of entitlement that is not always deserved as not all parents (in any culture) are good parents.

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  15. Dh did all his eduction in India, but took a students loan to cover the MBA costs, it took years to pay it back.
    I know a lot Indian parents want their kids to a have a good life, but not for the sake of the kids as such, rather for the amount they can themselves get back in return.
    DH and I are still yet to own a property of anykind, his mom cribs about that blaming her son for bad financial planning, but what she fails to realise is that life in metro is significantly costlier than in a city like Lucknow to begin with.

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  16. SunshineForever12:13 AM

    Cyn's MIL certainly crossed the line and then some.. I think Cyn enacted very graciously. Kudos to you Cyn, I would have totally snapped! It's painful to have to go through these huge parties with people you don't even know for kids that don't even enjoy them.


    However, I think the comment above generalises things about Indian parents a bit too much. MY own parents paid for my foreign education in full. They were then very proud of me when I got a good job, and still helped pay for my wedding. They have never expected anything in return and certainly do not stop me from having a good life or keep me in debt! This is also all true for my husband and almost all of our many friends (no exaggeration).


    I find it offensive that you would generalise your negative perception/ experience with Indian parents to ALL Indian parents. It belittles the hard work of scores of mums and dads. I think what you might have seen is probably more coloured by the generation/ background/ circumstances of people around you than culture. Most parents I know in India and the west (where I live and work) want the best for their kids in life and do everything they can towards that. That said, there are also some bad parents in India (and abroad) I'm sure. Just like there are good/ bad people everywhere.

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  17. SunshineForever12:15 AM

    Not 'enacted', 'acted'.. ugh, typos!

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