Family Karma: Say Hello to your (New) Friends

I think I’ve morphed into some sort of DJ/Blogger hybrid because now I’m taking requests. In truth, I had already considered watching the show and possibly blogging about it. Before I was able to watch, though, three friends I enjoy very much recommended it to me. So this long distance dedication goes out to Matt, Michelle, and Patti for peer pressuring me out of procrastination.

I will confess to knowing very little about Indian culture. Aside from seeing the movie Gandhi and my grandson’s obsession with The Mighty Bheem, I’ve had little exposure to the history, faith, and traditions of India’s people. Droplets through the sieve of pop culture have led me to an appreciation of the spirituality and on a more surface level…the fashion. An immediate connection was formed, however, when Anisha Ramakrishna made her Babysitter’s Club reference at the beginning of the show (hence the blog’s title.) My daughter was obsessed with it growing up, so I immediately had a sense of what I was about to see…family, fun, and friendships.

To begin a friendship you always need a little background, so rather than my typical episodic retelling this is going to be an introduction of sorts to the families and their dynamics we’ve seen up to this point. I’m in love with all of them already so far, barring maybe one difficult personality, but we’ll get to her soon.

We’ll start where the show did with the Ramakrishna family. In the first episode we meet Gopal and Saroja who are Anisha’s grandparents, and Ram and Chitra, her parents. Anisha has moved back to Miami after having lived on her own for several years in New York. She’s living with her parents again to be able to focus on her fashion line. A common thread we’ll see throughout the families is the subject of marriage. Anisha’s grandparents and parents had arranged marriages. In fact Chitra confessed to only having had a 3 hour conversation with Ram before they were engaged. Seeing the success of these marriages so many years later is interesting in and of itself, and watching the parents adjust to the westernized standard of love marriages should be an interesting ride.

Next we’re introduced to part of the Benni family: Brian and his mom Dharma. When he was young, Brian was teased for being Indian and fashioned a more westernized version of himself as a result. He talks about not going the traditional doctor or lawyer route, but instead working in IT. As his desire to settle down has surfaced, he wants to get reacquainted with his culture and religion. He gives us a little insight as to what that entails as he and his mom prep for and perform a puja ritual to bless his BMW 340i. I’ll admit, there was a bit of a needle screeching across a record and coming to a dead stop moment when I found out what was being blessed. Although in hindsight, blessing a car and keeping it from external harm also protects everyone within, so it makes sense.

After the puja we’re introduced to the Parvanis. Vishal is the son of Reshma and Kishor and predictably based on the pattern, he too lives with his parents. We’re also introduced to his fiance of two years Richa Sadana. I don’t like to mentally tank relationships before I get to know people, but there is a vibe here that doesn’t seem like a love connection. Vishal is fun and goofy and a little appearance focused where Richa seems much more serious and intellectual. I may be proven wrong, but even without the unspoken inter-family issues, something doesn’t seem like I’m going to be hearing an Indian version of “The Wedding March” anytime soon.

We move on to the cast member who became my instant favorite: Monica Vaswani and her dog Simba. Monica is also in the IT field and teaches Indian dance at night. She jokingly laments her westernized name and recalls asking her mother why she wasn’t given a beautiful Indian one. Her mom replied, “How did I know you’d be so Indian?” Monica is absolutely lovely inside and out. After her parents divorce she lived with her dad Raj who is also her best friend. And speaking of friends, I’m already shipping her with Brian in my head. They’ve know each other since they were in school and they even went to prom together. Now that he’s becoming more traditional, I’m hoping for this to be a somewhat arranged love marriage.

Amrit Kapai is our next new face and he’s recently moved back to Miami to live with his parents Suresh and Lavina as he sets up an office for the Chicago law firm he works for. He feels like he’s made his parents proud in all of the boxes that matter except for one…getting a wife. That’s not going to happen because he happens to be gay. My heart hurt a little in the confessional with his mom as Lavina admitted she and her husband were shattered when they found out. She also said though that she used to fight with God about it, but now she thanks Him because they have come to accept Amrit for who he is. I love that!

All of the families are going to be together at the upcoming Diwali Gala. Anisha likens it to the Hindu Met Gala where everyone comes decked out in their most eye-catching garb. It’s a Who’s Who of the Indian community, but we’ll soon see the Festival of Lights turn into a Festival of Frights. We see Lopa (who Vishal aptly termed his FML-although intending it to mean Future Mother in Law) absolutely go all in on how unworthy Vishal is of Richa. Lopa lives in Memphis and only visits Miami when she has to, because she doesn’t like the gossip about her in the community. She’s blonde, divorced, and in a male dominated career which apparently translates into her being a maneater. Or quite possibly it’s because of how she actually behaves around married men, which we witness with Brian’s dad Mike at the Gala. Mike and Dharma are one of the few couples with love marriage bound by the “destiny” of side by side lockers in school, which in reality Mike paid for. That’s true love right there.

Next week we’ll be seeing more of the aftermath of Lopa’s behavior at the Gala and hopefully build a better and lasting relationship with these families. I, for one, am all set to throw in my plea to be an honorary Auntie. Hope to see you then!

The new podcast just aired as well! Check out Jordan and Brianna’s takes on this amazing cast:

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