Communication…and oh my, I’m leaving in 2 days!

Spontaneity is not how I roll…except for today. My thoughts sort of randomly flooded my brain in the midst of packing, so I’m taking a break.

First of all, packing for any international trip is a wild roller coaster! I fatigue just at the thought of everything I need to accomplish between now and my flight….despite this, I’m still blogging.

Two nights ago I gave my Nanu (maternal Grandmother) a call. It was meant to be a quick exchange of words- a simple “assalam alaikum” and “walaikum assalam” (Islamic greetings), a check on her health, a few stories about school, asking for her du’a (blessings), and then relaying the phone to my mom. It’s the same every week or so, a quick verbal acknowledgement as nanu and nathni (grandmother and granddaughter). It’s not that we don’t care for or think of one another whenever we can, it’s just difficult to find a context of communication over the phone (our primary means of communicating when I’m in the U.S.).

This may be very difficult to conceptualize for those who leave near or frequently see their grandparents. But this is also reality for many second generation men and women born in the U.S. Just think about it-first, in terms of our lifestyles. That morning, I ate cereal for breakfast, I caught the bus to campus, picked up a camera, updated my ipod with new songs/photos, grabbed coffee with my girlfriends, came home, watched a little Bangla TV/CNN with my parents….etc. My nanu most probably awoke with a cup of cha (milk tea) and a freshly prepared Bangladeshi breakfast, read a bit of Prothom Alo (Bangladeshi newspaper), asked the driver to bring in a casket of fresh mangoes, prepared some achar (pickle) for her grandchildren, watched a little Zeetv (Indian channel), chatted with my nana (maternal grandfather), etc.

Very different, yeah? Not only is there a generation gap, but we exist in very different cultures with very different expectations. Despite this evidence, my Nanu and I conversed for an hour that night.

Topics ranged from Barack Obama’s autobiographies, to personal habits, to managing stress, to Michael Jackson’s sudden death, etc. It was sweet to say to least- to finally feel like were bridging that gap. But now that I reflect back, I begin to question whether there really was a gap. There’s an implicit connection between me and my Nanu-one beyond the fact we share my mother as a common relative…or have identical mitochondrial DNA. Furthermore, I think there is an implicit connection between any individual, regardless of age, gender, nationality. It’s part of the human condition.

As I think about the trip to come, and the poeple I’ll sit next to, walk by, run into, and meet throughout the journey, I have to to think about the connections we all implicitly share. In order to communicate, there needs to be a mutual welcoming of that connection within. I’m eager to apply this perspective as I meet new people in a land my family calls home. I hope you’ll enjoy their stories.


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  1. Piya / July 4, 2009

    I love this post Anchol – I’ve thought about that a lot lately, talking with my Dida. I think family bonds and values often have the ability to transcend any cultural and generational differences that may exist. I see so many similarities in the way that my Dida and I view the world and love building upon that bond. Anyways my dear have a safe, fulfilling and fun trip! I’ll be reading your posts 🙂
    – Piya didi

  2. Adnan / July 4, 2009

    I am excited to hear your stories as you come across these new people. It will be really interesting to see how the perspectives change as you go from the sprawling cities to the villages. I hope you will be coming to Bhutan with us. Would love to see how you reconcile your Bangladesh experience with that in Bhutan.

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