Return to India myth #5: You and your kids will have lots of friends in India

by neo

“Great job!” said Neo Jr, when Neo accidentally broke the Mikasa fruit bowl (the kind you get when you have no idea what to gift someone) into 18,433 pieces. It’s not like you need more proof that Neo’s son is smarter than yours, but come on, how gifted is a child who can be sarcastic at 4?

So Neo Jr’s 4th birthday party was mostly a success, but Neo was disappointed he couldn’t meet as many hot moms potential play-date partners for Neo Jr as he’d have liked – many kids arrived with a maid to watch them. Neo was a little offended and very amused when he found out that many of the moms had their own party, hanging out at a new Thai spa. (Offended because he wasn’t invited, and very amused that Mrs. Neo wasn’t!)

But yes, two years after moving to Bangalore, it’s been a “challenge” (don’t you just love euphemistic management jargon?) for the Neos to diversify their friends circle away from other US-returned people. (It’s getting tiring – there’s only so many times Neo can feign laughter at the “Oh let’s get cake from the Prolific Oven!”, “Oh right I forgot we don’t live in the Bay Area!, hahaha” genre of jokes.)

Neo’s neighbors (many of whom have never lived outside India), would be a great natural addition to his list of friends (and be a great source of convenient next-door play dates for Junior), but there are huge differences.

Here’s just one example: safety.

Neo’s neighbors are fine with a 1:6 adult:child ratio while going to a public park. Neo prefers a 6:1 ratio – he assigns one pair of Neo Jr’s grandparents to monitor the exits, the other pair of grandparents to set up a perimeter, while Neo pushes the swing. (Mrs. Neo, like the US government in almost any international crisis, helps by “monitoring the situation closely”.)

(Neo had equipped the Neo Jr Secret Service with their own wireless communication earsets, but abandoned the plan after the following security incident: Neo’s father-in-law figured out how to listen to cricket commentary on his earset, resulting in him gazing into space while a wayward frisbee landed  inside the 10-feet “no-fly” zone around Neo Jr.)

There are other issues too – Mrs. Neo abruptly terminated a play date at one of the neighbors’ when the neighbor brought out enough junk food “high-margin non-nutritive food products” to feed an army of teenagers low on self-esteem.

But for Juniors sake,  the Neos will try harder – there have to be more like-minded people in a city of 6 million (and it’s easy to meet them too, since all of them are currently on the same 2km stretch of road that Neo uses to commute home).

And finally, Neo Jr has to try harder too – when Neo’s elderly neighbor tried to distract Neo Jr from a bag of chocolates with “Hey look! there’s a rocket!”, Neo Jr gave the poor old lady his best bone-chilling, one-eyebrow-raised “are you frickin kidding me?” look!

But yes, Neo Jr has nothing on this kid:

(PS: Special bonus for those readers who thought they’ve finally seen the last of Neo’s tirades on religion: Did you know that Mrs. Neo prays every night ? Yes, every night after Neo Jr goes to bed, Mrs. Neo looks to the heavens and says “Thank God he’s in bed!”)

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