Tradition of ‘Seeing off’ and ‘Receiving’!!!

Yesterday me and my husband went to the airport to receive our aunt at 3 AM in the morning. I was taken aback by the number of people waiting for their loved ones at the wee hours of morning. As we waited there for her to come out at the international terminal, we were constantly pushed and shoved by the eager crowd who wanted to see their loved ones. But in their excitement they ignored the fact that their flights weren’t even announced yet.

There was a lady standing next to me with a child in her arms, mind you this was 3 AM in the morning, I thought she might be receiving her husband and hence she brought her child too. She was constantly trying to keep the kid awake, and the kid gave a good fight, did not budge with any of her tactics and after crying for a bit slept peacefully even in the crazy mayhem of the airport. Oh, I was so jealous of the kid at that time! Anyways, that lady turned out to be accompanied by around seven other people which included another lady with a kid. Soon they started waving to a young man coming our way. Well long story short, they, all eight of them and two kids were there to receive that young man. They thronged around him, there were hugs , kisses and what not. In their moment of reunion they almost blocked the way for the rest of the passengers for a good 5-10 minutes.

I was so engrossed by this whole scene that I almost didn’t see my aunt arrive. She is not-so-seasoned traveler, and it was an odd tome of night hence we both decided to go there to receive her. On our way back I was thinking about the family i saw there. And in fact several other groups where a bunch of people came to receive One person.  Was the young man too tied to travel the final lap of his journey, from airport to his home? Did he happen to forget the address of his own home? Was it necessary to bring such little kids to the airport in this cold night so that their distant uncle can see them? Wasn’t he going to see them at home anyways?

This another group waiting for a man there, comprised of a young lady who had a kid in her lap and another holding her hand, and two elderly women by her side. When the man finally arrived the little girl holding that young lady’s hand jumped in his lap. Perhaps, she was meeting her father after a long time. This was something acceptable to me, the man seemed to become really emotional holding the little kid and so was the young lady. What was baffling was the two elderly women and the three men waiting with them didn’t even bother to give a proper welcome to the man they were waiting for. Instead they were busy looking at the LED TV and  the other stuff he brought along with him. So you came to the airport to get the first-look at the goodies he brought? weren’t you gonna do the same at home? Was it worth the trouble of traveling from Kottayam to Cochin Airport (almost 2 – 2 1/2 hours journey)?

I remember in my childhood, what a big deal it was to have a relative or a friend living or working abroad. It was a matter of immense pride to have someone to flaunt in front of your peers as my foreign cousin or my foreign uncle. Anyone bringing foreign chocolates in class would be the star attraction. My Appu (maternal Grandfather- Appupa) used to tell me stories about the ‘Petti Thorukkal’ – a suitcase opening ceremony. In older times whenever anyone came back from visit abroad, he/she was supposed to bring lots of goodies for everyone around. And hence, people would gather around when they opened their suitcases to see all the goodies.

Appu said it was a big deal back then, But if you think, its a big deal even now. We love all things foreign. Foreign chocolates, foreign vacations, foreign liquor and apparently foreign returns! I know a close relative, one aunt of ours who didn’t speak to my cousin brother who came back from Australia recently. The reason was that he didn’t bring her anything, not even chocolates! He had to buy some sweets from the duty free shops at airport for that aunt to make up for it.

Why is it such a big deal? Beats me. We get almost every thing ‘foreign’ here now. So why the fuss??

The guy slugs for a year to come back home on vacation to spend all his money saved on goodies for people. That’s not fair. If you are so interested in flaunting foreign brand, go get them. They are easily available in most shopping malls now. Don’t make the poor guys spend his money on goodies for you, which of course will never be up to your expectation.  He’s slugging in a foreign country to make a living, to give a better life ti his family. If you cant respect that or understand that, at least try not to make it even harder for him.

And stop crowding airports so much. if someone can travel across continents all alone, I am sure he can reach home by himself too. And if you really wanna go, please be practical and limit the number of people you take with you to receive your loved one. Even the person coming will be baffled by the crowd.

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