Monday, June 6, 2011

Meet the Cockers!

I'm sure everyone remembers their first time. The fluttering in your stomach, the slightly parched feeling, a slight nervous perspiration...ok perhaps not that extreme for everyone.  I had a really good first time, but I'm sure everyone has their own versions. For everyone who's had to meet their significant other's family, the first meeting can always be a bit daunting. 

The Cockers are as typical or not-typical as most families - squabbling, laughing, loving, yelling, sulking and getting along. Rather territorial by nature, they are welcoming of new comers, but like most other families there are the ritual first meetings or visits with potential new entrants into the fold, which can be stressful for the new entrant. And it's not because they are intimidating...well maybe Mr. Cocker is, but the rest of the Cockers set a litmus test of a different kind. As Sid found out when he first met them.

Sid gets along famously with the Cockers and always has, spending a lot of time with them before getting married and then being forced to spend even more time with them after being married since the Cockers tend to do a lot together! His first meetings/visit were possibly not stressful in the typical sense, but still rather entertaining for me.  The first meeting with Mrs. Cocker was his first interaction with the family, and was a lunch with her and me at 'Basil and Thyme' at Santushti. It was a very uneventful lunch where we all sipped our soup calmly and made polite conversation over the warm rolls and butter. The main course got a little more chatty, but Mrs Cocker who is usually very shy initially, quietly plied Sid with bread and water and listened to our trivial banter. Sid probably doesn't even remember the lunch, but if he did mull over it today he would realize that there were alarming signals at the time. The first was the actual meeting place, Santushti and Basil and Thyme are Mrs. Cocker's favourite places in Delhi and her frequent visits concentrate on these two areas primarily, Sid being roped in for several of these visits eventually where he's probably now eaten everything on the menu at B&T and also been exposed to the next alarming trend - Mrs. Cocker's retail addiction. Being around the beautiful things at Santushti is her version of a candy shop and Sid must politely watch in alarm while she buys everything in sight, almost in panic when he's asked for his opinion or if he's told that the purchase is for our home.  The third trend was to do with food, where her silent but polite offering of the food at the table was an omen of darker things to come.

The elder of the Cocker siblings, let's call her S.Cocker or Socker (just easier) met Sid at a family wedding where I brought him along so he could meet her of course. It was just after she had her son and Sid was introduced to a bedecked Socker with a strange contraption strapped to her chest, a chubby sleeping baby hanging in its midst. After Socker beamed at him and said hello (she is a bit of a beamer), I was called away for a few minutes to help with something at the wedding.  After leaving them together, Sid's eyes betraying panic and Socker's beam betraying more panic, I returned anon and found them looking much the same, beaming and politely panicked. The conversation had been limited,the chubby baby providing some fodder for a few stunted lines.


"So, he sleeps a lot", asked Sid.
"Yup, babies do that", said Socker.
"Is that comfortable?", asked Sid, referring to the sleeping baby's position in the sling.
"I guess so, he sleeps a lot in the sling" answered Socker.
"Yup, I heard babies do sleep a lot", said Sid, obviously to impress her with his new found knowledge.
After realizing they had come full circle they glanced furtively around for me and as I hurried back I saw instant relief. That meeting wasn't really indicative of their later relationship, but there were a few signals of things to come. The first, that the strapping of said child was symbolic of how Socker would be in the future, always part of a package, joined at the hip to her children, and the second that their conversation though silly and short was indicative of how all their future conversations would be - silly but long. Scheming about ways to embarass my brother-in-law on Facebook or poking fun at me or each other are dominant themes.

The first meeting with Mr. Cocker took place on Sid's visit to Bangalore to stay at my house. He was going to be exposed to all the Cockers at once, but by then he had already met Mrs. Cocker and Socker. After arriving on a Kingfisher flight with me, where he won a Kingfisher calendar just for sitting in the lucky seat (or perhaps for flirting with the air hostess while I slept on his shoulder - we'll never really know the truth, but you know where my suspicions lie) we were greeted by Mr. Cocker, who can also be a bit quiet at first meetings. As we drove home, conversation ran low and Sid and I filled the gaps with usual silly banter, interspersed with Mr. Cocker pointing out rather strange landmarks or maybe it was just Hosur Road that doesn't have any real stunning landmarks.  "That is the Honda showroom...and that is the Volkswagen showroom and that is the Audi showroom, etc, etc". Polite questions about prices of cars in Karnataka ensued until we got home. The next few days were a series of conversations about air crafts, single malts, hotels and more. Mr. Cocker, who used to refer to Sid as chicken-pox boy (he got chicken pox early on in our relationship - who gets chicken pox at this age, was Mr. Cocker's indignant reaction) did his own subtle grilling and his shift from "Chicken pox boy" to socially acceptable "Siddharth" meant Sid must have answered adequately.


Of course that visit was also his first one exposed to all the Cockers at the same time. From being plied with food (some of it alarming since he can't stand touching food with his hands and fried fish or crabs aren't agreeable with a knife and fork) till he cried for mercy to allowing his close cropped hair to be ruffled by the chubby baby while a beaming Socker said, "He likes your head". Sid agreed, "Yup babies do", further exposing his absolute treasure trove of information about infant habits.

Things have of course changed much since then and yet stayed the same. I still get calls in panic from Sid, "She's made me 4 kilos of laal maas after I told her I like it" or "She's buying us a sideboard and asking me if I like it, what do I say"? Loud laughter on the phone with Socker has him showing off his knowledge not just about infants but graduating to 5 year olds (the familiar, "Yup, they do like that" featuring often in the conversation).  Observing Mr Cocker's car but never risking driving it is an acceptable attitude.  Yup, he may not have read the signs early on, but now that he's lumped with them, he's coping with the Cockers admirably well.

I'm sure everyone has interesting first meetings, how was your experience with your "Cockers"?

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