KOLKATA, India – Sonu Mitra, 22, visited India for the first time in 12 years this week. While his family is happy he turned out fair skinned, they wish he was a little bit taller.
Mr. Mitra traveled to Kolkata, India after spending a post-graduate summer in the Poconos. Earlier in the year he had graduated from Northwestern with a useless BA in Economics. Free from the burdens of compulsory education he felt it was time to re-connect with his family.
Said Mr. Mitra,”I’d been in school for 16 years straight. And it was all required, including college because I would have been disowned if I didn’t get my degree. I hadn’t seen my family since I was 10 so it was definitely time to see everyone again.”
“It started off great,” continued Mr. Mitra. “I flew Air India so I got some nice airplane replicas of Indian food. The flight flew straight from New York to Delhi so I literally walked off the US and onto India. Then I took an Indian Airlines flight from Mumbai to Cal – I mean Kolkata. We used to call Kolkata ‘Cal’ for short when I was a kid, that’s just stuck in my head.”
The airport experience built up the excitement leading to the family reunion: “What’s really cool is that you actually walk off the plane onto the tarmac. So as you’re heading toward the plane’s exit, it feels more and more humid until you get to the door and then you get smacked in the face by heat and humidity. And the smell is totally India, a combination of fuel and cow dung. Then you walk off the plane down these metal stairs and onto a bus, which drives you to the terminal. I got my bags and went through immigration and customs, watching the customs guy’s hands like a hawk because my mom had one of her bras stolen once.”
And then the cherished moment came, when he walked out of customs and into a sweaty throng of humanity. His family, being smart, waited near the exit instead of being those people who crowd right around doors to customs and get stuck. “It was great – my grandmother came, a bunch of aunts and uncles came, along with a few cousins and some family friends. They don’t do group hugs so I had to take turns hugging every single person there. I even hugged a stranger, thinking he was someone from my family I didn’t remember.”
“After the first hugs were done, I noticed them all looking at me, up and down, and then giving silent glances to each other. I thought my fly was open so I took a quick peak down – but it wasn’t open. Then my uncle said, It’s good that he’s fair but it would’ve been good if he was a little bit taller. My grandmother nodded at him and they all looked around at each other in agreement. It’s like I wasn’t even there.”
“Yes, we are very happy that he is farsha [ed: light skinned],” said his Uncle, Boro Meso.”Most of our family is on the darker side so he must have gotten it from his father. But it would have been better if he was just a little taller. Then he would have been perfect. But we still love him.”
His cousin Gulgul was perplexed. “Everyone in America is tall. I thought they must eat better food and then he would be very nice and tall. But secretly I’m happy that I’m not the shortest guy in the family anymore.”
Sonu’s grandmother was not available for comment.