A Visit from my Mother in Law

by Sharell शारेल on June 5, 2008

in Adjusting to India, Family & Friends

My mother in law and me.

My mother in law and me.

My mother-in-law came to visit the other night, to check out our apartment. It was her first visit. She lives in central Mumbai, and doesn’t get out to the suburbs very often.

As happens in India, she only gave us a couple of hours notice about her impending arrival. My husband had to be at work, leaving me to entertain her by myself.

I was terrified. All my fears about not being good enough, and not being Indian, came to the surface. And how was I going to talk to her? She only speaks a few words of English. I get so self conscious when I have to speak Hindi.

The first thing that she did when she arrived was conduct a thorough inspection of the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator. She also wanted to see if I had any Indian cookbooks. Obviously, her first priority was making sure that her son was being properly fed.

However, I felt surprisingly comfortable with her presence. She’s always joking and laughing. She brought me some fish, marinated in homemade masala (spices) and ready to cook. I could even understand most of what she said. Well, at least I thought I could. Sometimes, I have a habit of making it up if I don’t understand!

She was so funny. She told me how she had learned to say “come here” in English. But then a friend asked her, what if you need to tell someone to “go there”. Her solution? She would go there first, then tell them to come!

I can see where my husband gets his happy nature from.

By the time she left. I really was sad to see her go.

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© Copyright 2008 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Deb April 17, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Hillarious, the “come here” business! Funnily, one of my cousins, when she was a little girl, said the same thing years back.


Shalini April 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm

thats so sweet…….


TheGoriWife April 18, 2009 at 6:39 am

This is very nice. I remember having to entertain my mother in law alone the first couple of times – it is stressful! It helps to have a friendly, funny mother in law, though, which it seems you do!


Sharell April 18, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Hey Gori Wife, welcome! It’s great to come across another one of us. :-) You’ve got a really fascinating blog. I love your beautiful wedding photos. I’ll get mine up here eventually too!


FrancesC June 26, 2009 at 5:16 pm

You make me miss my MIL, who passed away nearly 4 years ago. She was quiet and gentle, and always did her best to make me feel like her daughter rather than her daughter-in-law. We always spoke in Hindi because she was very shy about her (quite good) English, and very understanding about my mistakes!

I love your blog – I’ve sometimes wondered if I should write one, but the field of foreign bahus living in India is pretty well covered, it seems! (I’ve been in Delhi for most of the 16 years we’ve been married.)


Sharell June 28, 2009 at 12:39 am

Frances, that’s so sad about your mother in law. You really must miss her. She sounds like a wonderful, warm person. An absolute treasure. My mother in law makes me feel very included too, and is always asking my husband to bring me to visit. She loves having me around. I just wish I could talk with her properly though. I’m so limited by my Hindi, which doesn’t yet extend to in depth conversations. I’m so inspired to hear that you spoke to your MIL in Hindi, AND that you’ve been living in Delhi for so long! I don’t think there can ever be enough blogs in this field because everyone has such different experiences. :-)


Suhani December 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Sharell,ur MIL seems to be a jovial,sweet & kind person! :) U r lukin beautiful in da red sari!Ur MIL luks lyk da typical Indian “saas”,wid badi si bindi,chubby-chubby & really sweet & cute,almost mother-like!My MIL is also lyk dat.My MIL also dus dat,da first place wer she goes after cumin home is da kitchen.If v tell her 2 rest 4 smtym in da bedroom,den enter da kitchen,she’ll say da kitchen is da home for every women & da kind of peace a woman gets in da kitchen,she dusnt ghet anywer in da houz.Den wen I cook,she keeps a check on me,occasionally giving tips how 2 make dis or dat.I know,till date(I hav bn married for almost 9 yrs)wenevr I serve da food,afterwards wen I clean da kitchen,she observes me-wedr I’m doin all da duties (a loving wife is supossed 2 do) properly or not!Not da t she dusnt trust me,but hota hai,she is worried bout her son & wants 2 ensure dat he is well kept & mainly,well fed in her absence.


paul January 20, 2010 at 8:36 pm

opps.. its iss so hilarious to read this blog


Sharell January 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Imagine how hilarious my actual life is then! :-D


Laura June 29, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I wish i had mother in law like that :)


Sharell June 30, 2011 at 2:40 am

Yeah, she’s a real gem. So simple, caring and funny!


Reetesh Khare July 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I am a big fan of you dear Sharrel…every gesture of you is so appreciable. Given an opporuntiy, i would tell indian ladies to learn a few tips from you as to how to gel well with your in laws and make a great family. You are so caring, loving and humane. Though i write in words here, i have no way to pour out my feelings better.


Sharell July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Hi Reetesh, thank you so much for all your kind words. They are much appreciated. I try my best, I guess that’s all I can do. :-) Welcome to the blog anyway, I hope you’ll keep reading and enjoying.


luxaterc August 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I recall mine with my partner parents (white) landed in our messy appartment and there first headhunt was if all there are any liquor bottles in garbage .Although it is often a wide difference of how we live in 2 different worlds with so much cultural difference still what holds us together is bonding and comfort.

I am sure you enjoyed her presence.



Vartika August 14, 2013 at 11:24 pm

The ‘come here’ thing :) your mother in law is intelligent and funny !


jay August 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Oh it made me cry with joy to read this, Sharell. I think her inspecting things, was really see if you needed anything so she could go out and buy it for you.
Your mom in law looks like a jolly happy lady. And you are a very, very, very lovely person. A true GEM. So I’m sure you both will give each other plenty of reasons to smile.


Sharell शारेल August 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Thank you so much! Yes, my mother in law is indeed jolly and happy, and laughs a lot. She’s been wonderful to me… and I’m still saying that five years down the track! :-)


jay September 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Sharell, first time read ur blog and I feel ur thoughts of binding a family. Its not blog but ur emotions which is pouring in d form of blog…..keep it up


Lekha September 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hi Sharell,
You look lovely in that sari and both of you share a great chemistry. The way your MIL is standing at ease next to you says everything about how she must love you. I chanced upon your blog this morning and am enjoying all your posts. You have an open mind and literally an open life. Good going.


Sharell शारेल September 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Welcome, Lekha. I’m so blessed, my mother in law and I do love each other. My husband and I are taking his parents to Udaipur later this month for a holiday. I’m looking forward to it and will write about it.


Sundari September 20, 2013 at 1:37 am

Hi, I’m Indian married to an Indian who was brought up and living abroad. He bumped into your art of begging… he is enjoying and I laughed so much reading this one… go-to-go have to read rest of your articles :-p… Keep writing!


OC May 10, 2014 at 2:19 am

Great stories. I’m Mexican American and am meeting my mother in law in two days for the first time. She’s a Sikh Indian but has lived in the United States for 25 years and is a professional business woman. She has assimilated somewhat to the American Culture. So my questions are: how do I properly greet her (hug, kiss, hand shake), what should I wear, what can i expect from an educated Indian woman, should i call her by her first name or Mrs or auntie? I am meeting her at her house for tea. Any help would be appreciated.


Sharell शारेल May 10, 2014 at 11:17 am

Your husband would be the best person to advise you on that, as he knows her best! It’s really difficult to give you accurate advice without knowing the person. As a general guide, I wouldn’t call her by her first name or kiss her — but I have no idea what she’s like.


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