(Needless to say, this is a post-in-progress)
– Quickly get used to the idea that someone else will now be addressing your mother as “mom”, but don’t feel obliged to reciprocate in kind. No new “papas” and “mummies” for me; the existing ones are hard enough to deal with. As my wife says, what you call your in-laws should be a personal choice - do the “mummy-daddy” thing only if it’s spontaneous. (What I can’t quite figure out: she’s been on great terms with my mother for the better part of four years now, and she’s been calling her “aunty” all that time, so how is this shift “spontaneous”?)
The whole thing does take some getting used to. A recent phone conversation:
Jai: Hey, what is up.
Abhilasha: Hi, I’m out with mummy, will call you in a while.
J (confused): Your mom’s come over?
A: Um, no. I’m with your mom.
J: You know, I’m sure this is all very sweet and good-intentioned on some level, but when you refer to my mother as “mummy” it makes me feel like I’ve grown a new sister.
A: Well, wouldn’t that be in keeping with the tradition of incest in your family?
This last remark must be explained. There are lots of second-cousin marriages in my extended family (because apparently no one could find a suitable or willing match in the outside world). This accounts for all the looniness in the current generation. I’m the only sane one, which should tell you something.
– If you’ve been having nightmares because you’re spending too much time studying Chapter 10 of From Hell (you know, the part that has Jack the Ripper alone with Mary Jane Kelly’s corpse in her room late at night) and the wife gives you a Hanuman Chaalisa to ward off evil thoughts, DO NOT exclaim, “Cool! The cover of this book has a monkey tearing his chest open to expose a bloodied heart!” It’s in bad taste. Or something.
– With the aforementioned Chaalisa under the pillow, you may still continue reading The God Delusion. No conflict – it’s like that last scene in Inherit the Wind, with Clarence Darrow balancing the Bible in one hand and the Origin of Species in the other.
– Most important tip of all: separate toilets. Always.