Family Gene-ius: Quality Time

Family Gene-ius: Quality Time

Shreya Shankar

A day in the city turns out to be much more.

ImageWhen I was ten and living in Singapore, I went through a "family outing" phase. Every weekend for six months, I would plan some kind of outing for my family, but none of them ever came to fruition.

As a 10-year old, I scoffed at the idea that my brother had to stay home on the weekends to do homework. What was so hard about high school? Dad, wasn't the reason you went to work from 8 a.m-6 p.m. Monday through Friday so you could have the weekend off? Mom, just how many Indian Women's Association of Singapore meetings did you have? I seemed to be the only person who had any free time or desire to spend time together outside of our humble abode.

Since we moved back, family outings are still rare, but 17-year old me doesn't seem to mind as much. When I got a call from my brother telling me he was in the Red Bull Soapbox Derby in San Francisco on Oct. 18, I told him I thought it was really cool, and that was that. I didn't even consider that my mom and dad would inform me that we were going to be traveling up to San Francisco to see him.

Now, what did 10-year old Natasha think? I'm not sure. She was too busy jumping with joy at the prospect of finally having a family outing.

17-year old Natasha? Not so much. "So let me get this straight. You want me to take a full day when I could be floatbuilding or working on college apps to watch Niket in a go-kart race?"

But indeed, the Desai family was off to San Francisco.

I had everything I needed to make the most of my day in the city. My phone was fully charged to field any texts from my fellow class officers at floatbuilding and "Jane Eyre" was safely nestled in my purse. This was going to be the most productive 40 minutes (my dad drives fast, okay?) of my life.

And then it happened — I fell asleep during the ride. My plan had failed. I entered the city groggy and grumpy, until a burst of adrenaline went through me as we began exploring "Pit Row" where all the go-karts were displayed. I approached tent #9 and caught a glimpse of my brother and his fraternity brothers who had built their bobsled kart in a mere six hours (gotta love that Cal workload). It looked unstable and I feared for my brother's life as the driver.

For the next five hours, I found myself on a huge lawn at Dolores Park with over 100,000 people. Every time I pulled out "Jane Eyre"to get a few pages in, I got distracted and stopped reading. When the races started, my parents and I howled with laughter at each kart's rocky journey down the street. Donuts turn over, a frying pan fall apart, and a Rubiks cube stopped completely. When my brother's team was up, I turned to everyone around me. "You guys, cheer really loud — that's my brother driving!" I watched with pride as my brother began his trek. Two seconds later, I was covering my eyes as the big screen projected his entire go-kart flipping over as he lost control on one of the turns. I turned back to the people around me. "Yeah… I don't actually know who that guy is…"

I got absolutely nothing done related to school that day, but just before the awards ceremony, I realized that it didn't matter. I run my life on such a tight schedule because I have so many things to do that I forget that simple things like spending time with my family or taking a day to just relax and forget about all my obligations is really healthy. When I saw my brother after the race and I ran up to him to ask him if he was okay, he responded with a grin, showed us a few minor scratches, and engulfed me in a hug. I'm sorry, Jane Eyre, but I wasn't even thinking about you at that moment. On the way back to the car, I spent time actually looking at what I was walking by: the architecture styles, graffiti on the walls, the tiny parking spaces… everything that truly makes San Francisco. I was finally taking time out to smell the roses, and boy, did they smell good.

After seven long years of waiting, 10-year old Natasha finally got her wish.