My grandparents were like those typical family heads that have a huge brood and their children to rule over—most of their time was spent solving problems, organising meals and making sure everyone was comfortable around them. They had a strong presence in our daily life but as children we were more concerned about other trivial things.
Fast forward many, many years and I find myself suddenly having an actual 'interactive' relationship with them. Their advice on life is now being dished out to me. I find myself talking to them more often, trying to know their personal stories, their perspective on diverse issues, finding out how radically different our worlds are and yet there is a mysterious incredible chord that connects us together.
The generation gap between me and my grandmother is enormous on some issues, one of which has been the level of modesty that needs to be observed in day to day dressing. My grandmother believes that according to our cultural mores women should cover themselves from their ankle to neck. My dilemma is that currently several outfits are worn with a short, Capri-like pants, leaving the ankles and a bit of the calf in plain view. My solution is simple I wear ankle socks. The moment she raises her eyebrows at my pants, I cheekily point out that she couldn't deny the fact that, at least, my ankles have been covered.
I also discovered that grandparents tend to become partners-in-crime as they help you in getting permission from your parents, condoning an act that will get you in trouble, right down to sneaking in a midnight snack in the kitchen; they are willing to do anything for you.
When I first saw my own parents and how they behaved with my nieces and nephews, I was happy but a little astonished as how grandparents nowadays bonded with their grandchildren. They literally become babies for them and I can safely say that they're their best friends as well because they have a relatively smaller family to look after and therefore have more time on hand. This is the major factor that contributes to the cultivation of their relationship with their grandchildren.
Most people from the older generation equate the downfall of good old family values with the fast extinction of the joint family system.
However, when I observe young boys and girls instinctively learning how to take care of their grandparents, or great grandparents, I, one way or another, see different generations coming closer to each other rather than drifting apart. When I see grandparents playing with their grandchildren along with a bad back and advancing arthritis, I know that the bond is being cultivated both ways.