September 12, 2009

Ji, Aunty-ji !

Aunt : the sister of one's father or mother. Or the wife of one's uncle.
(Origin - Old French ante )

Unless, of course, one lives in India. When every girl goes through a weird metamorphosis the minute she ties the knot and even before she steps out of the marriage hall. She is now Aunty to every one under 20.
Hey, so what if the addressor is all of 19 ? Our glowing bride is now a very respectable Aunty... even if she was thought to be the hottest babe in town just yesterday!

The silk saris dripping zari and that new tag of Mrs. before her name brings with it heavy burdens. Not the least of them being this Aunty-fication!
Not 'Aunt X' or 'Aunt Y', but a very universal Aunty to the young.
To the others, she is a stop-gap bhabhi (sister-in-law). No matter that she may have never seen them before nor likely to ever again, and irrespective of a decided lack of any family connections either by blood or marriage. She is still their bhabhi; her mangalsutra/ sindoor/ wedding-band has seen to that!

Then the first heir to the family genes appears. Now our Aunty-to-the-young takes on wider responsibilities in more ways than one. She is now Aunty to the world in general, age no bar. Even 40-somethings take the liberty of "aunty"-ing her. The young newly marrieds call her Aunty. So does the balding man in the provision store . As do all the children in her building, road and city. How very respectful!
And demoralising.
Not to mention, restricting!

Of late my son has taken to this new form of repressal :"Mama, don't be such an Aunty!"
Aunties, apparently, aren't fun people. Gulp!


  1. Funny! I vividly remember the day I became an aunty. But I hope I never will turn into the gossiping, finger-pointing, marriage-obsessed, jewelry-and-sari craving creature that naturally the younger generation finds such a bore! No Sunita, you and I are far too cool! Right??

  2. But naturally, Kamini! ;D
    I just wish I could convince my teenaged son of that, though.
    According to him, anyone over 25 is over the hill and doesnt know what fun is!

  3. hmmm, only fun? Mine thinks that I, at least know NOTHING, fun or not.

    Love least they refer to you as something....Aunty I think may be better than a non-entity...

  4. Lisa, my teenager knows which hand doles out the pocket-money. And he has had experience that it is a very temperamental and volatile hand. So... ;D
    The worst, the absolute worst, is when some 50-something guy with a huge paunch and thinning hair calls you "aunty" ..... aaaargh!

  5. The other day I was aghast hearing the vegetable vendor call my  year old wife aunty. I told him that she wasn't that old to be called aunty and asked him to call her Chechy (elder sister) instead. Some time back a young nubile thing called me uncle and I told her not to uncle me as I was only  and with not a shred of grey. It was when one of my cousin nephews addressed me as uncle, which was his right, that I realised that I had moved one generation up and resigned to the fact that I have become uncle to all my son's girl friends. Now I cherish the Chettan(elder brother) calls of all my 35 to 15 year old cousin brothers, when even the twenty something's call me uncle.

  6. Nebu, this seems to be a pan-India trend. A very depressing and demoralising one.
    The other day The Teen at home was watching MTV and I passed a casual comment (not derogatory or anything) about the rap star who was performing. He was scandalised that I could even presume to know anything about music... that apparently is the domain of his generation!

  7. you are lucky sunita,my 14 yr old tells me sometimes-dont be such a granma!!!i guess i can live with 'aunty' in this case!

  8. Meera, so they're skipping generations now!
    You do need to keep in mind that "aunty" has too many nasty connotations before you sit back, content with that name.

  9. Sunita, the worst is when they call you a Nanny!

  10. Helen, hold on! I'm just slowly getting used to the "Aunty" tag. My systems may go into shock if it hears the "N" word!

  11. Gosh, all of you are way off track !!! At the risk of sounding whatever, please keep in mind that for a LOT of teenagers, an aunty is definitely a point of attraction !!!!! Right Nebuchettan ? Be honest and say no to that !

    So dont get demoralised, just bask in the new glow of a desirable aunty !

  12. Shades of Mrs. Robinson!
    Ashvin, I don't think the fact or level of desirability is being questioned. Its mainly the classification as an 'aunty' that is responsible for the high levels of depression among urban women. Or at least, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it!;D
    In any case, I think to teenaged hormones anything that can move is probably interesting!
    BTW, were you refering to Nebu who visits Chai 'n Spice? I sense an interesting story here. BTW, do you blog, Ashvin?

  13. Yes to question 1 and not yet to question 2.....


  14. I wish you would start a blog, Ashvin. I have a feeeling it'll be really interesting :)

  15. Hi Sunita, I'm another Sunita who likes to check in on your blog once in a while... :)

    A few years back, we were at a birthday party and were introduced to a couple who was either the same age-group as us or maybe a bit older. We were both shocked to hear them call us "Aunty" and "Uncle"...!!??!! I know we're not spring chickens but the guy had gray hair, and was obviously older than me (if not my husband too)....and he was calling me Aunty!!! What's up with that??? Don't people have any sensibility of what's appropriate any more??? ;D

  16. From one Sunita to the other : hi! :)
    Ouch! That must've really hurt! I think that guy was really delusional. Or maybe he thought he was being respectful ... how insulting, though.

  17. Oh we have much more to look forward to. There comes an age, when your kid is in college, they call you mata-ji.

    SOS! (12 years to d-day!)

  18. Seriously?! GB, I think I would pass out if they dare! Incidentally, my son is in college now, so thanks for the tip.

  19. Hey girls,

    Ashwin is right - from a purely male perspective.

    Do an Image Search for "Aunty Ji" and see what comes up. So it might actually be a veiled insult/proposition. When some joker calls you aunty ji, run for your dignity.

    (I know I am stereotyping but so are those who call you aunty ji...right?)

    Warm Regards,

  20. PS: Forgot to say that I liked your posts - chai-n-spice:)

  21. OMG, Shafali, the mind boggles!
    And, thanks, I'm so glad you liked my posts :)