Friday, August 08, 2014


Times have changed.

"Aunty" is now a look, as opposed to a family status.

Aunty is a typical Indian concept as opposed to say, Aunt. When I was a child, it was not considered polite to call ladies who were your mother's age, as Mrs So-and-So, or even So-and-so-Tai.   We always called them Aunty, Kaku or Mavshi , the last two referring to Marathi nomenclature for paternal and maternal aunts.  Many of my non-marathi friends called my mother Aunty.  I often suspect, that those of us who grew up with a  no nonsense conservative approach to personal beautification , kind of seamlessly slid into Aunty states as we grew up. 

Being an Aunty simply implied that you had transcended a generation.

However, it has occurred to me that even then,  calling someone a "Kakubai" had certain connotations, that were never applicable to , say Maavshi or Aunty.  A girl, who was gung ho about two tight plaits, a sari draped over both shoulders, never wore skirts, and, as they say "walked watching her nose in front of her" was often called a Kakubai. Strangely, I do not recall any corresponding nomenclatures like Kaka being used for fellows with similar inclinations.

Clearly , we never thought there was anything demeaning in being called an Aunty. It was an acknowledgement of our status.

Aunties evolved just like everyone else, modern aunties took to salwar kurtas and jeans, sometimes to the consternation of some who shook their heads to the chorus of "We didn't have such stuff in our time!

Thanks to things like online shopping, one gets to read reviews of items one is interested in buying.

Looking through some clothes items as a present for someone much younger than me  ( I am ancient),  I looked through a review posted by someone, and was aghast to read, that although it looked nice on screen, the reviewer lady felt, that in actuality, based on the material and the fit it gave her an "aunty" look.

Her words, not mine.

I mean, she could have said, she was disappointed in the fit, and felt cheated in the material, and the color and so on.

 Thanks to globalization , instant access to visuals and entertainment, and consequent upgradation in the need and value of advertisements in commercial space,  today's women grow up feeling that they must keep up with trends. 

As a corollary, those who defy these trends, in dress, behavior and sometimes, even attitude, are today dubbed "Aunties".

So.  (The urge to call Aunty a "state of mind" is very much there.  But that phrase has been misused by powerful folks. So I desist.)

Someone who haggles and bargains with a vendor while buying something quoted at a completely unjustified astronomical price, is an Aunty.

Someone who wears sarees the old traditional way, and thinks nothing of hitching it up, displaying mismatched petticoats,  to cross potholed roads in the rain, is an Aunty.  Tucking in the palloo at the waist , as part of your normal way of dressing, to convert into a handsfree environment, is considered the height of Aunty-ism.

Someone whose kurtas still pine to reach the knees, and whose dupattas encircle her above the waist is an Aunty.

Someone whose eyebrows rise at the sight of a young girl wearing a bare midriff top on jeans, or a  extra-loose-falling pair of trousers on a chap , and tells them so,  is an Aunty.

Someone who accompanies you to the doctor and thinks nothing of asking hitherto embarassing questions  is an Aunty.

Someone who thinks paying  one hundred rupees for a masala dosa , and a similar amount for a tolerable coffee in a fancy cup in a five star hotel,   is a complete ripoff ,  and says so, is an Aunty.

Someone who still cringes at swear words and hitherto prohibited abusive words being used loudly in public places as part of so called normal conversations , and tells someone off, is an Aunty.

Someone, who completely ignores the massively matching jewellery in shops, and insists on wearing, possibly in addition to her traditional mangalsutra, assorted other traditional  mismatched items, to honor someone who gifted them, and moves around completely obvious to everyone else, is an Aunty.

And someone, who expresses shock, and is aghast at so called beauties on television and even otherwise, wearing sarees way below the waist,  palloos that hang to one side like shoulder bag straps, with blouses that have only sleeves so-to-speak, and speaks out about it, is an Aunty.

There is an entire generation that gives inordinate importance to not looking their age.  They think nothing of subjecting their bodies to pharamcological excesses, within and without, to achieve their goals.

The Auntyfication has been a phenomenon that has its roots in these folks.   And the rise in psychological consulting, family conflicts, support centres etc for young folks, is a direct consequence of such pressures.

Strangely, Aunties work, earn livings for families, multitask,  and often are there when blame for something is apportioned.

 "Uncles"  have never evolved the way Aunties have.  I have never heard a fellow say that such and such a outfit/shirt/trouser makes me look like an "Uncle".   A pronouncement from an "Uncle", in a family situation is treated akin to law.   

And so the Auntification continues. In politics, too. Even in Parliament, where recently Uncle MP's gave speeches on how Aunty MPs should dress, and NO ONE raised a word in protest.

Thankfully, I have transcended the Aunty stage.  Am well on my way to an Aji (Grandmother) stage. At least mentally. 

Most vegetable vendors call me that .  Linking Road, Bandra stall owners don't blink an eye when I demand outrageous bargain prices, and most often, give in.  The traffic cop outside at our seven road intersection, doesn't rush me as  I cross the road with my bags of veggies. The same cannot be said of Uncles  and boys in fancy cars and bikes respectively, accelerating in place, in high rpm's intolerance,  at the red signal.

Maybe, as is the current trend, we should demand reservation . For Aunties ?







  1. Ha, ha, ha...enjoyed reading your take on the "auntyji" mindset. Would also like to add the other aspect of the "aunty" title. If you have a kid or two at tow, irrespective of the fact that you are younger, the same age, or just a couple of years older than the person addressing you, you get labelled "aunty"!

    1. RGB, yes, I should have included that too ! Thank you for mentioning it !

  2. We have Mams and Pachis in CSB Konkani.

    1. Amit, yes. I think traditionally most communities follow this custom....

  3. Ah yes. I too am in my 60s and high waisted cotton underwear here are called granny panties. I am a grandmother now and thankful that I can be sensible because being wise does come with age. Thank you for writing about what your world space is doing with wise women of a aji title!

    1. Hi Jill, thank you for your comment, and welcome to my blog. Delighted to have you visit !