Or would you rather I ad­dress you as aunty, un­cle, bhaiyya or didi? Soch lo… you might have an an­swer after read­ing this

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - HT City | Time Put - SONAL KALRA Sonal Kalra has no clue how to ad­dress peo­ple. She even asked Bub­bly aunty and Pappu bhaiyya. Could you please help? Mail her at sonal.kalra@hin­dus­tan­times.com, facebook.com/son­al­kalraof­fi­cial. Fol­low on Twit­ter@son­al­kalra

Aunty, which way to the auto stand?” a man cross­ing the road asked me. I wish I could di­rect him to Antarc­tica. You see, I have no prob­lems be­ing ad­dressed so by those who ar­rived on this planet a cou­ple of decades later than I did, but this man?

I’m fairly cer­tain he must have been a bur­den on mother earth al­ready when my mom was merely se­lect­ing her bridal out­fit. I gave him quite a stare, but thank­fully, be­fore I could con­tem­plate go­ing into de­pres­sion for hav­ing be­come ‘aunty’ to mid­dle-aged men, he di­rected his query at a fairly young guy who walked by. “Hello, un­cle! Which way to the auto stand?” Ha, ha… so the prob­lem is with him, not me, I re­alised. But not be­fore I no­ticed the young man mut­ter­ing curses un­der his breath.

Look­ing older than one ac­tu­ally is can be quite a stress but that’s not what I’m talk­ing about this week. I want to draw your at­ten­tion to how ut­terly in­ca­pable most of us In­di­ans are, at know­ing how to ad­dress peo­ple. We fum­ble, we mum­ble or try to form an in­stant rishtedaari with some­one whose face we are see­ing for the first time. Let’s look at some of the com­mon cul­prits who sorely need the ‘how-to-ad­dress-oth­er­strain­ing’.


The ‘Bhaiyya brigade’:

Dood­hwalla is bhaiyya, rick­shaw-puller is bhaiyya, shop sales­man is bhaiyya, hus­band’s best friend is bhaiyya…and the guy your par­ents col­lab­o­rated to give birth to… is also bhaiyya. How come? We be­lieve in universal brother­hood, that’s why. The fe­male equiv­a­lent, ‘didi’ is also quite a killer, and is freely used for half the pop­u­la­tion of the coun­try. I know, I know, you’ll say that ad­dress­ing strangers as didi, bhaiyya, un­cle etc shows re­spect that’s unique to our cul­ture. Only, I’m not quite sure if re­spect is the over­rid­ing emo­tion when we ca­su­ally throw these terms at any­one. Watch Mrs Chad­dha curse and abuse the au­towal­lah left, right and cen­tre while still call­ing him bhaiyya, and you’ll know what I mean.


The ‘Hello’ gang:

These peo­ple must have an imag­i­nary tele­phone at­tached to their mouths, be­cause they ad­dress ev­ery­one as ‘hello’. The other day, I was walk­ing home in my apart­ment com­plex, when a neigh­bour’s son shouted out, ‘Oh, hello!’ I turned back, said ‘hi’ and kept walk­ing. ‘I’m call­ing you’, he said, and ran up to tell me that I had left the car’s park­ing lights on. I then re­alised that he didn’t know how else to ad­dress me. Any­way, ‘hello’ or ‘listen’ is any­day bet­ter than aunty.


We, the ladies:

Last week, I went to a friend’s house and his new do­mes­tic help — a young guy — whom I had never met ear­lier, opened the door. Since my friend wasn’t at home, he called her up and said, ‘Koi ladies aayi hain’. I looked around to see if I had sud­denly sprouted another per­son and turned into two but I was all alone. “Why are you call­ing me ‘ladies’?” I asked. Be­cause ‘you are ladies’, he replied, and the con­ver­sa­tion had to be stopped for fear of it turn­ing weirder. What’s with this fas­ci­na­tion for the plu­ral form? Twice the re­spect, I hope. And talk­ing of re­spect, what about those who ad­dress ev­ery­one as ‘Sir’? The Bri­tish may die as­pir­ing for a knight­hood but in In­dia, ev­ery­one — right from a

Kya kaha? AUNTY??? Beta, tumhe sharam nahi aati?

buddy to a busi­ness col­league — is ‘Sir’. Fas­ci­nat­ing… ain’t it?

I know what you’re think­ing now. That I’ve poked fun at all the ways we ad­dress peo­ple with­out say­ing what the solution is. To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I’d say al­ways ad­dress some­one by their name, if you hap­pen to know what it is. It’s much bet­ter than get­ting into the ‘didi-bhaiyya’ rou­tine.

But if it’s a stranger you have to stop on the road and talk to, I would pre­fer to call out with an ‘ex­cuse me.’ And would bang my head on the wall if I get the favourite In­dian re­ply to that – ‘ex­cused’!

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