So here’s the scenario:
It’s a sunny Sunday and you’re chilling at your parents’ place. You’ve got the following agenda:
a) Sip your latte
b) Take a nap
c) Make the rest up as you go along
Suddenly, the doorbell rings.
At first, you relax, thinking it’s not your problem. It’s not YOUR house. There’s a maid to open the door and your parents to entertain whoever it is and there is no pile of underwear lying around on the floor that you need to pick up double quick. All good.
Or so you thought until you peeked into the drawing room. It’s an Aunty. And she’s already seen you. Before you can say “oh, F*ck”, you are summoned into the room for a little tete-a-tete.
Your irritation morphs into incredulous stammering as the Aunty slams judgement upon judgement on your hairstyle, your color choices, your profession, your CPI, your partner, your eating habits, your complexion, your laptop, your financial sense, your accent, your speaking style, your worthiness for marriage, your Indian-ness quotient, your batting average and other stuff that you never thought was up for judgement. You can’t get a word in. She’s like a ripping storm. She just won’t stop. She just won’t lose. And you’re caught in the middle of it. So what do you do?
You open up your Wi-Fi enabled phone that she thinks is overpriced and check out this page. Look at it. Applaud the funky graphics. And read the following tips from an old pro.
Tip #1: Nod a lot
Aunties love nodding. It shows proper respect. It demonstrates proper sanskaars. It makes her feel as though someone is listening.
“Bullshit”, I hear you saying. “I am a principled person and I cannot take it upon my conscience to fake agreement with statements that thrust oppressively patriarchal modes of thought and behavior upon our society”. Well yeah, I’m not telling you to fake agreement.
The good thing about Aunties is that they’re too busy judging to look at you closely. So you COULD, in principle, nod off, without her ever thinking of you as anything other than a nice Indian person. I think you’ve realized what I’m getting at here. Talking to an Aunty can be a good way to get rid of the jet lag.
There are many alternatives to this. I personally use an advanced technique which involves thinking about and repeatedly saying “ohhhh yeeeaaah” with a silly smile on my face. It works really well and brings me to my second tip.
Tip #2: Use THAT expression
There is one facial expression which will put you into any aunty’s good books immediately (which means you get to leave early). Aunties love this expression because it conveys the feelings of tip 1 graphically, which is much better than verbally. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that. So what is this expression? You’re about to find out. Watch carefully now:
Couple this with a nod for maximum effect.
Tip #3: Keep your mouth shut
It works like this. Every minute you open your mouth makes the Aunty stay five minutes longer. Yours Truly once made the capital mistake of complimenting an Aunty on her cooking and was duly treated to a long, involved and highly esoteric lecture on precisely how her aloo-gobhi stir technique affected her son’s psychology to the good.
Unless you happen to be a psychology major, you DON’T want to hear that junk. So keep the compliments and opinions to yourself. Confine your talking to answering direct questions and saying random stuff about the weather.
Tip #4: Lose the handshake
The correct way to greet an Aunty is to fold your hands and say the following in a slow, solemn voice:
Respected Aunty, I bow to the divinity in you.
Of course, you could say it in Hindi like this:
The handshake is western crap. Don’t do it. Also, unless you want a lecture on how rootless the Indian youth is, you should wipe that smirk and put it in your back pocket right about now. I said SOLEMN.
Tip #5: Be Modest
Nothing irritates an aunty so much as a person trying to take credit for their own achievements. The best policy here is to credit everyone except yourself. Think of it as accepting an Oscar. You thank your family, your friends, your SO, your gardener, your neighbors, your driver, your computer, your pen, your pet cockroach, your favorite political party, your government, all the aashirwaad, that aloo-gobhi recipe and Ronald Reagan for good measure.
You did nothing. They made you do it. Say that and she’ll pretend to believe you and she’ll leave.
Modest people are boring.
Okay. You’re now ready.
The place is here.
The time is now.
Flatten your hair, put on a pleasant expression and take that Aunty head on. Go, matey!