When Beti becomes Aunty, When Uncle becomes Bhaiyya

Age 15: I used to visit the vegetable market with my Mom. The vendors would call my Mom 'Bhabhi' and call me 'Beti'. How they would refer to a 20-something purchasing vegetables 'Madam'. How I wanted to grow up soon and be called 'Madam'! There was something magical about it then! I would call all vendors 'Uncle'.

Age 25: I visited the market with my Mom, who had now become 'Aunty' and I was finally 'Madam'. How I would look at newly wed young women wearing mangalsutra, beautiful dresses and lovely bangles who would come by themselves to buy the veggies. The vendors would call them 'Bhabhi' How I wondered what it would be like to shop alone and be referred to as 'Bhabhi'! The vendors became 'Bhaiyya' to me!

Age 30: I got married. My Mom was still 'Aunty'. I stayed 'Madam' and vendors stayed 'Bhaiyya'. After a year or so, whenever I was dressed in jeans and T shirts, I was 'Madam'; Salwar kameez made me 'Bhabhi'. Only the watchmen and househelps always called me 'Bhabhi'. However, little kids in the building of my sasural started calling me Aunty. I surprising felt good the first time a little kid called me Aunty. I would always wonder how I would respond to it for the first time. It was generally okay. An overdose of it felt weird though. "Aunty mat kaho na" made so much sense. At times I was happy to be seen as a grown up, at times it felt weird. But then, one day, my neighbour who was perhaps in her final year of college called me 'Aunty'. That was difficult to digest. So basically is it marriage that officially makes you 'Aunty'?

Age 34: I am permanently 'Bhabhi' / 'Aunty' for all the vendors depending on their age. I don't mind it at all now. It feels great to know how I have entered the middle age gradually. A few days ago I went shopping with my Mom. As we bargained, the vendor referred to me as 'Bhabhi' for the first time in front of my Mom while she was called 'Aunty'! That was an amazing feeling... I am glad to shop with my Mom all these years graduating from Beti to Bhabhi.
Surprisingly, the vegetable vendors stay 'Bhaiyya' for a very long phase... When we are Madam, Bhabhi and even Aunty. I guess it is the effect of having vegetables all around!

I look forward to the day when I go shopping with my Mom, when she would be referred as Maaji and I would be Aunty. And then, if I have a daughter, she would be called Beta!

So when was the first time you were called Aunty and how did you feel? Any interesting incidents?


  1. You call them incidents? They used to be like barbs when they started few years ago till I gradually stopped paying attention to them! As the so called 'young' say, Chill!

  2. @Uma - hehe, trust me when we grow much old and people call us Maaji, Aunty will seem like a compliment!

  3. For some reason, I have always been called as "Bhaiya" most of the time but I get your point. Personally, I think men are not affected by the transition from "Bhaiya" to "Uncle" as much as ladies are. The gender differences in reacting to this is quite natural.

  4. I remember wondering when I was younger if I should use respectful pre or suffixes for someone quite close to my age - it was always a dilemma. I felt most comfortable with those who didn't seem to mind either way. So I take a page out of their book now.

  5. Heyyy hahah!! you are bringing a wave of nostalgia! ;) When I was a teenager I used to call my uncles friends who were 25 then as uncles. They used to crib to my uncle, hey she is calling us UNCLE et al.

    And I thought big deal - am 13, they are TWENTY FIVE, man when will thy realize!

    Later, I had the first experience, when walking to my moms place from my house post-marriage. A little boy playing cricket invatiably said - 'Aunty, ball please...' I was not shocked, I smiled and threw the ball back realizing life had come full circle!! :)

    Love your blog, following it now!!

    Do stop by my blog!! I'd love your visits & comments!


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