Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Indian aunty detective strikes again


I had yet another unfortunate experience with my nosy neighborhood Indian aunty....
GOD! WILL SHE EVER LEAVE ME ALONE?!?!

We were heading out to celebrate Puthandu and I was all dressed up. All over the city there were Vaisakhi celebrations going on because both festivals fell on the same day. The Puthandu party was in the evening and it was a bit of a drive to get there, so I decided to pick up a snack for Maya to eat so she wouldn't have a meltdown in the car. I decided just to get the quickest thing....which turned out to be not so quick, due to the interrogation from the aunty!

I was just praying that it would be her day off, but of course she was working. Out of the corner she turned, like the shark from Jaws. I could literally hear the "Jaws" music playing in my head. She looked me up and down, as I was dressed in full-on Indian attire with symbols of marriage.

I decided to keep it professional. I was strictly there for a pick-up. I did not have endless hours to be interrogated, like some criminal court case. I said, "Pick up for Alexandra, please".

The aunty was stalling. "You went to Vaisakhi?" she said.

Oh god, I thought. Here we go with the questions....

"No, we are going to a Tamil New Years party" I said politely.

"Oh. Why you did that?" she said.

"My husband is Tamil. He is from Hyderabad." I said.

"How many years have you been married?" she asks.

I tell her eight years, just to freak her out. (We have been together for 8.5 years, although married for 3)

"Oh yes, I remember you. You came with your daughter last time. I didn't recognize you because you are now wearing so much make-up" she said.

ANNOYING.

Then her husband comes out from the back and gives me a look (you know what kind of look...) Her husband says, "Sindoor looks great! Looking very good, madam, in your outfit!

I smile and thank him. Oh shit, I think. She's gonna massacre me now...

She looks at me with a smug I-want-to-rip-your-guts-out look.

It was like a Midwestern movie stand-still....who's going to shoot first?

"Sindoor looks nice..." she said, leaning forward and squinting her eyes, as if she is an art inspector. Then she snaps back excitedly, happy to catch a misstep. "You've worn it wrong," she declares. "Your Sindoor", she presses on. "It should be in a diamond shape and it should go farther back".

I'm puzzled. What the hell - diamond shape?!?! I've never even seen that before!!! I know Rekha wears a triangle shape - but really, a diamond? Um, no thanks.

And secondly, this lady is not my dear MIL - so why does she think she can "correct" the way my MIL specifically taught me how to wear it?!?! Like, HELLO - I wouldn't tell her she was wearing her bra the wrong way!

Inside I am fuming although I am outwardly calm. I say curtly, "My Mother-in-law taught me how to wear it this way. I prefer it."

"Oh, your Mother-in-law....?" she says, in a mocking voice.

I grab my food and begin to leave. "Thanks," I said. I return to our apartment in a state of annoyance - thinking over what I should have said under pressure. I don't want to be rude, but I also don't want to be bulldozed by this lady. Or is it better to be rude?

Husband-ji wanted to know what was the matter...

"That stupid aunty told me I was wearing my Sindoor wrong! She said it should be in a diamond shape and longer!" I cried.

Husband-ji laughed. "You're wearing it just fine," he said. "Only old ladies with bald spots wear it like that. Don't listen to her."

(Apparently my sindoor was not up to the aunty's standards!!)

AGAIN... this nosy neighborhood aunty managed to interrogate me and left me miffed. I'm starting to really not like this lady. Her first interrogation was innocent enough - but this recent one annoyed me a lot. I found it to be really rude. And seriously - how many more questions can she ask me? Will she want to know my father's information next? It makes me feel so uncomfortable.

Like an episode from CBI, I'm telling you.... This aunty has really missed her calling as a detective!

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Dear reader, if this aunty has me cornered again like this - what do I do??? HELP!!! I'm scared!!!


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39 comments

  1. Alex,

    OMG! THE INDIAN AUNTY IS RELENTLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FORGET HER!!!! You look FABULOUS AND BEAUTIFUL AS YOU ARE!! The sindoor looks beautiful on you, so why in the HELL would you put it on using diamond shape?

    See I can just picture this in mind on what was said between indian Aunty and her Husband when you left. Indian Aunty goes back to where her husband is and says, "so you say she looks very nice and her sindoor looks great!" She would snap back and say, "she wears her sindoor wrong, it should be in a diamond shape." Indian Aunty's husband would say to her, "The LADY Looks beautiful and her sindoor looks great, there was NOTHING WRONG!" I am sure the poor guy will not be having any meal that day.

    You were very professional and poised and handled her VERY well. Next time she pulls that number on you, tell her to mind her own business and you will continue to put sindoor on the way your MIL taught you and the way YOUR husband likes!!!!!

    Love ya!!!

    Melissa

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    1. Thanks Melissa! This lady has turned from curious to irritating...it's like a total train wreck that I subconsciously knew was coming!
      I'm sure she had a fight with her husband after, like "why did you give that gori a compliment"! LOL
      When my MIL comes I should take her there and they should have an AUNTY STAND-OFF...Hahahaha!!!!

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    2. If you do that, could you please record it and share the video with us?

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    3. If you do that, couls you record the interaction and share it with us please? :D

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  2. I think it is time to pull a "I'm not comfortable answering the question" or "I'd prefer not to answer" routine. Aunty will hopefully get really miffed and leave you alone hereafter or she will continue to do this till you repeat yourself, THEN get really miffed and leave you alone. Either way I hope she leaves you alone soon- the Aunty questioning is immensely annoying and I grew up in India!

    Raina.

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    1. I think I'm beginning to understand why everyone avoids Nosy Auntys at ALL COSTS! When we are in India, my hubby is like my bodyguard!

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  3. Just keep saying "Oh, that's nice." or "Thanks." Don't say anything else. Be pleasant but uninformative. If she asks you a direct question, answer with the most minimal phrase you can. Smile as much as you can. The bigger your smile the more it will throw her off. Make her uncomfortable with how smiley you are.
    Just acknowledge that she spoke to you and then don't engage any further. This will make her very frustrated because she won't be able to get a rise out of you. I'd expect she would stop eventually once she realizes that annoying you won't be fun anymore.

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    1. Thanks for the advice, that is really good. I agree, I should just give her a Miss America smile and wave! :D Then at least she won't see me get annoyed.

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  4. "Hmmm."

    It's not assent, it's not dissent, it's not silence. It's just an acknowledgement, perhaps with a smile to soften it. It says, "I heard what you said" but gives no reaction - the Mona Lisa of responses. You are under no further obligation :)

    The Unexpected Compliment at the beginning of an interaction can also help draw attention off you - "You are looking so pretty today, Auntie!" (followed up with "You've reduced, haven't you?" if you're feeling particularly naughty) can sometimes make the situation All About Her instead of All About You.

    Also questions about *her* kids will almost always derail the conversation :) Happy auntie dodging!

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    1. That is a really good one. Or the Hindi way, "hā aunty". I should have totally took the attention off me by asking "did you go to vaisakhi?"; "are your kids married"....etc.
      "you've reduced" = GENIUS!!!!!!

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  5. KILL 'EM WITH KINDNESS! You look beautiful, she is just being intrusive and testing your knowledge I bet. Pretty rude, but don't let it get to ya.

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    1. Thanks! I wonder what our next interaction will be like....god only knows! I am going to avoid going there at all costs unless I'm desperate. The problem is I am always hungry when I go there so it clouds my judgement! LOL

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  6. I tend to be very confrontational with people that is rude to me. So if I had this woman in front of me bothering me everytime she would learn not to play that game anymore. But I also evade having any trouble with people that prepares and serves my food in a restaurant. So in this case I would play the fake smile card, say ok with a smile to everything she says, answer shortly to her questions and maybe start looking for a restaurant where ordering food doesn't imply to have an interview with a side dish of unwanted advice :)
    You look great in your attire and moreover you are wearing it with love and pride and that's all what matters.

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    1. That is a really good point - people in the food industry could easily mess with our food and that is scary! She could easily do something to my food if I have openly insulted her and she knows Alexandra is coming for a pick up!
      Fake smile card it is! ;)

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  7. OMG how annoying and rude. I thought those aunties exist in Bollywood movies only but looks like they are inspired by the real one. Try to ignore them, as they are not worth your time and energy. You have a beautiful family and I love your look in Indian outfit.

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    1. She was literally like a TV serial...I thought I was being taped for some prank TV show! I'm sure she is watching those serials in the back of the restaurant when there are no customers!

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  8. Hi - I never had that problem not even at the beginning of the relationship with any of his family members because I nipped it in the butt immediately. A simple "sorry but that's personal" or "I don't share my private life with strangers" should suffice. If you don't think you can't tell them directly them pretend that you are on your cellphone talking to someone. I actually called my answering machine once and pretended I was having a conversation with someone. Don't remember the circumstances but it worked.

    Millie B

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    1. That is a good one!!!!!!!! Brilliant!!!!!!!

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  9. Diamond shaped sindoor? that is the first time I heard of that! most ladies that wear sindoor in my social circles do it in a very discreet way here, just a small tiny dot at the base of the hairline, not even on the hair parting. There is no right or wrong way to wear it. But these aunties are relentless. I found the best tactic is to nod, smile and give the shortest answers possible, if you are not talkative they end up getting bored and leave you alone.
    Recently I have been targeted by a few aunties at the park, they apparently have an unspoken claim to all 3 garden swings there, and their tactics to claim them is to simply sit without asking if you mind, and then fire questions at will, never mind that I want quiet, they usually end up making whoever they don't want on said swing leave. I once refused to budge, she was as unconfy as I was, but I was there first, tired, and there was no other regular bench to sit on, after seeing me no responive to her chatter, and faced with the fact I would not leave she stood and left to go walk with her friends who were waiting for her to probably evict the firangi from the swinging bench. When I stood up to leave it was comical to all see them almost run to get their swing back....sigh! I have been quizzed about how long I have been married, how many kids I have, how long I have been living in Mumbai, faced pity looks upon them learning I have a girl, been asked where my husband is from, what I had for lunch, whether I have a maid, been ask if I can cook at all, faced look of surprise in their eyesores I tell them I can cook

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    1. I know, what the hell diamond shaped sindoor! I was like, WHAT?!?!
      OMG the garden swing bombardment, my worst nightmare! It's like, you go into nature to find peace and quiet and not troll for people to talk to! LOL
      Sometimes I feel bad for thinking that because these aunty's are elderly, but they are NOT that elderly!!! Hahaha!!!

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  10. Oops for some reason it didn't let me finish typing, the list of questions by these bench snatching aunties are endless, and they don't seem to get that if I am sitting there with my nose in my mobile phone that means I don't want to talk...AT ALL, and certainly not dispell stereotype and prove my worthiness in belonging to the park and bench....I just want to freaking play candy crush saga while keeping an eye on my daughter...and no I am not trying for a son while we are at it!

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    1. HAHAHAHAHAAHA!!! OMG I can only imagine....why are all these aunty's so obsessed with sons....my MIL included!

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  11. Btw, I know videos arent normally your thing but could you maybe do a short video on how to apply sindoor? I'm not married yet but it will be useful for the future, no way will my MIL bother to teach me.

    Let me know! Thanks.

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    1. I'll do a special post soon, just have to take the pics! Also the tattoo post is coming soon, my hubby is getting a full arm sleeve of Vishnu in July and I will be documenting it :)

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  12. Maybe she would have let you go if you had said you were going to rush home and fix it, then acted like you were panicked lol. I think she's looking for ways to get on your nerves. If that pic is what you were wearing that night, I don't see where you had on so much make up that you looked different. Next time you might want to try asking "may I go now." As odd as it sounds, that's the custom in hubby's family. You don't leave until you ask permission and then of course they can't say no.

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    1. Last time I saw her I didn't wear any makeup, but it's not like I look like a different person! I think she was just trying to get on my nerves, it totally worked!
      Next time it will be "pick up for Alexandra"...."MAY I GO NOW" (immediately after) Haahahahaha!!!!!!

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  13. New in this blog, love it!
    I saw your interview in Off-beat marriage, we were also featured in that site! :)
    Next time you meet her and she makes a comment about the way you wear you say:
    "I was taught elder people wear it like that, and I'm not old"
    Is a very fine way to call her old

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  14. Ha ha. Aunties.

    I have my own share of experiences with aunties. They ask so many questions and if you give any wrong answer, they will go to your parents and complain ha.

    I feel this aunty is -
    a) very jealous, so she has to put you down
    b) collecting gossip to talk to her friends
    c) curious
    d) has nothing else to do
    e) all of the above

    There are plenty of ways to deal with it - smile & say okay okay, ignore her & refuse to answer her questions, tell her to mind her own business etc.

    I once knew a guy (not an auntie) who asked too many questions. Anytime I ever ran into him, he would have a barrage of questions - how many modules did you take, what are your grades, how many hours are you in the lab and on and on. Even my friends complained of the same thing. I guess, he was too competitive and constantly collecting information to compare himself to other students.

    I decided to give him a dose of his medicine. Next time I ran into him at a bus stop, I started questioning before he did. I asked so many questions without pausing to let him ask me. I could tell he could not take it and was glad when his bus came. He never questioned me again!

    You could try this strategy next time you meet aunty - aunty, so what is your name, where are you from, when did you come to canada, why did you choose to come here, do you have kids, how many, what are their names, did you have love or arranged marriage, what are your kids doing, what do you cook at home, how long do you work at the store, who takes care of business, what languages do you speak...

    You can beat her at her own game :) and she will try not to bully you again.

    Other option is, anytime she criticizes anything you wore/did, just say in our caste, we do things like this, maybe in your families, you do things differently.

    Actually Iyengars rarely wear sindoor, at least in my family.

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    1. I feel like it is a little competitive too, the undertone of it. It is totally like she is collecting information for god knows what!!!
      I totally need to reverse the questionnaire on her. And then tell her she's wearing her bra wrong LOL.
      I'm not entirely sure where she is from. She doesn't look totally North Indian, but everyone in Vancouver is. And she knew the date of Puthandu. Maybe I will find out what her full name is and report back to hubby, for my investigations LOL!!!
      Same in our family about the sindoor, only a few of the newly married girls wear it but most do not. I think I'm probably the only Iyengar wifey who wears the orange color - it totally confuses other Indians LOL!

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  15. @Alexandra

    Actually, sindoor actually goes almost half way between the parting of hair. That is actually the right way to do it. However, most women in India these day's don't have central parting, so the sindor is on the forehead sneaking inside the hairline while the hair parting is on the side. Looks odd because we have never seen sindoor worn like that. But in today's busy life it is difficult to follow all the rituals. To each his own. Indian TV soaps vamps actually started the fashion of wearing sindor in many extravagant ways.

    The bengalis have an indegeneous use of sindoor. On the last day of Durga pooja, sindoor is applied to goddess durga and the married lays apply sindor to each other.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-OO_Kez-lE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrKe8H9Mt8o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N59IHdHYW24

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JZw0vWO9xw

    I have also seen that you use orange sindoor like the north indians, any specic reason or this particular colour is used in your family. I hope you don't feel offended. We have observed certain things from our childhood and get curious when we see something different.

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    1. The orange sindoor is for a very specific cosmetic reason - it looks good! The red one - people here will stop me thinking my head is bleeding. The maroon one is too dark. So orange it is! It totally confuses people. I think I got the orange powder that I am using when we were in Agra, actually.
      In India I wear the red one, since they all know it is sindoor and not a head accident!

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  16. It definitely sounds like jealousy and insecurity on her part! I bet she was fuming when her husband complimented you. You don't owe her any answers or explanations, just do you :)

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    1. Thanks hun!!!!! This lady is such a whackjob!!!

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  17. Take a deep breath and repeat slowly in your head, "I won't get drawn into an argument with this ignoramus. She will bring me down to her level of stupidity and beat me with experience!" Viola, peace of mind!

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  18. This is very funny! Ha Ha Ha! He He He!! Ho Ho Ho!!! Hey Hey Hey!!!! :D

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    1. It is funny in retrospect LOL :) At the time I was severely annoyed...

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  19. Thank God I found some people who are suffering from this Aunty trauma.I thought whether I am overreacting and used to tell to my husband about my panic.Cheers to the blog stupid aunty think so low and mean.

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