By Ashima Sethi, Aiden Jewelle Gonzales and Shruti Kothari
The only guide you need to survive the Indian Society.
We love our aunties. They feed us when we’re already full, sing during games of Antakshari so that we don’t have to, and find us husbands even when we’re not looking. Although we may say that they’re best taken in small doses, the truth is that we can’t imagine life without them. This is a tribute to some of our favourite types of aunty—we’re sure you will be able to recognise at least five or all nine of them.
1) The Ayurvedic Aunty
This aunty is a yoga-doing, meditating phenomenon who believes that the cure for any ailment exists within yourself, or within your kitchen. She is often found wielding turmeric, acupressure slippers, or prayer beads, and may occasionally be heard muttering ‘om’ under her breath on repeat. Although her suggestions to rub ghee into your navel to help your eyesight may be hard to avoid, the good news is that she sleeps early, so she will never catch you sneaking in that tequila shot at Bunty’ wedding.
2) The Oversharing Auntry
You’ve definitely met this aunty if you’ve wanted to yell T.M.I and run away before you know too much about her gastrointestinal problems that stem from a combination of age, and eating her aloo ki sabji too late at night (because “beta, you know it’s best not aunties showing off their boundless energy, to eat anything after 6pm”). You’ve also met this aunty if she’s ever told you too much about problems at home, whether it’s her kids spending too much, how she suspects her maid is trying on her clothes while she’s s out, or how her husband farts when he sleeps. When conversing, don’t try to relate to any issues using personal examples, because you’ll soon find them becoming everyone else’s business too.
3) The “Appearance is Everything” Aunty
The most flamboyant of them this aunty shows a strange resemblance to that decorative species, the peacock, her proud (branded) plumage everywhere she goes. However, unlike a peacock, this aunty would never consent to be seen in the same outfit – or the same nose – twice. It’s not that everything she wears has to be couture, it’s that everyone else has to know that she’s wearing couture. Not difficult to recognize, this aunty’s distinctive features include a hide of premium Italian leather and a blinding jewellery set of diamonds or coloured gems.
4) The Midlife Crisis Aunty
A particularly untamed specimen, this aunty can be most often found in the wild at wedding parties and other events. To summon her, the sound of a cork popping or the beginning strains of “Mahi Ve” can serve as a clarion call to her and her flock, and you’ll soon be surrounded by a gaggle of aunties showing off their boundless energy, enthusiasm, and iron livers. A note of caution: this aunty is immediately attracted to any flat tabletop in the vicinity and attempt to climb it to better show off her dance moves. Ways to dissuade her include subtly steering her away from the tabletops and towards her natural habitat: the bar.
5) The Aunty-preneur
This aunty will tell anyone who’ll listen about her newest business venture, which often involves re-selling jewellery or clothes from India, starting a yoga home studio after learning Vinyasa in the Himalayan Alps, decoupage (everything from custom rakhri envelopes to paisley print car key boxes) and homemade beauty products (‘this scrub made from saffron and 36 other ingredients will really lift your face”). This is though, we love strong, independent women, so we’ve got to give these aunties credit where it’s due! They’re usually quite harmless as well. The worst they can do is lure you to their exhibitions, where you’re pretty much trapped into buying whatever they’ve got on sale.
6) The Matchmaker Aunty
This aunty’s eagle eye misses no interaction between unwed singles of opposite genders. Did you once ask some young buck to pass you the samosas at a party? Video highlights of your walk to the mandap are already playing in front of her eyes. Often seen trying to give her prey conspiratorial winks that are as subtle as the elephant she hired for her son’s baraat, this aunty will always have a friend’s sister’s doctor’s nephew whose WhatsApp details she can pass on to you when you’re a decrepit 25 and still have no marital prospects lined up.
7) The Old School Aunty
This aunty is easy to identify from a distance by her ramrod-straight posture. She oils her hair three times a week and usually sports a meticulous braid that goes down to her knees. To her, a salwar kameez is a salwar tameez, so any Western clothes you wear will never be good enough. She can be spotted racing with the monitor lizards at Lumphini Park at sunrise every day with her peers, their dupattas struggling to keep up with their pace. Her husband is often sighted at receptions scoffing down large amounts of jalebis whenever her sharp gaze is focused elsewhere.
8) The Premature Aunty
Easily the most deceiving on the block, this type of aunty is dangerous because she appears to be in her 20s, and even has a birth certificate to prove it. However, the closer you get, the more she exhibits behaviours from any or all of the above aunty-types. She wears buckles or scrunchies, complains about her acid reflux, and watches highlights from Zee TV on youtube without earphones during her weekly foot massage. Beware, she has sharp eyes, and everything she sees soon becomes known to her entire Whatsapp contacts list. She is often named Ashima, Shruti or Aiden.
9) The Detective Aunty
Arguably the aunty we’re most afraid of, she hides in plain sight, with hot spots at shopping malls like Emporium, restaurants that are hubs for kitty parties, and weddings. So trust us when we say that not even the line for gulab jamun,or hovering near the furthest ballroom bathroom is safe to discuss Madhuri’s new gora love interest. You’ll know who she is when her conversation about “enjoying school” shifts into an interrogation about topics like: what’s causing your weight gain, and whether it was you she saw last Sunday at the cinema with so-and-so’s cousin brother who just received his PhD. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do when it comes to dealing with this Lie Detector in Heels, but try to keep smiling and DON’T give her any info juicy enough to share via WhatsApp.
The Ideal Aunty
This mythical creature, rarer and more dazzling than the unicorn, is beloved by her own children, and everybody else’s children. She has a perfect complexion, bathed in a deep glow that comes from drinking a lot of water, and minding her own business. She appears with a cold coffee a soon as you step foot in her home, and swoops in with chhola puri every time your mum is mad because you refused to go to med school. She asks how you are instead of what you weigh. She somehow always smells like fresh linen. Although she is hard to find, everyone knows at least one.