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Dear Aunty D: December 2021

by Aiden

From moving out to eating with your hands, Aunty D gives her own brand of advice.


Dear Aunty D,

I’ve always prided myself on being a modern man. I keep up to date on all the latest technology, I invest in crypto and NFTs, and I make sure that I’m never caught on the back foot when it comes to contemporary sensibilities. However, ever since my mother-in-law has come to live with us, I’ve noticed that she’s very…traditional. She insists on a lot of the pujas that I don’t really attend anymore, and she evenstill eats with her hands during every meal. Lately, my wife and kids have followed in her footsteps, and I just can’t stand it. What do I do?

Dear Getting Out of Hand,

Tradition isn’t a dirty word, and neither is it ‘ew’ to eat with one’s hands! Traditions are what make us unique and different, whether it’s our cuisine, the way we dress, or our language. As for eating with our hands, it’s what mankind was originally meant to eat with. We are what we eat, but more importantly, how we eat is what will satiate and gratify not only the body, but the mind. Mindful eating means involving all the senses. It starts with the eyes gauging the dish; the nostrils absorbing the aroma; and the mouth salivating. This is enhanced when we eat with our hands, and our fingertips feel the texture and temperature of the food. The receptors in our tongue then take over, and translate the bite as sweet, salty, bitter, sour or savoury, before the food then reaches our stomach, the rasoi or pantry, and then dispatched to the rest of the body.


Dear Aunty D,

I’ve just turned 30 and I think I’ve done well for myself. I have a cushy corporate job, recently got a promotion, and have some money set by for a rainy day. Recently, I’ve tried to broach the subject to my parents of finding my own place closer to work and just staying with them on the weekends, but they act like I’ve mortally offended them by even thinking of moving out. I’ve been a good daughter and lived with them for three decades, without even going to uni abroad; I think it’s high time I pursued my own independence. How do I make them understand?

Dear Thirty and Feeling Shirty,

Today, our girls have matched strides with our boys and in some cases, broken higher ceilings; they’ve achieved what our generation femmes weren’t even allowed to aspire towards. Please understand that your parents are neither biased nor controlling, but being products of corseted and protected lives; a genuine concern for the safety and welfare of their daughters, irrespective of age, is ingrained into their psyche. So, take up judo, and assure them you’ll find a place with good security, and will be extremely cautious with whom you invite over. Also, to eliminate their dread of drifting apart, mean it when you say that you’ll drop in and spend time together on the weekends over your mum’s signature dishes.


Dear Aunty D,

I have nothing against arranged marriages – many of my friends met the loves of their life through an arranged match, and I was even looking forward to meeting someone that my parents approved of, unlike my foolish romances of the past. My parents recently introduced me to someone I thought was well-mannered and well-dressed, albeit the ‘strong and silent’ type, and we got engaged within the month. However, now that we’re getting to know each other better, he’s broken his silent streak…to talk about his apparel. It’s all he speaks about morning, noon, and night; you’d think his fashion choices were at the level of Lady Gaga. I just want to scream back to him, “Walk, walk fashion baby…away from me!”

Dear Dressed to Kill (With Boredom),

Your fiancé sounds like the reincarnation of the protagonist from Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, whose fashion obsession rendered him so gullible that it made him the butt (pun intended) of a joke by his subjects. Please heed the loud warning bells and loop in your parents and common friends to sleuth in on him. Investigate if under the guise of being a ‘fop,’ our present-day protagonist is harbouring an inferiority complex and has repressed insecurities, and therefore seeks attention and self-appreciation through his expertise on the latest threads. Please dig deep, or else you’ll land up with a bedroom almirahs (wardrobe) jam- packed with ‘his’ and no place for ‘hers’.

Have an etiquette question? Send your dilemmas to aiden@masalathai.com and write “Dear Aunty D” in the subject line.

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