From navigating long Indian goodbyes to hairy Dadus, Aunty D dispenses advice and wisdom.
FROM GOODBYE TO GOOD RIDDANCE
Dear Aunty D,
Don’t get me wrong, I love having guests over, despite the pandemonium that inevitably ensues. My didi always prepares the best snacks, and we youngsters usually find time to sneak out to the poolside to hang out. The one thing that I hate about these visits, however, is how bloody long everyone takes to leave. There are the goodbyes, then the final cuppa chai, then packing the food up, then the last, 10-minute chat about someone’s masi’s daughter…We’ve already gained independence from Britain, so why are we still pulling a Brexit and not leaving when we say we will?
Dear From Goodbye to Good Riddance,
We Indians are a hospitable lot but also very opinionated, and it’s important for us to get in the last word. Whether anyone asks for it or not, we are very eager and ready to offer free advice on any subject under the sun. We know the best doctor, shop, restaurant, beauty parlour, samosa joint, pakora recipe; we have a nuska, a remedy for any malady, be it acidity, knee pain, acne; we know how you should bring up your kids or treat your daughter-in-law/mom-in-law though we might be clueless ourselves. We can even suggest a good match for your coming-of-age son/daughter/niece/nephew/grandchildren/neighbours’ children; thus the long adieus. My advice? Either stay and enjoy the gup-shup or make yourself scarce!
PUTTING THE TIRED IN RETIRED
Dear Aunty D,
I’m worried about my husband. He’s 70 years old, and recently, our sons told him it was high time he gave the reigns of the family business to them and enjoyed his retirement. However, I don’t think he knows what to do when he’s got ample of time to himself. The on-and-off lockdown restrictions haven’t helped, as he stopped his daily morning walks around the park with his friends, and now he just watches TV and stares into space. I hate seeing him like this. What should I do?
Dear Putting the Tired in Retired,
Though to anyone looking in from the outside, it seems god-sent to retire while still healthy and to travel and see the world or do whatever your heart desires, but for him it’s a deprivation of his oxygen. Unfortunately, it’s a sad reality for the men of our Bangkok community of his generation, who grew up believing that spending time doing or thinking about anything else besides the family business was almost a sin. Even dining table chatter and a boys’ night out, meant talk about Sampheng with a liberal smattering of politics and world affairs. You’ll need all the strength and patience to veer him into new interests!
A HAIRY SITUATION
Dear Aunty D,
I feel bad about this, but I’m kind of embarrassed to introduce my dadu to my friends. He’s very nice, albeit a bit gruff, but as he’s started balding, I’ve noticed that it makes the tufts of hair that stick out of his ears even more prominent. He now looks like he’s got a veritable forest creeping out of his ears, and he’s weirdly proud of it! How do I, in the nicest possible way, tell him to please shave it off or at least groom it so he doesn’t embarrass me?
Dear A Hairy Situation,
If you look closer, you’ll notice that the rampant tufts of hair snaking out of his nostrils and his eyebrows are getting longer and bushier, almost like the Cro-Magnon dude. See, as men grow old and grizzled, the balance of oestrogen and testosterone in the body goes a little wonky and oestrogen usually loses out, leaving the testosterone unopposed to cause the hair to grow to troll-doll proportions in places where they are neither wanted nor needed. Though Dadu is starting to be a Grinch look-alike, he’s still your grandpa, the one who jostled you and cradled you when you were toothless and bald and soiled the diapers, so treat him with respect!