Sumati Huber pays tribute to all the Doctor Aunties in our lives.
They say doctors are made in the kitchen, not school. Actually no one says that. But if you’ve ever been given healing advice at the hands of a passerby with no medical degree and no experience, then you’ve probably met… Doctor Aunty.
The Doctor Aunty is an emerging breed of elderly women who suddenly have an uncontrollable urge to deny modern medicine and offer their unsolicited prescriptions to any young folk they meet.
Qualifications of a Doctor Aunty include:
-That one time they drank lemon water and felt good afterwards.
-Giving medical advice to all those that they encounter.
-Denying the consumption of anything cold.
-Claiming to have found the secret to perfect skin/hair/nails.
-Telling you that you’re too fat then offering you more deep-fried pakora to eat.
Doctor Aunties are part of an exclusive WhatsApp group entitled “Garam Pani Lovers”, where they forward each other health and wellness advice which is then taken as scientific fact. Once they absorb this information, the tips are forced upon everyone who needs their help.
The Doctor Aunty knows that all ailments can be solved with homemade concoctions, and are prone to throwing around potions consisting of turmeric, ginger, tulsi and age-old spices and herbs. They have a solution for every problem regarding your appearance and health, whether you knew it was a problem or not.
That’s the special thing about Doctor Aunties – they define a “problem” purely by looking at your outside, meaning it’s more of a predicament to them than it ever was to you. Are you too dark from the unrelenting Bangkok sun and/or genes that you can’t change? Nevermind that it doesn’t bother you, your appearance must be remedied according to Doctor Aunty and her superficial spectrum of skin shades. Her solution? Beti, you must smear some yoghurt on your face right away and get yourself back to an acceptable level of whiteness, or else what will people think?
Is your stomach bulging from being allergic to sit-ups and physical movement? First Doctor Aunty will accurately diagnose that you’ve gained a lot of weight when she sees you and tell you directly to your chubby face. But don’t worry, she will call in her team of experts to offer you an assortment of beverages to add to your menu. Mix some fenugreek (methi) powder with water to shed those kilos. Drink jeera water to relieve bloating. Boil ajwain (carom seeds) to make a beneficial tea. But whatever you do, don’t stop adding ghee to your food and never refuse a samosa that she offers you.
Is your hair prematurely greying from the stress of everyone pointing out your flaws? Doctor Aunty has the solution to reverse it, even though scientists say it’s not physically possible for white strands to go back to their original hue. But what do professionals know right? Massage a variety of oils into your hair including coconut, amla (gooseberry) or onion juice. These may help slow down white locks from developing but there’s no magic solution that can combat external factors like genetics, diet and the environment. Don’t tell Doctor Aunty that you know she visits Nong at the salon every six weeks to touch up her roots.
The most entrepreneurial Doctor Aunty will then take her days of experience one step further and actually start creating products to sell to you. All natural and homemade in her kitchen to tackle a host of issues ranging from digestion, boosting immunity and skin problems. She has incorporated trendy Ayurvedic principles and used only organic ingredients to help detox your body and mind.
Doctor Aunty may not have the conventional medical training but her vast network of acquaintances provide her all the knowledge she needs. She always knows someone who has had the exact same ailment as you and solved it using one of her homemade remedies. Remember her sister-in-law’s chachi’s daughter’s nephew who didn’t use haldi as an antiseptic on the wound on her foot? Yeah, he doesn’t have a leg anymore.
We should all applaud our very own Doctor Aunties for helping to make our society a healthier and happier place. We value their motivation in harnessing the power of traditional healing techniques. They remind us that we shouldn’t get too anxious or bogged down by our mental health. After all, if you ask Doctor Aunty young people these days have too many made-up problems and therapy is for Westerners only. Drink more warm water and all your worries will melt away!
An unreformed party girl and mother of two, writer, editor and observer Sumati Huber tries to make sense of our unique Thai-Indian society and the aunties that she will one day become.