There used to be a serial called “Hum Paanch” a long time ago. It was a story of 5 sisters and had a character “aunty” who was always conscious of anyone calling her aunty. So her pet dialogue was, “Aunty mat kaho na!” As moms, we are used to very old kids calling us aunty, and we take it in our stride. It is like once you become a mother, you become universal aunty.

But, I remember the jolt I felt when I was called aunty for the first time. I was newly married and 26 at that time.After my wedding, we visited the houses of many of my husband’s friends. At one such friend’s house, the lady of the house warmly welcomed us. She then called her daughter who was studying in 12thstandard at that time. She introduced us, and what do you know. The girl says, “Hello aunty?” I was just a few years older to her and she calls me aunty. I was so stunned that I almost fell off the chair. I am sure my expression must have said it all :). Her mom could gauge my reaction and embarked upon her own tales where she had been called aunty in a similar way.

No, I have no trouble in accepting my age. But, I find it plain stupid that someone would do that. Some women deliberately call other women aunty in their effort to feel young. I really don’t know. After that rude shock, I had no trouble with anyone calling me aunty ever :). But, I do give it back to smart ass men and women of my age who try to do this.

Yes, it is a cultural thing that most Indians call their parents’ friends uncles and aunties instead of Mr. or Ms. It is a hangover from the olden days when people were called kaka, kaki, tau, bua, mausi etc. which have been anglicized uniformly as uncle and aunty. Frankly, I am happy with the relatives I have and don’t want unwanted ones especially of the older variety springing surprises on me ;-).

Did you ever face these “uncle” and “aunty” experiences?

Pic courtesy: Freedigitalphotos.net

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182 Thoughts on “Aunty Who?

  1. It is a picquant situation where we want to retain our cultural identity by addressing each other as uncle, aunty, didi, bhaiya at the same time are reluctant to accept the western way of world to call by first names!!But yes some situations could be difficult, Rachna:)

    • I agree, Rahul! But some people use it to deliberately bug others or just don’t have the sensitivity to understand these things. Kids are understandable. My sons are likely to call my friends uncle and aunty too.

  2. Nah…I don’t think “Aunty” is age related.It is more ” Relation ” related .
    But,one always has a choice of saying what aunty said in ” Hum Paanch”

    • But, then say didi or bhaiya. We were told to call younger men and women, didi or bhaiya not uncle and aunty. Uncle and aunty clearly connote older people of your parents’ generation.

  3. Aah! All the time!! And let me tell you that it is so very irritating!! Aunty/Uncle should be addressed to those people who are a whole generation older than you! A few years older does not qualify you to be an Aunty!!

  4. I have been called aunty as soon as I was a graduate. 🙂 I suppose we are conditioned to call anyone with some title. We seldom call someone with their name.
    In the temple we call any woman as Mataji and men as Prabhuji. A woman who came in new and did not know this got irritated and said don’t call me ‘Mataji’. 😛

    I often wonder why we get irritated when someone calls us aunty where as we don’t get irritated by a ‘masi’, bua, mami etcs.
    http://www.bbsearchingself.wordpress.com

    • I would be equally bugged if she had called me bua, tayi, mausi, kaki or whatever :). Didi would be fine, or she could have called me by name. Imagine calling a young lady, mataji, she would be mortified :). I’ve heard most people being irritated by this.

  5. Oh..this is sooo not happening 🙂 I struggle big time If I call anyone they get annoyed even if they have kids half your age!!… once i was at a department store and I called the woman at the cashier ….Aunty ..who literally had all white hair and looked almost 10 yrs older than my mum…and she gave me sucha bad eye look!…

    And it happened wih me too… I feel this awkwardness to hear aunty after my name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why in India we just cant call ppl with their first names or address them as sir or mam…rather than tagging ppl as aunty, uncle, bhaiya or didi…

    • hehe I don’t know what to say about that lady. But, I feel that we really must begin discarding this aunty approach. Why make everyone our relative? Lets call them Sir or Madam or I sometimes see their badges and address them by their names. Another peculiar trait of us Indians — this aunty uncle thingy.

  6. Interesting experience. Everyone has to go through this sometime or the other I guess. I was called uncle while still at college by my toddler cousin. At his age he found it difficult to accept a so much older cousin. Now the boy had grown up and will be entering college next year. I am hoping some kid calls him uncle too.

    I think I have a whole lot of other age related stories. But if I write all that it will become a blog post. So maybe I will write a blog post itself.

    • hehe “I am hoping some kid calls him uncle too.” Absolutely, go ahead write a post. Just yesterday, the newspaper guy came to collect his bill. He must be my age or at least he looks like a middle-aged man. He called me, “aunty.” I gave him such an icy glare that he froze in his path. I am not exaggerating. I just said, “Aunty?” He never uttered the word again in all the conversation. I had a huge laugh after he left.

  7. By the way, Hum Panch was a good serial. Wish they still made serials like that. Nowadays all serials are sick.

  8. When I was called uncle for the first time, it was a very shocking experience. Over time you get used to it and now I have been bombarded with the word so many times that I have given in. Ageing gracefully is difficult, I tell you.

    • I have gotten used to it too, but when it is an older man or woman who does it I give it back :). To kids, I am much more tolerant even adult kids of my friends, I understand.

  9. LOL Rachna 😀 it has happened to me several times. Eventually, I evolved my own defense mechanism to the similar situation (specially when the other person is not so younger than me) to make that person equally embarrassed if not more. I’d like to share my wisdom here. 😛

    I got married at the age of 30. One day while I was shopping for my marriage I went to a bag shop where a group of college students were also shopping for their college bags. The shopkeeper was already busy so he didn’t listen to my call. So I just stood their waiting for him. In the meantime, a girl from the group called me AUNTY and pointed towards the shopkeeper who was now free and asked me about my choice of purse. I was immediately taken aback and felt humiliated of being called Aunty (I was not even married yet). So impulsively and very politely, I told that girl that “if I am aunty to you then definitely you are wearing diapers!” The girl apologized, while her friends stared in awe.

    I really felt as if I had defended my dignity and self respect. Since then I use the same tact in the similar situations. But I make sure to never do this to the kids or those who seem younger than 15 yrs to me. However, if a lady of equal age calls me “Aunty” I make sure to address her in an equally respectful manner or may be something more, like Aunty Ji, Chachi Ji, Daadi Ji or Amma Ji 🙂

  10. It is annoying when people of your age group call you aunty/uncle:(
    Great take!!

  11. On the positive side, I am hoping aunty sticks for a long time….honestly, I dread mataji.

  12. Hi Rachna aunty!!!!!!!
    Sorry that was just a slip.
    Yes i have been there.But i don’t remember when i graduated from aunty to daadi.So long as the term is said with love or respect it doesn’t bother me because i understand that the other person has some complex about his age when it comes from a person nearer mine.

  13. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  14. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  15. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  16. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  17. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  18. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  19. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  20. Oh this happpens so very often .. Hello Aunty!:)

  21. Ah…tell me about it! When you’re married, immediately, the not so younger lot start to call you “aunty” and if you have kids tagging along…there’s just no respite, whatsoever! The worst was, when a 28 yr old guy at Church(who’d started balding already!) called me “aunty” when I was just 2 yrs older than him, just because I was married and he wasn’t…can you beat that?!

    ‘Hum paanch’…yes I remember that serial quite vividly.

    • True RGB! When you have kids, people start thinking that it is okay to call you aunty. And, it is insulting when someone your age does it. They have to be idiots to do it without realizing what they are doing. So, I retort with mataji or auntyji these days. Just goes to show that Indians are very poor at social etiquette.

  22. That was interesting to read. In my opinion, we call someone uncle or aunty if they are around the age of our mother/father.
    Anyway, no one has called me uncle 🙂 🙂

  23. Just once! That made me so mad 😀 I was only 28 then. Now I don’t, though. Didi yes, aunty no.

    Do check out my latest post!

    • True Ash! Apart from kids, I haven’t really had adults calling me aunty. But that first instance was such a surprise :). Sure hopping over to your blog.

  24. Wow! A nice new template!
    I can understand how irritating it must be to be addressed as Aunty. I have myself gone through that, after having two kids,one aged about 3 and the other just born, that too when I was just 26 in Bombay.This boy must have been around 23/24 years old from our building,says “Hello Aunty”, my God I was so shocked, just because I had two small kids doesn’t immediately turn me into an Aunty, that too being addressed by a boy just 3 years younger than me. Then again when we moved to Bangalore one lady from Andhra, who had just got married moved into our building, now she was 26 years old and I was just about 6 months older than her, and she calls me Aunty, I felt like slapping her, for not only did she look older than me ( she looked old for her age),just because she knew I had two kids, she thought I was Aunty material.
    Then, as time went by, I got into fitness and I started to look younger than my actual age, I found people addressing me by my name or ‘maam’, or even didi.
    In Madras it is very common among friends to address each other as Mami, there will be Veenai mami if she was teaching veena, or Narayanswamy mami,if she was married to Narayanswamy, or just because her daughter’s name is Raji, she would automatically become Raji mami. They would all be of the same age, and still call each other mami, this is really funny. At least in north I have heard people address same age people as behanji, that it slightly better than Mami.
    I don’t mind being called an Aunt by nephews or nieces or people of that age, but when people who are of the same age calling me Aunty is a big No, No.
    I am happy that for the past few years this Aunty thing has happened only rarely.
    Now even if somebody calls me that, I am matured enough both physically and mentally to keep my shock invisible. My husband looks like a real uncle and it doesn’t bother him, if people call him uncle. Even abroad, it is the Indians who would start calling you Uncle/ Aunty, though they wouldn’t dare to call the local people like that.
    I always wanted to write on this topic, and you have done it.

    • Thank you Rama! I know sometimes looks are deceiving. Fatter ladies get picked on much more. I also get mostly compliments for looking younger than my age. And, I give it back to those who deliberately do it of my age group because they have some complex about their own age. Thank you for sharing your experience. I know, we Indians have some very peculiar traits :).

  25. It hurts!
    After few initial shocks I started replying Hello/Namaste, beta/beti/baccha. Aur kya kar sakte hain 🙁

  26. Ouch !!
    Till the day you are single, no one calls you aunty. The moment you are introduced as someone’s wife you become an aunty !! What a logic!!

  27. Agree with @raodivya. I got married at 16 and have been called Auntie ever since, sometimes by people older than me, just because they were single. Completely immune to it all

  28. I loved hum paanch , it was funny. well its ok in punjabi i think you can call everyone PAAJI 🙂 for Males..
    but I aint calling the female equivalent he he he he 🙂

    but its fine here in uk, they all call me Bikram or Bik so easy peasy no uncle no aunty, call by the first name …

    Bikram’s

    • Paaji is elder brother and that shows a lot of love. I am okay with didi or akki or behanji, but similar age people calling you aunty is just not done. I know why you don’t want to use the term for sister :).

  29. You Know, when we are young, we always wanted people to call us aunt,akka – as in by giving all those respect. As we grow older, we don’t want them to call that way! How strange! You were lucky to be called “Aunty” at 26. I was an aunt while doing my college. But that was a real relationship that called me aunt, so I was happy. Everytime a kiddo calls me aunt does make me alarming that I feel “Oh my God!, I am getting older”.

    • Nahin yaar. I never wanted to be called aunty. I don’t mind akka or didi. And, people of my age group doing it when I look younger than most of them is plain ridiculous. With kids I am fine, even older ones of my friends, it is understandable. With adults, it is inexcusable. Behenji or bhabhiji is also okay, but aunty is stupid :).

  30. Rachna,

    LOL. Factual. But then a time comes when we need to accept our age. However I am with you for giving it back to same or almost same age persons addressing as Uncle or Aunty. I remember that my father had a MAUSI who was younger to him. Even I have cousins who are much older than me and their children call me CHACHA.

    Take care

  31. Rachna,

    Forgot to add, Caught up with all pending posts and left my comments.

    Take care

  32. few months back i was in a parking area with my 10yrs old daughter and there was a lady(of atleast my age if not more) who was struggleing with her scooty to take that out from the bunch of bikes, after few attempts she asked me to help and I took that scooty out from that parking area…as usual she was glad n obliged, so she told me “thank you uncle”…suddenly my daughter started laughing and when i asked her the reason, she said “Aunty ne aapko UNCLE bol diya Papa”…….:))

  33. You reminded me of those wonderful days of “Hum Paanch.” I think Madhavan was first introduced in that serial, na? Same here. I was flabbergasted when I was addressed as ‘aunty’ for the first time but now I don’t much mind that. One incident comes to my mind when I read this post. A little girl came home when we were in my Aunt’s place. She was talking to all of us and when she saw my husband (she was seeing him for the first time), she asked me, “Akka, who is this uncle?” to which everyone burst out laughing. Many a times, this ‘uncle,’ ‘aunty’ confusion always arises in the Indian context. I guess this is not found outside of India.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    • hehe Yep, I have seen that too. Some men just go grey and bald, whereas, their wives colour their hair and start looking younger than them. I have seen some hubbies like that too :).

  34. Oh this happens to me all the time 🙂 As you said I too give it back to people who give smart ass comments.

  35. I was LOL when I read this.Every woman can relate to this, Rachna. Luckily not many people call me so, may be because of my petite figure. But I think a couple of or few teenagers called me aunty when I was not in the ‘eligible age’ to be called an aunty. You know, my kids decide who to call aunty or akka(didi) depending on their looks. We have two neighbors. Both the couples are newly married and don’t have kids yet. One’s wife is lean and skinny and my kids call her akka. The other is little chubby and they call her aunty. She doesn’t mind b cos she has a niece already 🙂 I didn’t tell them to..they just decided by themselves..sometimes, I make sure to correct them, call her akka. Btw, there was this manager of hubby. His sons are married and he want our kids to call him uncle. We also call him uncle. So, some friends wantedly tell their kids to call him grandpa..LOL..hey, I like the fall look on the blog..:)

    • And I sail in the same boat, Latha with my looks :). Most women my age even without kids look fatter and older than me. Imagine them trying to feel young by calling me aunty. And, I just call them mataji or something similar to put them in place. With kids, it is okay yaar. My kids will also call my friends uncle or aunty irrespective of their marital or kids status. Thank you for liking the look. I love it too ;-).

  36. I turned aunty at 14 when my oldest cousin had her first kid. I was so excited about my first nephew that I gladly accepted the title. I dunno if it was because of that, but honestly, it never got to me when somebody called me that, not even people my age.

    Most of the time older kids also address us that way only because they don’t want to sound disrespectful by using our first names alone. We are Indians after all. 🙂

    • I loved it when I became mausi in real life. A cute toddler calling me mausi used to make my heart sing but not an 18 year old girl :). With kids, it is fine. But with people of similar age, I give it back :).

  37. Ha ha ! There is always a stage in life when one gets “Unclified” or “Auntified”.. just like we get ‘mummified’ after some time. I think I remember a hair dye experience more.. where one woman hears a resounding ‘Aunty’ ‘Aunty’.. in the background and decides to dye her hair 🙂

  38. Ah! it hurt 🙂 reminded me of the time when I was newly married. It was not an older kid but a 6 year old who called me aunty and I was in for a shock for many days.

  39. oh many times !!!! I had college students calling me Aunty just after I got married ! Now I have got used to it … And I do remember Hum Paanch and “Aunty mat kaho na ” wish we had more of those kinds of serials now …

  40. I got married at 18 and 16 year old used to call me aunty, or mammichachi whatevr. But i nevr felt bad:)..once a collegue of my hubby who was around 25, called me so, when I was 32, my brother felt very offended, but I said whats the problem, I am what i am and it doesnt make any difference to me..

  41. I read this in some other blog and found it to resonate perfectly with me :

    I am not you Aunty if :

    My children are older than your children by just a few years .

    I was not a part of your childhood playing the role of an adult .

    We just got introduced and you are not sure of my age

    I do not belong to your parents’ generation

    This Aunty business bugs me no end …I have given it out to a couple of new women 🙂

  42. 🙂 I remember I used to prefer Aunty to Akka – somehow Akka didn’t sound so fun. I am so used to people just addressing me by name…that the “Aunty” took some getting used to. So hilarious. The weird part is when other adults call me “aunty”…and then I have to remember that many of them are half my age. Still. 🙂

    • Really? I prefer Akka or didi. Here in Bangalore, auto fellows, our helpers also address us as ma, amma or akka, and I know that they do it out of respect or convention. But when adults or people older to you do it, we can sort of guess their intention.

  43. Love the background, by the way 😀

  44. Like you, I have got used to people calling me aunty after the first initial jolt. But I do draw the line at elderly shopkeepers calling me “Aunty”. I once asked an elderly shopkeeper what aunty meant and he said, “Aunty ka matlab Madam hai, aur madam se aunty bolna zyaada achhaa lagta.” He had no clue as to what “aunty” meant and was quite horrified when I explained to him. 🙂

    Nice post, Rachna Aunty 😉

    • Thank you Sudha :). Shopkeepers etc. use the same address for all customers. I find some of them saying bhabhi, didi, aunty etc. and that is okay. But, when people of our age group or older do it, then it is definitely very stupid.

  45. Hi!
    Very good post!
    I can completely understand how you must have felt because I feel the same when people call me uncle! I am getting used to school kids addressing me like that. But few weeks back, I got the shock of my life when a college going girl, who was asking for some directions on the road, called me UNCLE!!! I was speechless for few moments!

    Keep writing.

    Cheers,

    Keyur
    thecommonmanspeaks.com

  46. Living in Mumbai, one gets used to every vendor calling you aunty! I realize that it’s a form of respect and has no bearing on my age really. Of course, sometimes the vendor seems much older than I am, but who cares! 🙂

    • Yes Corinne, even here vendors, helpers etc. call you aunty, akka or amma. That is absolutely fine. But imagine someone among your friends and acquaintances of the same age group or older addressing you that way. That is plain stupid.

    • Just wanted to add a little story, Rachna. There was this elderly man who the kids in church would call ‘uncle’. He’d stop them and ask: “Am I you mother’s brother or your father’s brother?” They would obviously look puzzled. Then he would go on. “Call me Mr. XXX or ‘Jack'(I’ve changed the name).” They would nod and say, “Okay uncle!” 🙂
      Incidentally, my niece and nephew don’t call me aunty and I call many of my Dad’s siblings (he has 14!) by their names.

  47. I became an aunt at the age of 6 when my eldest sister had a baby and I insisted he call me chithi when he began talking! I loved the grown up title and since then have taken great pleasure in being addressed by any form of address including pati or grandma, which I became at the ripe age of 40! When older people and I mean really older ones call me aunty, I simply smile inwardly. Let them, if it makes them feel young 🙂

    • I remember that first incident because it really shocked me :). Otherwise, I haven’t really faced any older people calling me aunty except for kids or vendors etc. which is fine.

  48. One of my distant cousin was good 20 years older than me and her daughter was just 2 years younger than me! And to my disbelief and shock she took admission in my school after they settled in our city after returning from some obscure place where my cousin’s husband was posted.

    You can probably imagine the horror when a girl of std. IX follows another girl of std. XI around the school calling her Mausi aloud! 🙁

  49. exactly what happened to me today. a shopkeeper with gray hair (even i have few, i just hide them strategically) politely enquired, “so, where is uncle’s house?”

    i am ok with people calling me uncle, it just sounds a little strange when people older than me address me with so much respect.

  50. In the southern U. S., it is traditional to refer to an older female (not always a relative) as “ma’am”. I don’t recall the first time I heard this from a younger person, but it certainly grabbed me up by the bootstraps and had me looking in the mirror! Was I really that old? Dang!
    Now, I take it as a sign of respect and am proud of the years I’ve lived to earn that title.
    Great post, Rachna!

    • Thanks, Martha. Seriously when an older person addresses you this way, you wonder whether something is wrong with their eye sight or if you had suddenly turned old.

  51. Hah!
    I think just like people remember even years later exactly where they were and what they were doing when a catastrophic event occurred (e.g. Sep 11, 2001 etc), we also seem to have vivid memories of the day we were first addressed as Uncle/Aunty!
    I so clearly remember mine! 😉
    This was such a delightful post. By the way, a very happy wedding anniversary to you and your husband!

    • hehe Rickie Yes, I can see that most people who commented could clearly recall this catastrophic event in their lives. Thanks for the wishes. Looks like you had a rocking time in Cal.

  52. ha ha..am laughing out loud at Alka’s comment.
    Yes it is funny when grown up kids start calling you aunty once your are married..I have had my share as well , it used to be hugely entertaining.

    • hehe Sometimes it can be really amusing. I love to see the faces of smart alecs too when I give it back or when I witness someone else give it back :). There was this lady who was called aunty by another fat lady who might be just a few years younger to her. This lady turned around and said, “Apna chehra dekha hai sheeshe main. Budhape mein sathiya gayee ho :).”

  53. Why am I not surprised? This is so common in Bangalore. I have been addressed Aunty by my mid-age maid when I was still in school. They think “Aunty” is a general form of addressing and dont understand what it means

  54. People are only too happy to stereotype using age. As I grow older I try very hard not to pigeonhole anyone, young or old.

  55. Hahaha! Insane, but people do call us aunty to make them look young. I too give back:P

  56. Ah! the Aunty syndrome – the most dreaded moment in a woman’s life. Haven’t we all faced it, spent sleepless nights over it and finally learnt to live with it?

  57. Thankfully I’,m not yet in that stage But I do dread that day. Sometimes its better to be formal and address someone as Mr and Ms instead of being cordial and addressing someone as Aunty or Uncle!

  58. I can imagine your horror. I remember there used to be one aunty, my mother’s age, and she used to address my mother as aunty. How my mother hated her! 😀

  59. LOL!!! Lovely post–a post that makes me want to vent so bad. Yeah, yeah have been called aunty umpteen times by all kinds of folks and it irritates me. The reason is not being called “older” but that older in Indian context often means you are not part of the “interesting” group and also desexualizes you in a way. What is more, I have noticed serials which make fun of “older” women who prefer not to be called aunty–as if such women are some kind of pigs unaware of their “true state of body and mind”!
    But I guess, I am less angry these days after being assaulted so many times as “aunty.” Some of my nieces who love me tease me purposely as “aunty” and I know they do it out of love and that even that teasing I am more their friend than a relation!

    • Ah, what an insightful comment. Of course, I wanted to say that the comment makes you feel as if you are over the hill and as if we are wrong in protesting the “aunties” and “uncles” heaped on us. Me too — less angry these days. I take “you look too young to be a mother of two” with the same pinch of salt as the “aunty” doled out to me :). Teasing is fine but we can make out when the intent is anything but honorable!

  60. I am a newly married college going 20 year old! I stay with my husband in an apartment.. Seriously Rachna, hate it when kids(be it 3 year old to school going) in the apartment address me as an aunty. Its terrible! 🙁 Aunty hasnt sunk into me yet, i feel its too early that I be called an aunt by them.. why not didi!
    I was researching on this stereotypic Indian issue and thats when I saw your blog. It really helps and calms me down to see others have also experienced this. Just being tall and a lil chubby doesnt make me an aunt right! How do I react to this?
    And what do I call people older to me, say around 10-15 years older… jus calling them by name sounds disrespectful… Can i call them didi/akka ignoring how many kids theyve got?!

    • Yep our culture creates quite a mess. We can’t call elders by name. And aunty or uncle is dicey :). I think it is always safe to call didi or bhaiya, that is harmless :).

  61. lol .. it wasn’t with uncles or aunties with me .. but while i was in one of the apparel shops, a lady walked into the store and thought i was the sales guy who will show some piece of cloth, said, “bhaiya woh dikhaana…!!!”

    imagine how embarrassing it must have been for me…i first time in my life felt like asking mother earth to open up and pull me in!!!

  62. 🙂 I am okay with being called Aunty, Behenji, Mataji, whatever … it doesn’t change my own opinion of me, which is stuck somewhere between age ten and 14. Let them be – they’re not okay with themselves and need to make others uncomfortable.

    • Happy that you can do that :). I have this keeda to give it back to people who are doing it with a malicious intent. Kya karen. Unko sabak sikhana bhi zaroori hai!

  63. annie on May 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm said:

    Hi Rachna,

    You resemble my friend sooooo much. The post is really interesting. I have such people around me who would definitely be my parent’s age (62 and 59 yrs) but would want to call my husband ‘bhaisaab’ or ‘Dada’ ( live in Kolkata of course!). My husband just doesn’t mind but I get wild.(Obviously that means I am their bhabi). I think it also happens because we do not address these people as ‘Aunty’ or ‘Uncle’ ….they observe us for some days and then decide that they can easily get away by calling us ‘Dada-Bhabi’….and boy! they do. Both of us really find it hard to address people as ‘Aunty’ or ‘Uncle’. We are in our early forties and find it silly to call even our parents’ age people as ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’.

    But what to do, even my husband thinks and behaves like an old man and wants me to do the same. My parents married young and I find them so full of life, even now. And here, my husband reminds me of my age… umar ho raha hai…gussa thoda kam karo…then on showing fangs….says.. was just concerned about my health (BP- Sheepee)….btw he is the one who has BP…I have no BP and no sugar. Not that I look old and haggard. For me its a bit strange….young people call me ‘Didi’..and older people (father’s age or mother’s age) also address me as ‘Didi’.

    I don’t know what to make of my husband’s comments or for that matter other elderly people around me. Since I teach in a college, one gentleman who is in his sixties calls me ‘madam’. Only one lady in the apartment says… “hum to aapko naam se hi bulaenge’.

    Anyways, I was looking for tips to handle such situations.

    Annie

    • Oh annie, I understand your angst. What can I say? At different times I use different tactics — ignore or give it back. But mostly, I have learned not to take it to heart. That helps a lot :).

  64. Nice article. I came here when I googled “grown up woman calls me aunty”. I am perfectly okay with kids or even teenagers calling me aunty…I am 30 and have an 8 month old daughter but today a grown up, I would say about 25 yrs old, called me aunty. And I still can’t get it out of my head. I have decided, the next time I meet her I am going to call her Aunty too.. and her mom is going to be ‘Maaji’ because she told her daughter ‘aunty ko bolo ghar ane’.

    I don’t understand this..If I find it awkward to call someone almost my age ‘aunty’ why don’t others feel the same? Do they think by calling me aunty they automatically become younger. When I told my husband he was laughing, I don’t see why!

  65. Hello Mam,
    I am from delhi.I handle my own garment shop with my father.i have completed my graduation & am only 22 yr old. Everytime it happens with me, when i work at my shop, some girls at about 28 age with kids or 1/2 yr younger then me or even those who are about my mums age calls me didi. Whenever they say like that i feel very hurt n disturbed & that thought does leave me. I want ur suggestion about this from u. Pls Mam help me.. I feel very hurt.
    Wit Lov

  66. we have this idiot at work who is 32 and is bald and ageing. but takes gr8 pleasure to call 2 of us who are in 37/38 age as aunties… as if he is very young
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  67. I loved the serial ‘Hum Paanch and never missed it. and i loved the lady who kept saying ‘aunty mat kaho na.’ and the girls kept telling her to irritate her.

  68. The first time I was called aunty was by my landlord’s daughter. The girl was 15 and I was a mere 23. I was annoyed until my roommate cooled me down by asking if I would have been annoyed had the girl called me mausi or bua. I said no. She told me to think that aunty was just someone calling me mausi.

    But yes, when someone older than me, or as old, calls me aunty, I retaliate by calling them ‘beta’ very sweetly and treating them like an infant. Something tells me that they don’t much like it. Yup, I’m intuitive that way. You know, like psychic?

    It’s a cross. It’s a cross. Sigh.
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  69. In spite of being 32, I get called Didi by my friend’s kids. Their reason is simple – only married women are called aunty it seems :))
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  70. Rachna, you got it at 26 years of age. I got it at 13 when a colleague of my Dad called me aunty while he was asking directions to my house. Yes, he didn’t know that it was my house he was looking for and I was really tall for my age. But yes, many people do it deliberately to feel young. I just don’t give them a damn care. Like they say, ” hone do bechare/bechari ko khush, mere abba ka kya jaata hai” 😛 😀
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  71. A few years older then didi, bhaiya or I think just call by name! Aunty, uncle are when we belong to different generations.. !
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  72. Kirtee on January 23, 2014 at 1:54 am said:

    My son’s friends call me by my first name, and believe me that was as much of a rude shock as being addressed as “aunty”. In fact we had a discussion among the Indian parents in our class as to what the kids should call us 🙂 lol … The kids of our personal friends still call me the cursed “aunty”!

    • Yes, Kirtee! I can imagine. I guess I felt it the first time when I called my boss by his name. But now I am used to addressing older people by their first name. At the same time, a college kid calling a young woman with a toddler aunty is so weird :).

  73. Hahaha story of my life n my hubby would deliberately make everyone call meaunty 😀

  74. Ashutosh on March 2, 2014 at 10:53 am said:

    Hello Rachanaji

    Sorry, i am commenting on the wrong post ..I just read some article of your’s ( Aunty mat kaho naa). And yes, I agree with you 100 percent. Indian people have no brains and call anyone as anything. I am only 26 and have not had too many adults calling me uncle or aunty, but my parents ( especially my 54 year old mother) gets called as Aunty by ladies who are 45-50..its abosuletly ridiculous. I have even seen a lot of my friends who are same age or younger or older than me by 2-4 years call someone 5-6 years older than them as uncle???? I am 26, but I would never call a 36 year old as uncle or aunty…what the hell is this all about in india>?? heck my 84 year old grandmother is called as ‘dadi’ by people my parent’s age??

    I mean why cannot we just call people as Sir or Ma’am ?? or simply use the term JI ( which is also pretty acceptable) We are the laughing stock in the west, in the west once you are 16-17…you stop this uncle aunty thing ( Guess what, here in the United States, people who are 20 will not call some stranger who is 70 as grandpa….they will either call him Sir or if they know that person, they will call him by first name!! ( yes first name to a person 50 years older than them)

    I really think someone should make a awareness movie on this ( Social ettiquates) on how to address people in India…I hope this Aunty Uncle thing dies out. Guess what I am 26 now and and when I will be 40, I would be hate to be called as Uncle by someone with 2 kids and who is probably 5-10 years older than me..
    Thanks for the article Rachanaji…aapne ek bahut gehra topic pe light daala hain…. You are absolutely right….I also like your attitude of calling everyone you know regardless of their age by their first name…God bless you 🙂

    Keep rocking 🙂

  75. Yohan on March 2, 2014 at 10:54 am said:

    yes, I agree as well …Though I have not yet reached the ‘adults calling you uncle ‘ stage, I feel angry when someone who is probably few years younger than my mom call them as Aunty ( My mom has fought with some of them calling them uncle and aunty in return).

    I also get annoyed when I see any people of (any age- younger, same age, few years older )calling anyone as uncle and aunty…

    i dread to see the day when a 35 year old woman/man will call a 12 year old as uncle/aunty ( believe me, that is also possible). I mean don’t these people know how old they are before they call someone by this title?? in the west, no one even calls another person as aunty ( even if that person is much older than you)- It is really childish …

    My last take on this is

    You gave the example of the newspaper waala . Let him call any person as uncle or Aunty, uske Uncle ya aunty bolne se saamne waala aadmi uska uncle ya aunty NAHI banega..NA SAAMNE WAALE ki AGE BADEGI NA USKA PAAGAL NEWS PAPER WAALE KI AGE KAM HOGI!!!! HE IS IN A DENIAL ABOUT HIS OWN AGE- THat’s it!!!!

    It is sad that India is such an ageist society…hope it changes very fast.

    Thanks for the post . We need more professional people like you in India

  76. Poorani on March 16, 2014 at 7:56 am said:

    I was attending french classes when 2 college girls studying with me kept calling me aunty. Later I realised they did not address me with any term in front of other students. But after classes they called me aunty. The horror was when they saw my mother and called her aunty too! I was 26 then and it was worrisome.

  77. I’m so frustrated because I get called aunty a lot by kids that are under 10, I don’t even know if your blog is still active but I’m just going to rant anyway lol. I’m 20 and about 5’7 so I guess for kids height and age are directly proportional. It still irritates me plus I do live in a city where girls get married soon but that is no excuse to refer to a 20 year old girl as an aunty! I’m not even fat for goodness sake. If I was to have a 10 year old kid right now (that would mean I’d be pregnant at 10, so bizarre) then that would be acceptable but this is just getting on my nerves. It stresses me out. I do look 20 for sure but seriously, come on!

    • Mj, don’t get so stressed. Kids below 10 have no clue about age gaps etc. They call all older girls/women aunty. Just ignore or laugh it off. But if it is women who do it knowingly give it back. This is a bane of our country. Take care.

  78. Hi Rachna….

    Though I agree with your points wholeheartedly, there is one concept I would like to express here…You seem to be of the opinion that it’s okay for kids to call adults uncle or aunty. But do you think anyone is going to stop using these words once they grow up? Instead, when these kids grow into teenagers they start referring to women as sexy aunty, mallu/Gujju/ Panju aunties etc, which explain the prevalence of aunty porn in India. So, if you make a compromise and say that kids can call adults (I mean those who are not their aunts) aunts/uncles, this menace certainly will not go out of our country anytime soon! On the contrary, when an actual child calls a person aunty/uncle he/she might be doing it out of learned behavior! But then after some time, these terms become coloured (this can happen as early as 12 or 13) and just another way to judge other humans. For example, a 13 year old boys in my building complex refers to women maids as “auntie log” in a tone that says a lot of things, none which have anything to do with actual respect!!!

    • Valid point, Lyra! Well we can ask our kids not to call elders uncle and aunty but then our friends may take offense at being called by their first name. With my kids, I ask them to call my friends by their first name if I know that they will be okay with it.

  79. Simmi on July 26, 2014 at 3:29 am said:

    Hi Rachna,
    I am 17 and have studied in London for a period of time and am therefore quite used to calling people of any age by their first names. And plus in the English language, you can obviously still carry on a convo without addressing them with any moniker.
    When we moved to India recently, I was mighty pissed when people started calling my mum aunty and poor mum, she can’t even retaliate.
    Anyway I reckon it’s a very recent thing though. I love watching old Hindi films and in those I have seldom seen people addressing each other in that way.
    Plus these misguided sanskars are to blame IMO.
    Btw you are spunky, Rachna and don’t let anyone call you anything else.

  80. Sandesh on November 16, 2014 at 9:15 am said:

    Rachu Didi 🙂

    This is a great great article. I hope it goes viral and more and more people read it.
    Fuck this Uncle Aunty culture . We should put a total stop to it.

    I am 27 now and live aborad. So luckily for me I have not been a Shikaar of this uncle aunty thing.

    I like that show ‘ Comedy Nights with Kapil’ where he keeps caling all people in the audience as Sir and Ma’am. I am sure that will have some degree of impact on people and they would also call Sir and Madam instead of Uncle and Aunty while addressing strangers.

    Didi, Bhai, Bhaisaahab, Bhaiyya, Bhabhi , Sir , Madam/Ma’am, Memsaahaab , Saahab are all much better ( even though very formal) ways of addressing strangers- The Uncle and Aunty thing is just sick
    At 27 I find it very silly to call anyone under 40 as ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’ and I would also find it very offensive if someone over the age of 13 would call me Uncle- Anyone between 40-45 shall be addressed as Sir and Ma’am by me- above 45 could be described as Uncle/Sir depending on how they look and above 50 – I am comfortable calling them as Uncle

    as someone posted here- there should be a social awareness campaign on this subject.Actually the best thing that should be done is ‘-We should get rid of this whole uncle aunty crap- like how such a system does not exist in the west at all. I dream to see in the next 25 years ( when I and you really become Uncle and Aunty)- people calling us as ‘Sir’ or Madam’ instead of Uncle and aunty- how cool will that be??

    God bless you dear sweet rachu didi 🙂

    Very nice article- why are there not more people like you??

  81. Harsha Kamath on November 21, 2014 at 11:43 am said:

    Pyaari Rachna 🙂

    Another topic that actually was lingering on my mind. I cannot believe you write all things which think- Parallel Universe?? hmm… lol

    1) In my Observation, most of these adults ( 18+) who keep throwing the Aunty/Uncle tag to people a few years ( <15) older than them are uneducated/not properly educated people like paanwaala, paperwaala, Baniyas ( yeah those marwari baniyas( and their wives who sit in the stores) are the worst, smug, rude , I don't give a shit types). I don't know if this Uncle Aunty thing is done by more educated people- Please correct me if I am wrong.

    2) Though easier said than done, it is best left to ignore such things- The best approach is to correct the idiot who does this Uncle Aunty thing on the spot and then go about our normal lives- them saying Uncle or Aunty does not make you an aunty at all- unfortunately their age is not going to reduce by throwing Uncle and Aunty at other people who are few years older than them. Most probably such people are living like losers in complete denial about their own age. Once Navjyot singh Sidhu had said ' Kya sooraj ko yeh pramaan ( prove in english) karne ki zaroorat hain ki usme tej ( sunlight) hain??' which means truth can never be hidden or concealed – A person doing this uncle aunty type dirty tricks cannot run away from the truth of their own age no matter how hard they they try
    Call me silly, but after I turned 20, I hate to call anyone uncle or aunty-I used 2 feel too old and silly to call someone as Uncle- Aunty ( unless they were senior citizens) once I became an adult- such things are for kids to be honest.The best way of making someone your own, endearing them is by calling them by their first name. Nothing pleases a person more than the fact people know his name and call him by it ( which is why he was named at his birth in the first place) That is just my opinion
    3) Lastly, this is coming from my Mom and dad ( who are much more experienced)- At the end of the life , such things hardly matter- yes dear its true, one fine day we will not even give a SHIT about such things because they are so trivial in the larger scope of life. It becomes another one in the list of the trivial things/part of life such as someone taunting you about your son/daughter's less grade in school, someone passing comments at you about putting on weight, someone gossiping about your husband, someone purposely showing off to make you feel inferior etc etc-as they say Kuch toh log kahenge- logon ka kaam hain kehna 🙂 My hubby always said ' we live in a gutter full of dirt ( surroundings)- it is for us to see the Lotus ( positives) and live with it.

    Thanks Rachna for the great article. Please share your insight on my thoughts

    • Thanks, Harsha. I can see that this topic touches a raw nerve with most of us as you can see from the comments. No, I am fine now with being called aunty even by adult children. 😀 But the first time it had happened was a rude shock. Now I wouldn’t even mind if someone calls me Amma. It is quite common in the South (I live in Bangalore) to address women as Amma. Yes, I prefer to call people by their names too. It is way nicer and I see that women feel so much better when this is done. No one likes being called aunty and uncle unless they are senior citizens. I agree with what you say. Just retort and move on. No point in stewing over it.

  82. ASHUTOSH H on November 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm said:

    hahaha…

    you people are fretting about some idiots calling aunty and uncle.I will give you my story that will blow the bonkers off anyone who is reading this

    I am in my 20s right now ( 27) to be precise. About 13 years ago, as a kid in 9th standard at the age of 14, a doodhwaala bhaiyya who was actually an uncle to me ( yes he was in his late 30s to early 40s, not sure how old but he was easily atleast 35 ( I am being kind here when I say 35) and had 3 children one of my age and remaining two younger by 4 and 7 years respectively used to call me Uncle . Can anything be more stupid than that.

    a 14 year old Kid being called as a uncle by an actual Uncle who has 3 kids aged 14, 10 and 7. Additionally it goes without saying that his 3 kids would also call me uncle. It hardly offended me then as I had no concept of what ‘ Ageing’ was – ( probably I still don’t know what actual ‘ageing’ is since I am still in my 20s ). My Mom took an objection to this and told the doodhwaala uncle to stop this saying ‘ voh toh tumhare bacchon ke umar ka hain’ and instructed me to call me ‘ dadaji’ and his wife as ‘naniji’ . I did that and in 3 days he switched to beta from uncle rofl hahaha. His kids also stopped calling me ‘ Uncle’

    and I am not the only one. Later on in my college days and all, I have spoken to sandwhichwaalas, barber shop people who were 20ish ( 18-21) and would tell me- bhai tum kya baat kar rahe ho- yahan 2 bacchon ki mom hume Uncle keh kar pukaarti hain- kya kar sakte hain? So Imagine guys, even Teenagers get called as Uncle in our country by people double their age. It is one of the most irritating aspect of our country and I don’t know when it will change

    Thank you for this article. Just superb article and superb kind author 🙂

    • hahah Ashutosh. People in our country take the cake in being so uncultured. Good for you, I say about teaching them the lesson. 🙂 Happy that you connected with the post.

  83. ASHUTOSH H on November 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm said:

    ***call him dadaji**
    line mistake

  84. Pingback: Rachna says - 2014 a recap - Rachna Says

  85. Looks like a lot of people have been hurt by the A and U bombs.And I don’t blame them. No one likes to be called as Uncle and Aunty…That is why our country will never be a first world one. New buildings might come, flyovers might be built, mcdonalds and burger kings might come, people will be all tech savy….but the mentality is the same narrow minded one. In fact , it has gotten worse over the years. When I was a kid in the late 70s and 80s…I did not see this ‘Aunty’ thing that often , it has become more prevelant. It cringes me to see kids of the age 10-13 ( maybe even older)call bhelpuriwaalas, doodhwaalas who are in their late teens or early 20s atmost as ‘UNCLE’. I am like ‘ what the heck….how can someone so young be an uncle?? who the hell am I then?? A dinosour??’
    Our country has zero social etiquette. To all people frowning here,don’t feel sad., you are not the only ones who are being attacked by the A and U bombs, a lot of people are going through this. Lets face it guys, it is a part of life and there is nothing we can do about it, don’t fret too much about some random idiots uttering nonsense, life is much better than that. I don’t understand the point of some people who try to make themselves feel young by calling another person as ‘Aunty’. How is that even going to help them? Reality will never change. The Person will not become younger by calling someone else as ‘Aunty’,

    I have not even understood the concept of ‘OLD’ in India. I remember I had once seen and heard my 23 year old ( YEAH 23) relative call a 27 year old young woman as a BUNTY ( BABE +Aunty)
    since when did 27 become aunty I don’t know, maybe it is aunty for kids, but for a 23 year old to address a 27 year old as an aunty of some sort….WHACK!!!

  86. Additionally

    Calling a person by his first name is not at all disrespectful. On the contrary, a person loves being called by his first name. If someone is younger than me, he does not have to call me an’ Uncle’ to point that out to me. I can assure you that I will make that person comfortable and treat him or her as a younger brother or sister without him having the need to call me an Uncle .

    I have been called as an Uncle at the age of 40 by people of the age 20, 25, 28, 32,35, 40,45 and so on. One might think I am insecure because of the long posts I have written, But I am not, I have not fought back anyone till now and will not either because I know these things like age are not in our control, God is great and his way of justice is TIME. The fast moving weapon which will make EVERYONE OLD one day. One day we in our 40s will be gone ( in future I mean after 35-40 years hopefully) and it will be all younger lots of people today who will be facing the same music 🙂 🙂

    Ending Note- Death is a beautiful thing indeed, no more taxes, no more gaining weight, no need to go to gym, no more work,no moreworry about the state of affairs in our country , no more getting old and no need to hear the A and U bombs as well 😀 😀

  87. Yes… I am 24 years old… recently married… I visited someone’s house… they lady of that house called her daughter who is in collegea nd told he meet aunty she stays near by… I wanna kill that lady…
    And I think she is doing it deliberately because her daughter didn’t call me aunty… she didn’t address me by any adjective… but yes… that women called me yesterday and said again… “mai kab se keh rahi hu apni beti ko ki ye book aunty ko de aao… pass me hi rehti hain…” sadistic people I must say…
    I have made it a point that I won’t ever teach my kids calling someone uncle/aunty bhaiya bhabhi masi bus etc are better…

  88. Niharika on February 1, 2015 at 7:42 pm said:

    Ha ha Rachna .This post reminds me of my auntie days when I was barely 22 little plump and a little boy from neighborhood building called me ‘auntie ‘for first time that day i felt dram upset .Mockingly I narrated this incident to her on my way back home from tutions .She laughed at me and understood my situation. Saying Chood na yaar she narrated her story which was similar to my story that made us both laugh aloud ki one passer by uncle couldn’t concentrate on his work which he was doing while walking .From that day even if any body half of age called ‘Auntie’ instead of ‘Didi’ .I am ok with it 🙂 As we are living Indian society were certain protocol is observed that which can’t that easily .

  89. Gunja gupta on September 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm said:

    I newly shifted in the society…..m shocked m not in the list of young buddies because I have a kid….ohh common m just 24… Here every girl called me ,,,,n after hearing that I don’t want to go into their surrounding……it’s feels very rude what to do……my old society buddies called me bhabi or didi…m going mad here

  90. Hi

    I love this article and discussion. I am 37 and still not married however from the past few years i am being addresssed as aunty not by kids but by teenagers and older, i used to blame it perhaps on my looks as i have put a lot of weight oflate and i wear spects however i feel we Indians just know how to ape the west in dressing and food and lifestyle to some extent but dont take their respect view for individuality too seriusly.

    A girl wearing microminis in no way can be called hep and a girl with a salwar kkameez and plait called a behenji. these are just foolish reactions. I hate being called aunty but i feel i dont have enough guts to give it back. i felt asssured that there are people who feel the same. Madam is the best and the safest way to address ladies be it any age or body type and that should be put to practise than AUNTY , thanx for ur thoughts evryone gud luck!!!!!

  91. This “A” word is like a default word once you are married. And true, many older woman call younger ones aunty to hide their age. Of course it is irritating.
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  92. I am 33 & I have 2 kids of age 6 & 3. I have friends who are older than 24 years. So, what should I expect my kids to call them as? Didi?
    I don’t accept this logic… Difference between me & my colleagues might be around 5 to 7 years… I cannot expect my kids to call them Akka or didi right?

    • Of course! Who has kids at 25 these days? By that logic, our grannies used to have kids by 16 so when we were 16, we should have been called Aunty? Come on , now, don’t be jealous. They don’t qualify to be called aunties.. Even u know that.

  93. My-my! So. many responses. Now, let me tell u Aunty is a type. It’s not an age related thing. No one calls sunny Leone Aunty even though she’s married and is 34. Not even nargis fakhri. Or chitrangada Singh. Well, there are two types of women- young and old. How do u classify them?
    Young- slim, fashionable, youthful face.
    Old- fat, bad clothes, sagging face and breasts.
    You see? My friend who is 25 gets called Aunty all the time. Why? She has had a baby and now she weighs 80 kgs. She wears Kurtis or suits and ties her hair in a bun. Her breasts are saggy and she won’t even wear a push up. No wonder, she is called an Aunty. Now, my another friend who’s 33 never gets called Aunty.she’s slim, no sagging cheeks or breasts, wears smart Kurtis and tops. Never in my life have I seen anyone call her Aunty. Aunty is more of how u maintain urself. Who calls Miranda Kerr Aunty 🙂

    • That is stereotyping at its worst, Jenny. You really have no clue before you do all that generalization.
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      • thinker on September 7, 2016 at 7:27 pm said:

        i agree with jenny…age factor toh hai lekin kayi baar aap khud ko duniya k samne kaise present karte ho ispe bhi nirbhar karta hai ki woh apko aunty/uncle kahenge ya didi/bhaiya 🙁 lekin duniya k liye khud ko badlna bhi thik nahi lagta …. mere khayal se fashion se jyada comfort jaruri hai…

  94. Actually I think it is the parents who are guilty of this crime.
    When I used to be in my late 20s ( which is fairly young), I used to visit my coworkers home ( who were in this f**kin late 40s) and they had teensaged kids, like 16 and 13 year olds ..some times even 19-20 year old
    They would say
    Hi Ravi , say HI TO UNCLE…It used to piss me off,….once someone calls you Uncle , it sticks on and everyone starts calling you uncle.
    The funny part is I am 41 now and those kids are now in their late 20s,and even 30s and they still call me ‘Uncle’……and it goes without saying that their friends of same age call me uncle…how can a 32 year old call a 41 year old as an uncle?

    Parents teach kids such pathetic practices and it just moves on to next generation. The semi Literate crowds in India ( Shopkeepers, Rickshaw drivers ) take it to a whole new level.
    I hate to break the news India will always be a third world nation- regardless of the development happening ( or not) because the mentality of the people here is the most cheap and narrow!, mentality wise we will always be a third world…this whole practice of calling people Uncle, Aunty, XYZ Sir, XYZ Ma’am blah blah ONLy After knowing your age or seeing you are married is a form of an age discrimination or even a martial status discrimination. Unfortunately most people say ‘ It is a form of respect’, To hell with your respect if it makes me uncomfortable, I don’t believe it is respect, it is just the way people say ‘ hey oldiie’ in India.

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