Friday, July 13, 2012

Pakkathu veettu aunty and you - part1/2

Pre script 1: Absolutely NOM to all the aunties I know.
Pre script 2: Not a gilma story, if you are expecting that. Apologies for that.
Pre script 3: Pakkathu veettu aunty means 'next door aunty'

If you are a guy born in a tam-brahm family in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, chances are high that your life has been shaped up by various aunties and uncles, who unfortunately form the society. The influence starts right from the day you are born; Aunties - they may be your mother's friends, relatives, colleagues or anyone else, but let's call them Pakkatthu veettu aunties - have something or the other to say or advice about every aspect of life right from day 1 be it the frequency of breast-feeding, kind of food that should be given to you and basically everything. In fact, the influence of Pakkathu veettu aunties on your life may trace back to the days you were inside your mother's womb, or worse, even before that!

The relationship between you and the Pakkathu veettu aunty starts early, and unfortunately never ends. One aunty or the other always has a child who is older than you are, and for reasons best known to them, they try to frame your life the way they shaped their child's. Your parents may have paid the fees and may accompany you to school on the first day of LKG, but little do you know that some random aunty has selected that particular school for you.

A few years down the line - supposed to be the formative years of any kid - you develop interest towards various sports (which invariably will be cricket). You wish you could join a coaching camp or something but there will always be an aunty who was born on this planet to spoil your fun. "Cricket soru poduma? My son is learning carnatic music. He is only 10 years old but he's already going to perform in kutcheries. You know Usha? Her son is going to arts classes. How well they draw...".  And the next day, you find yourself in some aunty's house - drawing random flowers and animals - or  singing shouting 'saaa paaa saaaa paa saaaaa' with other unfortunate kids of your age.  Somehow, after a few months or years, you manage to escape all these tortures but the aunties aren’t finished yet.  It is impossible to know how, but Pakkathu veettu aunties somehow know the dates of exams and the dates of results more than the teachers or students themselves. They will be the first one to wish you on the day of the board exams in Tenth standard but will silently be hoping that you don't score more than their child. After the exams, they will ask for your roll number and volunteer to check your result. Whether or not you give the roll number doesn't matter. Pakkathu veettu aunties will somehow get to know your results even before you or CBSE do. And the first thing they do after finding your result? Call your mother.

"Oh.. your son got 430 ah?  Decent score. My son ah? He got 431. Super score. I am planning to put him in DAV. Why don't you also put him in DAV or PSBB? These schools are the best in town, especially if he wants to do biology. 100% doctor in 2 years! That's what Vimala did to her son..."
And lo! There you are sitting in one of those schools, where you know absolutely noone. It doesn't matter if all your friends have stayed back in the same school it doesn't matter if you know nobody in the new school. Why, it doesn't matter if the school is actually better or not. Because, your mom pakkatthu veetu aunty has already decided.

But you do manage to adjust and find new friends wherever you go. It's somehow easy to socialize if you are neither a topper nor a guy who flops, because you fall into the majority and get along with everyone easily. You find out pretty soon that MBBS is not an option for you, as you basically suck too much to become a doctor. Your Pakkathu veettu aunty gives you the next best option - AIEEE - and you invariably end up in one of those tuition centres. You complete 11th, 12th, AIEEE and every other exam and, as it always happens, you don't know where to go next. The toppers join IITs or NITs, the floppers pay money and get into some college. It's the guys in the middle - like you - who don't know where to head. But worry not! There are enough aunties in the world who have a wealth of experience in career consulting and related fields and they will always be there to help you out.

"ECE!"  shouted Meghala aunty, as all women aged 45 to 55 in the neighbourhood assembled at your place to decide your future. Samosas and Cutlets were made by your mom, of course.
"no no. EEE is better. That college in Meghalaya is very good and famous for EEE", said Manjula aunty.
"Why not CSE or IT? Computers are the future of the world! You should study IT in that college in Nagaland" said Lakshmi aunty, who sure doesn't know how to switch on a PC.
"No way! Anyone can learn computers from NITT or something. He should study Chemical engineering. That college near Kashmir? One person I know studied there.  You should also study" said one random aunty as she walked past the door.
Amidst all this, you somehow manage to gather enough courage to speak up "Aunty... I am thinking of doing Viscom. I am interested in that line...”A stunned silence fills the room as you complete the words. How dare you say something like that? Kala aunty is visibly insulted and gets up to walk out of the house. Your mother gives a disapproving glare at you, and you are forced to go silent again.
"Haha, kids these days... kannaaa, all this viscom and all doesn't have any future pa. Ok I have decided! You should do B.Tech, CSE in XYZ college of Engineering. That's the best option for your score!" All the aunties looked at each other and nodded in approval as the oldest aunty in the room - Kuchalaambal aunty - had the final say. CSE it would be! You realise that it doesn’t matter in which school you study, what course you study, how much score you get in CBSE or AIEEE – you will end up in one of those millions of engineering colleges in the state.

Unfortunately, aunties don't stick to career-advises. Aunties are everywhere in the world. Probably even inside Men’s toilets. To realise the power of the aunty-network, go out on a bike with a girl. Your college may be in some other city but aunties and friends of aunties will be there to spy on you.  The aunty will know about your relationship before your best friend does. And worse, the aunty will make sure that your mom knows.

“Hey vatsala.. I came to Coimbatore for a function dee. Your son is also studying here no? How is he studying?” the aunty has already called your mom.
“He is studying well, he says something about CGPA but I don’t understand all that..”
“Oh, ok. Ask him to study well. Oh I forgot to tell you.. I saw him today near RS Puram actually. You got him a bike? He was doing some stunts there. A girl was also behind him.. okay anyway take care. Ask him to study well..”
“Bike? No I didn’t get him any. Ok.. I’ll talk to him. Bye”

And there, the relationship with the girl breaks up even before it actually existed.
It only gets worse from there. Aunty-torture attains its peak during the 4th year of engineering. They give so many career tips on GRE, TOEFL, MS, CAT, MBA etc that you actually wonder why they aren't running a counselling firm for profit. Unfortunately for you, the sons of all these aunties are invariably toppers in whatever they do and are either studying MBA in the IIMs or doing their MS in one of the top universities in USA. 

"Kannaa you know Vimala aunty's son? He's doing MS in Stanford. My son also got an admit in Stanford but he didn't want to go abroad. He is studying in IIM A. Kamala aunty's daughter? She is doing her Ph.d in USA! This is a crucial year for you. use Barrons GRE 12th edition for preparation, mug all the words there. It might be difficult initially but work hard. Write GRE in July, TOEFL in august and then you will have enough time to prepare for CAT. After CAT, you can ....................................."

Your mind doesn't register half of what she says but your head automatically nods. "I don't give a fuck about your son or Vimala's son. Does Kamala's daughter look good?", is what you want to say, but your voice says "Oh great, aunty.. I will prepare well". And of course, you end up writing all those exams without knowing why you actually are. At the end of 4 years of engineering, you realise one thing: it doesn’t matter where you do engineering, what engineering you do, and how much you score in engineering. You will end up in one of the 4 IT majors if you are in India, or continue your studies with an MS or MBA course. Nothing else.


  1. 'Cricket soru poduma?' I use this line now A LOT at my folks and aunts and uncles cos it does for me. Hahahahaha, sweet #win!

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  3. This was a really good one! i could relate ever incident to myself, ha ha! :D i wish i could add on to ur rants being a tam-brahm gal myself .. lol :D

  4. @M - im tempted to ask.. neenga IPL la aadreengala?:)
    @Bharathi - yes, a girl's version wuld help!

  5. enjoyed reading.. got good experience like this.. :) :)

  6. That was a great message in my carrier, and It's wonderful commands like mind relaxes with understand words of knowledge by information's.
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  7. Thank you for post and your blog. My friend showed me your blog and I have been reading it ever since.Tamil News

  8. Thanks for the informative article.This is one of the best tips in my life. I have in quite some time.Nicely written and great info.I really cannot thank you enough for sharing.

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