Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The problem with being an uncle


This blogger is of an age when being called an uncle is rather a compliment. He is precariously close to being called a grandpa. So much so that he cannot understand the brouhaha that the term "uncle" has caused.

The Air India flight from Jaipur to Delhi , a few days back, should have been an uneventful one. Incidentally, I am not sure why Air India is running a flight from Jaipur to Delhi .  The distance is short and tourists usually drive. Perhaps the appalling state of NH8 in that stretch  is giving Air India an opportunity.

Be that as it may, it should have been a short smooth flight. Passengers had boarded and the crew were doing their pre flight checks. It so happened that the Captain was a young guy and the Co pilot was, ahem,  a rather older guy. Reportedly, the Captain said "Uncle please fill in the card".

It is well known that men of a certain age are rather touchy about being reminded of that fact. That is why Viagra is the blockbuster it is ! Our co pilot took immediate umbrage to being called an uncle (I suppose he would have been tickled pink if the Captain had instead said - "Bachche isko fill kar" !!). He decided to show the young upstart that his physical prowess had not waned. Up he stood and it appears some sort of a confrontation took place. I speculate that the altercation was more verbal than physical - an sudden attempt by men of advanced years to stand erect is usually not successful. Well, whatever happened, the crew decided in the best of Air India's tradition, that passengers must get from Point A to Point B and the flight took off.

Now young straplings who are chastised by "uncles" often howl in outrage. That's exactly what happened. The Captain reported the incident at the end of the flight. Obviously an enquiry has been ordered and pending the outcome, both the "bachcha" and "uncle" have been derostered.

The enquiry proceedings will undoubtedly make interesting reading. Leading counsel shall submit the chronological qualifications for being called an uncle. To the best of my knowledge, the term uncle has not been defined in the constitution as an unparliamentary word. The trouble is that for a certain portion of a male's life it is a deeply offensive word and at a later portion in the same man's life it is a deeply complimentary word.  I am looking forward to the enquiry findings which shall conclusively prove that I am not of that age when it has become compliment. I shall use this evidence to bash the next idiot in my building who calls me that.

But, thank God for the fact that women pilots are relatively, rarer. Imagine the consequences if the copilot was a lady, of ahem, matronly disposition and the young man had said "Aunty, please fill in the card" ! We just escaped a nuclear Armageddon !

19 comments:

Ravi Rajagopalan said...

I am called Uncle quite a lot now. Malayali nurses at the Breach Candy Hospital would smile coyly and call me Angil. All part of growing up my friend!

J said...

That's funny! This issue is quite tricky. Nowadays, I err on the side of seeming disrespectful by calling significantly older Indian men and women by their first name so that they don't get offended by the "uncle/aunty" label :) Though I think there are many who enjoy the stature granted by those labels. I think only those less than 20 should call people uncle or aunty. After that, we are all grown adults and thus equal. Ok, maybe that's a tad insecure :)

Ramesh said...

Really ? I think the Malayali nurses were being charitable to you. They didn't want to hurt your feelings by calling you with the more appropriate title :)

Ramesh said...

OK. I shall call you J instead of by the correct label :)

gils said...

rotfl :D:D:D nuclear Armageddon it will be :D thala in full form

Sanjay Balachandran said...

Well uncle is not the main reason. It may be the professional grudge of the older co pilot having to report to younger pilot

Ramesh said...

Thank you Gils uncle :)

Ramesh said...

Possibly. But the funny side of it all is good enough to take some extra journalist's license :)

Sriram Khé said...

This is a situation for you to, ahem, "Say 'uncle'! ;)

Appu said...

I still get confused on how to call people, Uncle or Anna or Sir! However I get an odd feeling when kids or parents tell their kids to call me Uncle!

gils said...

oru co pilota kovakara pilot aakina kathai ingayum repeat aaga poguthu :D:

Ramesh said...

Gilsu in terrific form. One mokkai after another :)

Ramesh said...

Ahem, Indeed !

Ramesh said...

You should be called Kiddo (by the likes of me) and Uncle (by everybody else ) :)

Vincy said...

Such an Hilarious post :-) :-) subtlity in humour is always well appreciated. Except the nuclear armageddon part - I take that as a gender bias from you, "Uncle".

Having said that in a lighter tone, Ramesh I feel at work it is quite inappropriate for the Pilot to have used the term ' Uncle'. I find it ridiculous that instead of being called by his first name or last name, this person chose to use this term. At work it is important to be professional, and adress your co-workers using the right terms. I coming from the HR side and if you do not have that maturity then there is nothing wrong in being derostered. Now, the co-Pilot who was addressed that term could have also been professional in explaining whatever his problem was, rather than get into a altercation be it physical or verbal.
I guess this has got to do with our culture and the way we are brought up in a certain way, where our parents have taught us to address older people with these generic terms. I guess in my case, IT industry has failed my parents miserably, I can call anyone with their first names, that these days i need to take care not to call my relatives with their first names and rather than their suitable adjectives.
And i have to tell you this. During my morning walks, there is a certain girl who looks old enough to be a working professional, addressing me with this term " Aunty" Oh she pays me a lot of compliments like how my hair is shiny, and how I do not need exercise and a lot more.. all those compliments just vanishes into thin air after she addresses me that. J has a good laugh whenever this girl calls me an Aunty. One of the days I told if i am an aunty you definitely are an Unlce. with that his sarcastic laughter has stopped.

Sandhya Sriram said...

Oh, i have overcome that phase Ramesh. as my life outside work revolves around Samarth and all his friends call me aunty - so, no longer I feel odd anymore.

Do you remember there used to be a hair dye add where the guy was called Uncle and then, he dyed his hair - i think, somewhere we are subtly programmed to recognise the word uncle or aunty as a sign of someone poking at we being older, whereas the reality is that whether the person calls you uncle or Mr. so and so, you are what you are.

But i do agree with Vincy, in a professional set up, there is no space for Uncle or whatever. So, i would support the poor uncle for complaining!!

Ramesh said...

Touche :)

Yes, of course, its all a storm in a teacup. Neither of the two guys should have created an incident on this. Still, it gave us some material to blog about :)

We all have our stories of somebody addressing us, shall we say, not to our liking. Imagine what J would do if that certain girl asked you if you were walking with your Uncle :):):):)

Ramesh said...

Such are the occupational hazards of motherhood !!! You should continue to be called a "gaal" for another decade at least :)

Anonymous said...

Its a conflict between outer voices and our inner voice. giving more weight-age to inner voice will avoid the trap of outer voices.

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