Aglio e olio

Aglio e Olio

I was watching the Bigg Boss show over the weekend. One of them (doesn’t matter which one) said that he wanted to call the other his dad. Then his dad would be his periappa, his periappa his thaatha, his thaatha a mama? I know Vijay TV shows are primed for drama. Judges on shows often become the dad, mom, brother, sister, grandfather or grandmother. No, not yet wifes or husbands. However this phenomenon is not restricted to TV shows. I see this everywhere around me. The auto and cab men are “Anna” (brother). The flower selling lady and the maid are “akka” (sister). I’ve seen people call their in-laws “Amma” (mom) and “Appa” (dad). How does that work? How do you manage that kind of love? Or conversely how do you manage that kind of insincerity? I am willing to believe it is love. I am just not comfortable with having to call them that. On one side is the insensitive undermining of important relationships. The woman who will make a new tiffen for me at 10 pm because I threw a tantrum about dinner, the woman who will hunt down all the lizards in the house for my sake, the woman who never made me feel guilty about waking up late (and left me totally unprepared for the rest of the world) can only be my amma (mother). No mother -in-law, aunt, teacher or anyone else can be my amma. I can call no one else “Amma”, not even Jayalalitha. The other side of the argument is the basic sincerity that I feel I owe to the auto guy, the courier person or my mother-in-law. I wouldn’t want to say something I didn’t mean, not even to the HDFC woman who calls me every day at 11 in the morning asking me if I want a personal loan. This atrocious metaphorical substitution for when you want to make someone feel extra special, when you are lazy to look for the precise descriptor, when you err on the side of dishonesty is a special kind of low that is unique to this age we live in. This is not even just about people referring to other people. Look at the food world. Cauliflower rice is not rice. It is cauliflower mince. Oothappam or dosa or flatbread topped with cheese and veggies do not make a pizza. They are vegetable cheese...
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