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As I devoured a novel by Tarquin Hall, I found myself deep in thought over a moniker that the author used in a sentence: "On benches arranged along the sidelines, aunties dipped their toes into cool water and ate spicy dhokla." Aunty. Who exactly is an aunty? What characteristics must you have to qualify as one? One of my earliest memories of Hindi film comedy is a supposedly stylish woman saying, "Mujhe aunty mat bolo." Many years later, aunty jokes still abound...
If I live in India again will I get it all back? Will it be the same as it was before? Even if I rediscover the ability to push my car through small spaces with a staid face, will I be able to erase the immutable changes my mind has undergone over the last one and a half decades and revert it to its pre-immigration state? Will I be at home or will I this time around look for home in American movies?
Coming to the US for people who belong to a rich background or even the upper echelons of the middle class can be quite humbling. Neither are they used to doing any of their personal work by themselves nor can they afford the level of household help they're used to having. They are seriously handicapped at this point, as self-reliance is something they have never learnt. I see my own reflection in them as I was when I first entered my new homeland.