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Visit from Afzal and Sameera

Afzal and Sameera called to see Yash and me yesterday.  Afzal was very sad that Yash's father has just died.  It is just a year since Afzal's father died and he is still grieving.  So we had coffee and talked to each other for a while about how sad we all felt.  Then Afzal and and Yash went out for a short walk and Sameera and I talked to each other for a while.  Soon it was time for them to leave.  As they were going, Sameera said something to Afzal like, "Come on, sir, let's go!"  Yash, my husband, picked up on this immediately and stopped dead.  "Excuse me!  Did you just call your husband sir?" he asked Sameera.  The lady laughed and so did her husband.  Actually, Afzal runs an English language coaching institute in our part of the city and is popularly known as 'Afzal Sir'.  Afzal explained that his wife called him by his first name at home, but that in public, she refers to him as sir, or 'Afzal Sir'.  Then he asked about me.  My husband jokingly said that I shout his name around the house all the time.  Then it was my turn to laugh.  "Ah, don't mind him, he's telling lies!" I said.

I do call my husband by his name.  All Irish women do that, and I'm no different.  But I don't shout my husband's name around the house, as it's not the done thing here.  My father-in-law told me that women in his community don't call the husband by name because it is not the custom to address elders by their first name and for most women in India, the husbands are generally elder.  I'm not one to go against the  accepted customs, so I don't call out his name.

This morning, I had to call Yash for breakfast.  He was getting ready for work and had disappeared.  Lots of senior relatives are around right now.  Don't want to shock them.  So I called out 'suno' (listen) like my mother-in-law used to call her husband.  No reply.   I tried the more polite 'suniye'.  Same result.  Then I called out 'where are you?'  No joy.  Finally, I told my son "go and tell that father of yours, wherever he is,  to come over here and eat his breakfast. Now!"  That did the trick.  He appeared within thirty seconds.

It's just as well I have plenty of children.


  1. I find this strange. I never needed to call out my husband's name, because he was always whistling as he moved or worked about the house or garden, all I had to do was listen and follow his birdsong!

  2. I think you took the right short cut there, Gaelikaa. Though wait till your children listen to music at such ear drum shattering levels that they won't hear you either when the meal is ready.

    Rather interesting subject of what people call each other. My son calls me 'Mama'; yet right from when he was little, despite my references to 'Papa', has always addressed his father by his first name.


  3. I don't know that I could do that. I wouldn't want to purposefully shock my neighbors but if I was in your place and my husband married a western woman then he would be expected to have a western wife and his family as well. Respect and understanding is a two way street. I wouldn't be rude to my in-laws but I would certainly call my husband by his name.

  4. As usual, I found your post deligtful. Please forgive me for not commenting for so long. My sister and her family were visiting me (from Texas) for almost a month!

    Now I'm back to my blog and more writing activities. I want to thank you so much for inspiring others through your comments to me during the last year. Writers have lonely professions. When we get together through our blogs we can find simple joy in the beauty of words and friendship.

  5. It's a very strange custom isn't it? Do you ever forget and shout out his name?

    We have a little confusion with my husbands name. He hates his first name and I have always known him by his surname, which he prefers..and which most of his friends use. However I have to try to remember to refer to him by his first name when any of his family are around because they don't find it acceptable to use his surname. Of course there is additional confusion because it's my surname also!

  6. The standing joke in America is (modified to my name) that you can call me Con, you can call me Conrad, you can call me JC ... just don't call me late for dinner!

    Fits this situation pretty well!

    As long as there is love and respect, the name can be whatever suits.

  7. My daughter called me Mommy when she was little, Mom once she grew up. She has always called my husband Father. Once when she was talking to my husband's mother his mother commented about when my husband was a little boy. Kaitlin said, "Father, a little boy?" It was a new concept for her. My MIL said, Yes, your father was a little boy once and your mother was a little girl." Kaitlin said dismissively, "Oh, I know about my mother, but Father, a little boy?" It just cracked me up.

  8. I call my husband by his pet name, as he calls me by mine, would that be a way around it?

  9. Gaelikaa, in Maharashtra, women call their husbands, Aaho! Tambrahms call theirs, Yenna! Aji suno,is very Hindi. My late wife always called me by my name or some term of enderment like Darling, when she forgot my name. Her mother called her husband "Listen!" I used to call Urmeela, Ranjan ki Maa to get her goat up.

  10. Anu. Ashok and now Elly call me Ramana Sir!

  11. It must be difficult to remember all these cultural things that could cause offence.
    In Japan it is rude to blow your nose in public.It is also not the done thing to say *no*

    Nuts in May

  12. What a fascinating life you must lead. The idea of experiencing new cultures is thrilling to me. I can imagine that the children are learning to appreciate the different ways that people live. That will be the key to a beautiful, peaceful planet. When we have knowledge, that is, when we have an understanding of different ways of living, we aren't as afraid of the differences. If we aren't afraid, perhaps we will be more calm and tolerant of our neighbors.

    By giving this gift to your children, you are making the world a better place.


    Denise Burks


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