When Lathi bhaiyya, Vindi chachi and Bunny bua showed up at my doorstep bag and baggage, I was surprised. (Understatement of the year!) Chachi prefers my brother’s home because he is traditional (touches feet and is respectful). But it was their baggage that woke me up faster than any cup of tea.
Lathi bhaiyya - and everyone calls him that because he prefers to let his lathi speak for him - was selected to go abroad (don’t ask!) but with a caveat: he needs to learn the ways of the world before he is let loose upon unsuspecting firangs. And suddenly I realised that there is no finishing school for boys. Not even one that teaches them how sitting with their knees apart, shaking a leg impatiently is rude.
I spent a minute laughing to myself as the kettle whistled when I realised bua had followed me to the kitchen.
‘All the foreigners will be like Rambo naa, and you can’t take laathi on flight. That’s why he needs to learn manners.’
I so badly wanted to rant about how women need to teach their sons right from the start so this bizarre sense of entitlement would not take root in the heads. However, I stopped because I was glad my rough, lathi wielding cousin realised that he needed help.
How to Shake Hands
It’s like a namaste. You are expected to shake hands only once. The first time you meet someone formally.
If you are confused, wait for them to extend their hand. Otherwise a good morning/afternoon/evening’ should suffice. In case you are meeting co-workers, then a ‘hello’ is enough.
Yes, it is weird when you see men shake hands at McDonalds (or at CCD). For all his lathi wielding ways, Jagga bhaiyya had noticed that women rolled their eyes or clutched their bags, and phones tighter and said hello to avoid shaking hands in his office canteen.
Why? Because you guys either squeeze the heck out of their fingers as though there was finger juice to be extracted, or were just looking to touch a woman, even though it was her hand. Plus your palms must be sweaty, with all that chest thumping with fists…
‘So, I must not tickle her palm with my finger or rub my thumb in an arc of the top of her palm?’
‘No! What are you, Ranjeet or Amitabh Bachchan?’
My mistake introducing a filmi thread, because chachi adds a gossipy question, ‘Suna hai real life mein ulta hai, Ranjeet bhala aadmi hai aur...’
Bhaiyya was not distracted, however. ‘Ranjeet never shakes hands. He just pulls women to hug them.’
‘Speaking of hugs. There are rules.’
How To Hug
You are not a bear, neither is it Eid. You will not hug and lift up the person or twirl them round and round even if they are lighter than you. Everybody is lighter than you.
Lathi bhaiyya swells visibly with pride.
‘Hazar hazar dand pelte hain!’
That is good. But polite hugs mean lean from the waist and pat the other person’s back.
I look at Lathi bhaiyya’s expression.
And no. That hand on the back is not there to pat everywhere on the back to figure out if the lady is wearing a bra.
Lathi bhaiyya is upset that I think so poorly of him. he leaves the room. I guess lesson one is over.