Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't Call me " Bhai"?

Pakistan has been kissed ( or perhaps French kissed) by the American culture. We have all those eateries like Mcdonald, KFC, Dunkins, Burger King, Hardees etc.

One peculiar thing I have seen in all three of my recent offices, is that men frown on being called a " Bhai" ( Brother, Hermano). Probably they are ticked off by the complete impossibility of a romance with a so-called
sister. Strange thing is that they don't mind being called brother by their own sex.

Now, of course I don't call people my own age " brother". But the seniors,married and aged, won't like being called uncles. Should I call them by their first name? In the west, people either call you by your first name or last- never attach a relationship. There is also no age digression- a 50 year old John is like the 18 year old John you know- you won't call one uncle and the other son. But thats not us. We don't call our elders from their first name. This doesn't mean we respect them more- its just culture.

Secondly, in the west, same sex physical contact is not acceptable. The only time you touch or hug your same-sex friend is when you are both gays. And there is a romance blooming. This again isn't part of our culture. Here, casually walking hand in hand, hugging on meeting, touching while talking is acceptable and not homosexual. But this again is changing. It is a common joke on many college campuses, that some two friends are so touchy touchy. Most part of it has been caused by movies like " Kal Hu na Hu" and " Dostana".

Most of us need to pause on these lines. Do we want the age -digression , commonly known as " umar ka lehaaz" to be removed and go down to calling people by their first names? Secondly, casual touching between two friends is gay? Watch any cricket match audience and you will notice how common it is. Even inter-personal space is very limited in Pakistan. Do we want to be so rigid in our body language that all same-sex bodily touch is homosexual?


  1. If they don't like you calling them 'Bhai', how about option C. Call them 'Beta'. I remember my mom using it. She got so used to calling everyone 'Beta' that even dukaandars twice her age, with long,white beards would be called 'Beta'. "Beta zara firozi wala kapra dikhao." It's amazing how they wouldn't even flinch or show any bewilderment. Must have been used to confused desi women. My mom was so used to using that word she once even accidentally called my dad 'Beta'. Anyways, beware of calling people things they obviously aren't :P

  2. i usually say bhai sahab to piss someone off :P koi bhai nahi hai mera

  3. I hate this amalgamation of other cultures in ours, terms like gay and lesbian are so commonly being used, this gets disgusting, sexuality shouldn't be openly discussed the way it is being discussed by kids.

    And yes, I wonder why guys hate being called bhai =/ sick sex-oriented mentality!

  4. Very good post Ammara. I have no answers to your questions though. I'd like to say just one thing: I really enjoy the frown on those men's faces when I call them 'Bhai'.. and even more when I call them 'Uncle'.. ahahah! :-D

  5. the popular opinion is that men r not age conscious- very untrue! men want to remain forever young!

  6. thanks for the feedback everyone!

  7. n u know its not only men but girls too... iv seen it alot in kolg.. 1st semester ki larkiyan r made fun off when they call a senior baji.. lol oh n i just remembered this there was this peon in ma school.. he was there even before we started school in 2nd grade khair bachpan sa we used to kall him baba jee bt a level ma a k he actually told us k ussa baba jee na bulain....



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