Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Dummy's Guide to Paeri Pauna

While “bending over” and “going down” on your family members may have incestuous connotations in the West, it is quite the way of offering respect to your elders in India. The question of whether to paeri-pauna or Namaste an elder has an answer as simple as that to the question of peanut butter or jelly: it’s best to go with both. However, in this age of time-is-money, here’s a little guide to help you demarcate the paeri-pauna worthy from the Namaste candidates.

The thumb-rule to follow in performing a good paeri-pauna is to remember that there is an inverse relationship between the level of generation and the extent to which you must bend: older the generation, lower you bend.

So, a well performed paeri-pauna on your dada-dadi and nana-nani is one in which you bend it like it’s yoga time and reach for their feet. The chacha-chachi’s, mama-mami’s and bua-fufa’s can be satisfied by just touching their knees. The only exceptions here are the ones who complain of goddey-mein-dard. Their age puts them at a weird stage where despite belonging to your parents’ generation, they’re retired and have grandchildren. In another twenty years, you can expect them to be all: Main toh apne par-potey ko goad mein khila ke jaaungi. With such stubbornness on their part, it is best to round up their generation level and reach for their feet, lest you want a lecture on your sanskaar.

Moving your hands upwards for the even younger generation, it is completely acceptable for you to bust your cousins’ nuts. Most of them deserve it anyway, given how they have to be all good in the eyes of your parents and cause those unhealthy comparisons.

Moving on to more complicated relationships such as friends of said elders, you must touch the feet of all your grandparents’ friends. Given how most of them are above the age of seventy, they are used to everyone touching their feet all the time. It becomes a habit: you try to break it, they break you. So, be in their good books and go all the way. Offering to carry their veges whenever you run into them in the colony gets you extra aashirwad points.

However, there’s no real requirement for you to touch your parents’ friends feet. A warm Namaste with a fake smile that shows such joy on meeting them like they’re doppelgangers of Deepika Padukone will be enough to feed their egos. Unless your parents ask you to touch their feet, which is mostly a subtle hint towards: kucch saal ruk jaao, inki dosti ko rishtedaari mein badlenge. Take some learning from the above and know that even though “Hi, uncle” and “Hi, aunty” seem perfectly fine to you whenever you see your friends’ parents, if it’s someone from the opposite sex you’re trying to impress, remember that the way to his/her parents’ hearts is through their feet.

Now that the basics are clear to you, be careful and avoid some traps that a few relatives may set up. If some elders stop you from paeri-pauning them, not letting you touch their feet with words like, “arrey arrey, buddha banayega humein”, you must not throw in the towel, but keep pushing to touch their feet even if they bend and grab your arms. ‘Cuz if you give up, you will bring immense embarrassment for your parents, who will force you to touch the said elders’ feet, while arguing with them through the words, “arrey, baccha hai aapka”. And if you emerge victorious, you will make your parents’ chhaati swell because of the sanskaars they have raised you with.

Another situation that commands attention is a family function when all the relatives stampede the arena one after the other. You may feel like saving on some energy and keep touching all the pairs of feet, one after the other, as they appear in a continuous order, without even looking up to see who you’re greeting with such respect. I know it’s tempting to bend once and finish it all at once, but watch out for the cousin who will walk in right at the end of the queue and you will end up touching his feet. A slight chuckle might follow, causing you much embarrassment and restraint from busting his balls in front of all the elders present. Be alert to avoid such faux-pas!

And if by now, you’re sick of realizing how you respect others while no one respects you, know that the Golden Rule of Paeri-Pauna applies the other way round too. Younger the generation, least you bend to touch them with your hands. Haven’t your parents been paeri-pauning you on your face all through the years? What more respect do you want!

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  1. *falling interest level in the blog*
    what happened to you? @
    please write something good next time

    1. "Good" is a vague adjective. Suggest a topic and I'll write about it if it interests me. :)

  2. This is super duper amazing! The story of my life completely! Coming from the biggest joint family ever..I have had horrible incidents of "lets touch everyone's feet together and get this over with" theory get back fired! I would have my jijas rolling in devil laugh :-p extremely relatable!!!

    1. Hi, Richa :D

      Happens to me all the time! Actually, you could touch your jija's feet, no?

    2. Hehehe! In our case, no! The jijas have an open license to flirt with their saalis, no touching feet!

  3. What do YOU feel like doing,do that.
    Do not stoop because you have to.
    And the topic was not interesting enough to give it such attention.
    Say aloud to these elders,"consider your feet touched paape".

  4. I've never had to PP anyone - in fact, when I was a kid and tried to do it, I was discouraged with a firm, "kudiyan paeri hath ni lagandiyan" - but the whole business has always been a mild source of amusement, especially at family functions. I remember, when my cousin got married, the reception was like some weird dodging game for her whenever she met a new sasural vaala. To bend, or not to bend - that was the question. xD

    I've always considerd it to be one of the good things about Indian culture, even though it's riddiculous that North Indians don't allow girls to do it. So, have some delicious, freshly fried jalebis for writing this. @@@@@

    P.S.: NaNoWriMo is over, but you should still write a novel!

    1. Did you write a novella for NaNoWriMo? Idhar blog pe post karne ka time nahi milta, bhayi! Too much work is happening, yo.

    2. Me? No way. Not one for spouting interesting plots is my brain. Writing essays is one thing. I could even re-interpret a story, perhaps. But creating a new one is not my cuppa.

      Yeah, man. I get it. Time kahan hai? I never fail to be amazed by people who handle real jobs along with novel writing.

  5. Coming from a South Indian family, we do pp only on important vacations. But being a Mumbaikar, I'm alien to that too.
    And yet, you could actually make me imagine how tough it is to get the pp right! :P
    Great work done. (y)

    1. Hi, Hasanthi!

      Random, but I saw your message in HT Brunch three weeks ago :D

    2. Sarthak Ahuja saw my message in HT Brunch! *faints*
      P.S: I haven't seen it yet! That day my stupid newspaper wala was not there, so I still do not know what exactly has been published and I was too lazy to go check on the internet. But I'm glad people saw it! :P

  6. @@@@@
    i really liked the comparison with cousins point!!
    nice writing....keep it up and keep earning jalebis!

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If you had 5 Jalebis, how many would you give me for writing this post?

None = You don't deserve any >:O
@ = Soggy and stale! :(
@@ = Stale! :|
@@@ = I'll need a samosa to digest this with! :P
@@@@ = Sweet and Crisp! :)
@@@@@ = I'm opening you a Halwai Shop! :D