Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Auntie Peeper

I must confess that I am wondering now that Maya's not at school how I used to keep her and Lily amused all day and every day - it feels like quite a long day! We've been doing endless jigsaw puzzles, reams of colouring and lots of visits to the park where Maya zooms round on her scooter and climbs up a big rock and plays with little Ashiswini whilst her mother sells food. It's very sweet because, despite not having one single word in common, Maya and Ashiswini get on brilliantly. They dance, chase each other and chuckle away and Andy and I have even watched them chattering in their two different languages, completely unbothered by the fact they have no idea what the other is saying! Yesterday morning, Ashiswini came over to the apartment for a little while and the three girls zipped themselves up in Lily's travel tent and made mischief.

Older women here are known as 'auntie', and I don't just mean old women, I mean that often when anyone is talking to a woman who is simply older than themselves, they refer to them as Auntie. So a child might call an adult auntie, or an adult might call an older adult auntie. It's very, very common. So this is what I am known as to Ashiswini (it makes sense really, as she'd never remember Rebecca), but imagine my bemusement yesterday in the park when not only Ashiwini staring calling to me 'Auntie! Auntie!' but also Maya! I looked around, thinking Maya was talking to someone else, but no - she was calling me! Since when did I stop being Mummy?? What made it funnier was that Maya had adopted the Indian accent version so it sounded like Unty. At that point I thought that all Maya needs now is the head wobble and she'll be well and truly there. But Andy reported later in the day that Maya DID head wobble in response to something Ashiswini said - damn, I missed it!

Speaking of Indian accents, something else Maya cries out sporadically and makes me laugh each time is Peeeeper! Peeeeper! You are doubtless wondering what this is all about. Well, here's the story: When we first turned up in India, a few times each day we heard somebody walk past the house calling out 'Peeper' with a very nasal, back-of-the-throat type voice. We had no idea what it meant but didn't think too much about it as there is always lots of noise from outside and various hoots, toots, barks and shouts going on. But on one occasion, we were leaving the house as it was being called and saw a man with a bike collecting newspapers. So this was what he was shouting - PAPER! It was a great discovery as we can give all our old newspapers in to be recycled. They even give you money to take your papers away (which we don't accept - they are doing us a favour after all). Anyway, Maya now has her impersonation down-pat and as I said, a few times a day whilst in the middle of lunch or bathtime or something, she suddenly throws back her head and shouts in a little nasal voice 'Peeper! Peeeeeeeper!' Priceless.

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