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Relative Positions.....

When I attended a family wedding recently, the marriage of my husband's first cousin's son at a distant location, I was astounded to learn that I am already a grandmother!  That's right!  I was introduced to several new children in the family as 'Nani' (mother's mother).  How did this happen?

In north India where I live, the father's mother is known as 'Daadi' and the mother's mother as 'Nani'.  In fact, not only the father's mother, but all her sisters and sisters-in-law are to be given the same respect.  Likewise with the mother's mother.  Not only she, but all her sisters and sisters-in-law are also known as 'Nani'.  This is how I got this honour.  My children were thrilled to learn that they were already uncles and aunts.  My fourteen year old son was delighted to be introduced to several little ones as 'Chachaji' (father's younger brother) and 'Mamaji' (mother's brother).  It didn't bother my daughters a great deal either way.  My youngest son Nitin (aged 6) was a little disturbed, though.

The other day, Nitin whispered to me "Mummy, am I Gauri's Chacha?"  Gauri is the granddaughter of my husband's eldest cousin Sunidhi.  Nitin wasn't happy at all.  Gauri is definitely not a niece for him.  She is just an annoying little girl who got on his nerves for some indeterminate reason.  "I don't want to be her Chacha, I don't like her!" he said.  I reassured him that they probably will not be meeting again for a long time.  What else could I say?  Well, Gauri lives in Mumbai, far away from Lucknow, so it's probably safe enough to promise him this. 

It's quite acceptable to be a grandmother at forty six, but as I married over the age of thirty, I thought I was going to have to wait a few years more for this seniority to be conferred on me.  Especially if my children follow my example and marry as late as I did.  I will not be a 'young' grandmother.  But that's okay.  Anyway, it's nice that I can enjoy grandchildren even in this age thanks to the Indian family system!


  1. I really enjoy your stories of life in India.

  2. Here in Italy I am called "Autie" by all of my cousin's children (many many... a lot!) :-)
    The poor Nitin... being an uncle so young and moreover to a girl he doesn't like! ;-)

  3. Hello grandmother gaelikaa :)

    It is rather the same in the Malay system. If any of your cousins is a grandmother than your title is also a grandmother to the cousin's grandchildren. In fact, I had become a grandmother too so recently when my cousin had her first grandchild.

  4. What a lovely system...a kind of practise run at being a real grandmother. I guess grandparents these days are older, now that many couples are choosing to wait longer to start families.

    Hope you and your family have a Happy Christmas xxxx

  5. well congratulations! yet another interesting glimpse into the traditions. this seems quite lovely even if nitin is less than pleased.

  6. FAR too young,, I mean.... but it is lovely, nonetheless. I wouldn't like it at all, I think but I appreciate the sentiment behind it. xx

  7. Even after 40 years, I'm still confused by all this extended family stuff. I married at 27 and had my first child at 28 and due to my daughter's extended education and late marriage herself, I became a grandmother at 60. It would have been much easier physically to deal with grandchildren at a younger age, even 50 when I was still "young". I think I must look ancient to my grandchildren, as I remember my own grandparents always looking very old. I look back now and realise how young that actually were in their 40s and 50s! To each his own I guess.

  8. Gaelikaa, welcome to the club! We are both Honorary Grandmothers now, in my case it is to half the nation. At least there is no nappy changing! lol.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  9. Congratulations! I love traditions that are so female affirming!

  10. I am so out of time and have no spare moment to read your lovely post; shame on me. But I will return in a few days.:)
    Meanwhile I would just like to thank you for your friendship and wish you and your family wonderful Holidays and all the best in the New Year.

  11. And, you want to extend your family by adopting another huge big one from Pune and most parts of the country! My 'grandsons and granddaughters' have become parents and at 66 I am a great grand father.

  12. poor nitin:) Little girls can be trying:)

  13. It sounds like quite the honour. Interesting customs. Thanks for sharing them. :)

  14. True. I remember times in school when some children gave treats to friends because they had become "chachas" or "mamas".

    Hasn't happened to me though, and I am so thankful. These titles accompany a dread of responsibility. I have a cousin who is 6 years younger to me, and my mom and her sis keep telling me to be his mentor in studies. (I have tried to shirk it by saying that study-mentors are boring no-fun people and I dont want to be viewed in that light from my fav cousin...)

  15. I so love learning about the traditions in your life. In fact, I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed getting to know you through blogging.

    Your words are always an inspiration on your blog and mine!

    Happy New Year! Jan


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