Sunday, December 14, 2014



When I joined the Navy in the 1970’s  young girls started calling me “uncle”.

I was barely 20 years old and this was the first time someone had called me “uncle”.

Of course, the girls who called me “uncle” were senior officer’s daughters (SODA) and they were following “fauji” social tradition of addressing all officers as “uncle”.

It did not matter that most of these girls who called me “uncle” were almost my age, or just a few years younger.

Last evening we had a get-together in our residential society. 

And most of the girls called me “uncle”.

(of course, the “girls” here ranged from nubile young IT Techies in their 20’s to beautiful young mothers in their 30’s)

In the 1970’s  girls called me “uncle”.

Now, almost 40 years later, in the year 2014 – girls still call me “uncle”.

Am I an ageless wonder – the eternal “uncle”?

All this reminds me of this real life story which I had posted earlier in this blog in 2012.

Here is the story, once again:

A Real Life Story – The Eternal “uncle”

NEW DELHI (1982)

In 1982, as a newly married couple, we lived in Curzon Road Apartments on Kasturba Gandhi Marg near India Gate in New Delhi.

Me, my wife, and our puppy dog (a small Lhasa Apso Puppy Dog given to us as a wedding gift) – all three of us lived in our neat cosy one room apartment with a small kitchenette and a lovely balcony high up on the top floor.

One evening, while on her way back home from work, my wife went to the convenience store to buy milk.

The shopkeeper told her that her father had already bought milk a few minutes ago.

My wife was delighted at the unexpected visit of her father.

So my wife rushed to our house.

My wife did not see her father around, so my she asked me, “Where is Daddy?”

“Your Daddy? He must be in Pune,” I said.  

“No. Daddy has come here,” she said.

“Who told you?” I asked.

“The shopkeeper,” she said.

“The shopkeeper told you that your Daddy has come? Let’s go down and ask him,” I said.

So we went down and asked the shopkeeper.

The shopkeeper pointed towards me and said, “He took the milk. I thought he was your father.”

“He is my husband,” my wife said, pointing at me.

“I am sorry, Sir, but I was really mistaken,” the shopkeeper said apologetically to me.

Then the shopkeeper smiled at my wife, and he said to her, “Madam, you look so young, like a schoolgirl, so I thought he was your father.”

It was true. 

When we were married, my wife looked very young, just like a schoolgirl. 

She was 21 and I was 25, and though the shopkeeper hadn’t spelt it out in so many words, I did look a bit older than my 25 years, with my “healthy” build and my formidable beard.

Unlike the so-called “metrosexual” men of today  I like to be who I am  so I don’t believe in “cosmetic engineering”.

I believe in the “old-mould” idea that a man must look like a man, tough and masculine, and though hygiene and grooming are important, there is no need for a man to be excessively obsessed about his looks.

Of course, whereas having an appropriate dress sense and wearing good quality clothes is a must, there is no need for a man to “deck up” and titivate.

That’s why when the first strand of grey hair appeared on my head when I was in my mid 40’s, I never used hair dye, nor did I colour my copious beard when it started greying.

Of course, I must say here, that my wife too has a natural look and she hardly uses any cosmetics and nor does she colour her hair.

The fact of the matter was that my wife did indeed look much younger than me. 


So, even in those days, when a pretty young girl called me “uncle”, I did not mind it very much. 

Maybe, to young girls, I did indeed look like an “uncle”.

30 Years Later

PUNE (2012)

This happened a few days ago in Pune.

My wife was getting off an auto rickshaw. 

The fare was 52 rupees. 

She gave the auto-rickshaw driver a 50 rupee note and was desperately searching in her purse for a two rupee coin when the auto driver said magnanimously to my wife, “Never mind Ajji – it is okay if you don’t give me the two rupees.”

Now, in Marathi, the word AJJI means GRANDMOTHER.

I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt when I heard this.

And just imagine, pretty young girls still call me “uncle”.


Maybe the auto-rickshaw driver needed an eye checkup. 

My wife still looks very young – maybe not like a school girl like she did in 1982, but certainly like a college girl. 

And me? 

Well, I am an ageless wonder – The Eternal “Uncle”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in this story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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