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Aunty National, who?

By Nickunj Malik - Oct 12,2016 - Last updated at Oct 12,2016

Pammi Aunty was in Jordan last month. Who is Pammi Aunty? People who read my columns regularly every week should not be asking this question. What they should be asking instead is what was Pammi Aunty doing in the Hashemite Kingdom? 

She, who is actually a he, was here to promote Jordan as a safe and friendly tourist destination, but if you saw his/her hilarious videos, he/she was essentially having the time of his life. Her life, I mean. No, his life is correct!

Confusion arises when I meet Ssumier Pasricha, the man behind the fictional character of Pammi Aunty. He is a suave looking gentleman and has acted in many television serials, theatre performances and movies. His alter ego, Pammi Aunty, on the other hand, is an impersonation of a typical middle-class Delhi Punjabi woman. She loves to gossip, crib and complain about many things to her best friend Sarla Bhenji, over the phone. With a purple towel wrapped around the head that has giant curlers sticking on it, pink oversized sunglasses and an AC remote that serves as a makeshift cellphone, the comedian literally sheds his identity and gets into the guise of Pammi Aunty, effortlessly.

Ssumier’s mother is Spanish but moved to India when she was 19 years old and speaks fluent Punjabi. His father is Indian and worries about him whenever he travels to distant countries like Jordan. A linguist, Ssumier is proficient in six languages, and switches from one to the next, easily. 

“Pammi Aunty resides in every house and is a combination of our grandmothers, neighbours and aunties. I belong to a Punjabi family and am constantly surrounded by them. One day I created this concept on Snapchat video with my nephew and it just clicked. I never expected it to go viral and have so many people relate to it,” he confides. 

Go viral it did, and how! According to him, the first 43 web episodes altogether received over 5 million views.

I don’t know how many views his videos endorsing the world heritage sites in Jordan got, but the clippings of Pammi Aunty floating in the Dead Sea while sipping tea were riotously comical. As were the ones he uploaded from Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. 

The manner in which Pammi Aunty talks to her son Timmy on the telephone is also very reminiscent of how our mothers spoke to us. It did not matter how old we were, after the initial greeting, they wanted to know whether we were eating properly or not. If the queries were ignored, it quickly deteriorated into an emotional wrangle of sorts and then a lot of time and effort was spent on placating our mums. 

In real life, Sumier is a soft spoken, courteous and extremely humble person. Dressed in a crisp white pantsuit, he exudes friendliness and warmth. After lunch in my house, he is hijacked by some Indian ladies and taken to a Pammi Aunty themed party held in his honour, in downtown Amman. 

In the evening, he comes to our home once again. He is carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers this time. Over drinks he explains how much he enjoyed working with the Jordan Tourism Board. 

“Pammi Aunty is amazingly funny” I compliment him. 

“She’s now becoming Aunty Preneur,” he says. 

“In other words, entrepreneur,” he corrects himself. 

“Don’t let her become Aunty National”, I caution. 

 

“In other words… ,” I leave him guessing.

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Comments

Thanks Nickunj for an insight into Pammi aunty; he seems to be a sweet simple man! What an idea and an amazing impersonation!

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