Need tips on how to survive in Dhaka? This here is your guide. Step one: handle the Dhaka bhabis with finesse and you can never go wrong.
The word bhabi quite simply means “older brother’s wife.” We in Dhaka, however, affectionately use the term when we are referring to someone who is a pain in the ass. Read below for details on how to survive the path to becoming a bonafide bhabi.
1) Talk about your kids.
Bhabis are notorious for being obsessed with their children. Talk enough about your own child (if you don’t have one, talk about a nephew or niece) just to make her realize that you are someone who can “connect” with her.
How to do it? Talk about what a difficult child you have so that she can give you unsolicited advice about how to do your job better than you. Bhabis love to feel like they are better than everyone else. Also make sure she can maintain her status of having the best kid around for miles. Do not play up your child’s strengths if you are a beginner bhabi. Otherwise you’re up shit creek.
2) Learn to gossip in style.
It is a common misconception that bhabis will gossip with just anyone. They do love to gossip and put other people down and judge others, but make no mistake they are very careful about doing it in front of outsiders. Hint: if you are reading this and enjoying it, you are an outsider.
How to do it? Easy. Make passive aggressive statements peppered with “that’s so sad,” and “ahare” about the particular victim of gossip to dull the edge of your bitchiness a little. After all, they don’t want you to be more judgy than them. If that’s even possible.
3) Open a Facebook account.
You need to have fb so that you can keep up with the daily scandals. If you don’t do this you are dead in Dhaka. Or worse, a social pariah.
How to do it? Go on http://www.facebook.com and follow the directions. If you are halfway educated, you’ll figure it out.
4) Talk about clothes and jewelry. Like all the time.
Okay, I know this is a stereotype but we all know bhabis love to talk sari and goyna. Especially when half of them own boutiques and sell jewelry imported from India.
How to do it? Wear something nice and then let people complement you. Let the conversation flow from there. Note: when all else fails, just mention that you love Jarwa House. Don’t know what that means? Never mind.
5) Talk about weight loss.
Bhabis love talking about their weight and their diet and their exercise regime. Since they all fancy themselves to be yummy mummies with designer bags, at least 50% of them are trying to lose weight. Some of them have eating disorders but it’s best not to mention that.
How to do it? Just ask any random bhabi how she lost all her weight. Guaranteed half an hour right there.
6) Talk about food.
Every bhabi can cook. Or rather, every bhabi can get their cook to cook. Or something.
How to do it? If you know how to cook you are already ahead of the game. Discuss your favorite recipes and, be nice, learn to share. Nobody likes that bitchy bhabi who is kipta with her delectable recipes. If you don’t know how to cook, google a random recipe and memorize it. Recite it like you own it.
7) Complain endlessly about your servants.
Truth? Running a household is hard ass work. But only a bhabi can milk that shit for all it’s worth with aplomb. Bhabis love talking about the perils of dealing with a house full of incompetent idiots. And they love griping about their domestic help. Note: They make it sound more pc by using words like “chauffeur” and “staff.”
How to do it? Show up late at a party and talk about how your slutty maid was caught trying to run away with your married driver. Ungrateful wretches. Use the word wretch. It’s much more tasteful than bitch or asshole.
8) Don’t swear.
Swear words, in the world of bhabis, are completely unladylike. If you curse like a truck driver you will make them very uncomfortable and they will think you are not appropriate company for their tea parties. Tsk tsk.
How to do it? Use Enid Blyton novels for tips on words you can use to express disdain or frustration. Save your real swear words for when you get in the car on the way home.
8) Smile that vapid smile.
If you have RBF (resting bitch face) you are doomed. The best thing to do when a conversation is lagging or there is an awkward silence between you and said bhabi is to smile.
How to do it? Pull out those 32 pearly whites (please go for a teeth cleaning beforehand). Also, complement said bhabi and tell her she is looking nice.
9) Talk shit about your spouse. Kinda.
Bhabis love to discuss how silly and useless their husbands are, but manage to very craftily make sure everyone knows how rich and powerful they are. It’s a beautiful art. One which, with careful practice, you too will master.
How to do it? Talk about how “he” (try not to use his name – instead say “amar jamai”, or “amar big baby”) can’t do anything at home ie find his clothes, serve himself a glass of water, handle the kids on his own. While you are saying this, breezily slip in that he is so “absentminded” and “utterly hopeless” because he makes x crores a day and has no time to think about anything but money. Sigh and shake your head affectionately as you talk.
10) Make everyone think you are super busy.
The beauty of being a bhabi is that she has the appearance of being crazy “basto,” but still manages to grace you with her presence and look fit fat. Bhabis are amazingly good at making you feel like the most useless piece of shit because they are are so good at doing everything and smiling all the while. Meaning if you are bad with time management and multitasking may the bhabi gods help you, cause you are genuinely fucked.
How to do it? The best way to do this is to talk about your endless dawats and tea parties. And how between kiddie play dates, school pick ups, work and your insane social calendar, you have no idea how you find time for anything. Make sure to be modest and slip in that you are forgetful (when you are actually saying the exact opposite) or that you are terrible at juggling different things (which, again, is a lie that makes you look humble) just to make that person who is actually having a hard time keeping things together feel like a right failure. Superwoman, you are!
Option two: if you have a job call your junior (you better have one, because if you don’t, you have no business trying to be a bhabi) and yell at him, or at least talk down to him. Roll your eyes afterwards but refuse to go into details. Cause you know it’s all the more effective if your jobly duties remain mysterious. As long as you sound important. If you are jobless, never fear. Just call your domestic help and ask them if they have done some mundane job that they do regularly. Discuss the menu and while you’re on the phone, ask to speak to your children and tell them to finish their homework so that you can check it when you get home. Although your servants will think you’ve lost the plot, never fear. The Bhabis will be in awe. Instant respect and success.
11) Bonus Tip: If you are having sex do not talk about it. Ever. Bhabis don’t have sex.
So there you have it. Good luck to all you bhabi wannabes. May you be a real bhabi someday.