In August, Indira Rajan was at home in Croton-on-Hudson, watching Senator Kamala Harris deliver a speech accepting the nomination to be Joe Biden’s running mate, when one word jumped out.
“Family,” said Harris, “is my uncles, my aunts, and my Chitthis.”
‘Chitthis’—literally one’s mother’s younger sister—is a term of endearment used by Tamil speakers to describe any woman who qualifies as an auntie, whether they’re related or not.
Rajan, 56, was already a fan of Harris, whose late mother was raised in Chennai, in South India. (She had excitedly tracked Harris’ and Mindy Kaling’s experiment in dosa-making.) But she was so taken by the speech that she called her friend, Yorktown Heights resident Shoba Viswanathan, 52, the next morning.
“I said, ‘Hey, let’s start something,'” Rajan recalled. “And Chitthi Brigade was born.”