try to remember when you were half your height now(results may vary with 'half ur age' :)). we used to frolic around merrily(or so the world thought..!!!),playing cricket in the famous *compound* of our buildings,or the age-old 'luppa chchuppi',tryin to find new places to hide everyday,but not mentioning it to any of ur friends(u never knew who wud get the "dan" that day). those were the days when we used to travel along with our parents even to the theatres!!! but we(specially guys,atleast i was) were always the bakras for buying daily household(read kitchen) items for our dear old moms from the 'baaju ka dukaan'.those wer the simple days for i cud go up to the shop and say,"UNCLE..." or "AUNTY..."(as the case may be). ditto nomenclature for any stranger guy/gal almost double my height-they wud automatically be termed as uncle/aunty with no due consideration of their "feelings".
but by the time i was in college,i cud no longer use the above mentioned blissful terms without being frowned at by the people(specially the ladies) who didnt hav gray hair!!!! i was in a great dilemma then. using sir/ma'am sounded too sophisticated for me(i thought it didnt suit me:)),bhaisaab/memsaab sounded too rustic. as i struggled thru those horrid days,i started hearing one word being used very frequently,age-no-bar.first time i heard it was from someone in the local train,then i heard it in college,then again at the xerox-wala near my college and the saga continued. the word was "BOSS"!!! "Boss...?",i thought,sounds quite 70's bollywood baddies' lingo!! but then gradually it caught on. and there i was spilling the word all over.
"boss....ek coke dena..."
"boss...yeh 10 pages xerox maarna"
no more hurting the feelings of non-gray haired guys.the word was well-crafted.genius!! now even the chchotu at the canteen cud be ur "boss",and he wud beam at that!!the xerox guy didnt frown.the conductor didnt frown.the shopkeeper didnt frown. the barber didnt frown.
but alas!!! it's inherent disadvantage----it sounds too gender-specific!!!!
yeah...next time,try to call out the lady in the shop as "boss..." i frankly dont know wt her reaction wud be cuz i hav never tried it out..:) but then the phrase "oh madam.." does fill in the shoes of "boss" to some extent if i may say so...!!