Back when Mr. ATK and I arrived in India (one year ago today, as a matter of fact!) we were walking down the street when we saw a flyer for a local restaurant. On the front of the flyer was the exclamation "We do Kitty Parties!!!"
Kitty parties? What's a kitty party? Keep in mind this happened really soon after Mr. ATK and I arrived and we were still getting used to the oddities and differences of Indian English (discussed at length here.) So after some discussion, we decided "kitty parties" must be the Indian equivalent of "kiddie parties." It makes sense, right? Kittens are baby cats and, you know, I'm fairly sure that the term "kid" actually refers to a baby goat. So we figured, they must have just confused "kiddie" and "kitty," those wacky Indians. They have a slightly different word for everything.
Fast forward a year, and we are in Hindi class. The teacher asks me to say the sentence "I used to play cards at kitty parties." Well, naturally, Mr. ATK and I started to giggle. The teacher asked why we were laughing and Mr. ATK starts to explain how in the U.S. we call parties for children "kiddie" parties, not "kitty" parties and the teacher stops him confused.
"Kitty parties aren't for children," he says. "They're for women."
"What's that now?" we say.
He goes on to explain how kitty parties are where women come together and be all women-like: dressed up in their fancy clothes and jewelry, gossiping and cat fighting. You know they are called kitty parties because women are like cats—always with the fighting. And wouldn't you know, these kitty parties cause problems in the family because the mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law usually don’t like them (apparently they usually invited. Probably a bunch of killjoys.)*
So the kitty party went from something I found mildly amusing to mildly offensive. The more you know.