Every Indian I know has that one neighbour or distant aunt or uncle, who springs to mind on reading this:
The reason I stress on my Indian upbringing here is because I have observed that a vast majority of middle aged Indian ladies and gentlemen are well, a little too curious about what’s happening around them. Their ears perk up at the slightest chance of ‘gossip’, they want to be in the know of your every move and they want to make sure you know that they are judging you.
Example 1: “X’s daughter always comes home late at night, I’m sure she has a boyfriend her parents don’t know about. Maybe we should tell them. You know, boys can’t be trusted these days.”
Example 2: “Didn’t he just write his Engineering exams? Wonder which college he’ll get into, his mother is always bragging about how bright he is.”
Example 3: “Ever since that girl got a job, she has been spending money like nobody’s business. Just the other day they got a big screen TV and today she told me she is going on a holiday with her friends. She must be making a lot of money.” To which the usual response would be along the lines of: “Even if she does, they should really be saving up for her wedding, her parents are letting her splurge unnecessarily, they’ll regret it later.”
It’s not like they really are concerned, it’s just the compulsive need to feel sorry for others,what my friends and I summarise as the “Kids these days..” syndrome. I once knew a lady who was obnoxious and loud and boisterous, and doled out her opinions and judgements on people as if she were serving dutifully in a charity soup kitchen. Rapid, purposeful, and in her mind a meaningful service to society. She had the other annoying habit of just landing up at my place unannounced and uninvited, only to pass more judgements about how I’m not really in control of my life and how I need to become her protégé to absolve myself. My usual strategy was to look very uninterested in anything she had to say (came naturally to me) and politely drive her out of my home. I have this compulsive urge to not be rude, even if I dislike the very aura of a person! Which puts me in a tough spot handling such people, but hopefully I have gotten better over time 🙂
All of these encounters teach us so much and I only hope I remember this when I get to her age. Part of the reason why I write is to read this stuff for myself later in life.
Note to future self:
If nosy and judgemental: back off, live your own life!
If tolerant and inclusive: good job, I’m proud of what you have turned into 🙂