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The Book and its Cover

July 26, 2010
Three incidents in the last one month has set me on a journey to find the truth.
I was in Bangkok airport. I had 7 hours to kill before my connection to Chennai would take off. In the transit lounge they had set up a play area for kids with plastic slides and chairs modelled like the airport. Two guys (from Andhra Pradesh is my guess.They spoke Telegu) wanted to take their photographs with them sitting on the toys. Absolutely nothing wrong with their intention. It would make for some good snaps to show off back home.The play area was small, so they couldn’t get enough space to get the photograph as they wished it to be. They started pulling the things around, making some space for them to get around their problem. Perfectly alright. It doesn’t make sense to have some photos with your faces partially visible or in shadows. They spend some time taking snaps in all different poses they could think off. Then they did the unpardonable. They left things as they were all dishevelled. I waited  for them to put everything back. I threw some hints at them as to what they should be doing. They did not catch them or more importantly they didn’t want to catch them. In my younger days I would have gone hammer and tongs at them. I am no longer young, not even at heart. I tried to do the next best thing. I thought I would shame them. A la Munna Bhai. I put down my laptop bag and set about arranging the toys to its original place. Initially they did not notice so engrossed in their conversation and when they became aware of what I was doing, they just looked on. As if the whole purpose of my birth was to do this.
At the Colombo airport, as I was coming out after collecting my baggage, the airport staff jumped in front of  me and demanded to see the baggage tag. Probably my baggage didn’t match my face. It was happening once too often.
At the restaurant, for breakfast, I put a couple of slices of bread  in the toaster and when it popped up,I took them out and put them on a side plate. A lady of about 45 swooped down from nowhere and took it away. Her husband clearly embarassed looked away avoiding my eyes. And yes, they were Indians. I wonder what makes us Indians to be like this. 
All this has made me philosophical and has made me wonder at the answer for the elusive question. ‘Who am I?’.
Do I look like a comedian, a crook,or  a sucker?
Is it the fault of the book? Or is it the cover?
9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2010 14:10

    Govind had a laugh at the 'philosophical' questions you posted at the end. I often wonder at this kind of behaviour. Indians are known for this. I feel extremely embarrassed when people outside narrate tales as you have about 'our fellow people.' I can see no solution to this except pack all the Indians to America for a week. They will be alright. Everything intact but then when they return, they will be the same. Very adaptable, eh.Joy always,Susan

  2. July 26, 2010 20:24

    It is really irritating, when people are just so brazen and thoughtless. I don't understand either, how people can be so rude, insensitive, and just so… dumb!!!! Btw, hope you are in Chennai in early-mid-Aug, as I'm hoping to visit and have a small bloggers meet šŸ™‚

  3. July 26, 2010 22:46

    Don't worry it's not you. At school I do this; try to shame the little ones into doing things, because I have no right to tell them, till I can do it myself, right? The best part is, 95 % of them do not follow suit or even look ashamed, when I pick up a scrap of paper, toffee wrapper, etc from the ground to put in the bin. They just look. Like those men in the airport. The conditioning is sometimes frightening. I happened to tell my former Principal about this, and he laughed (Oh he was a role model, no doubt!) and said that with the little ones it sometimes works, but if I were to try it with the older ones, they would prob. throw a scrap of paper deliberately, in my way for me to do the needful!If it weren't so darned upsetting, it would be amusing!But as always, I live in hope because there are those who do respond, and if it makes a difference to one person, it should be worth it!

  4. July 27, 2010 19:34

    Gandhigiri Zindabad! People do judge books by their covers. If you are very much bothered by your appearance, go for a face transplantation. You will be No.2 in the world.

  5. July 29, 2010 13:40

    @Susan,In my limited exposure to the world I have never met an AVERAGE person anywhere with a mindset of an AVERAGE Indian. We always want to out-do everybody else,whatever it takes.@Usha, I will totally agree with your Principal,people would do just as he had suggested, try to find your 'breaking point'.@Pal, as Jagathy says in Kilukam, 'Welcome to Chennai,Glad to meet you'. I should be in Chennai mid August. But to invite me to a Bloggers Meet? You do me a great favour by calling me a blogger. Irunthalum ungalai pondra arivaaligalain katru patavadhu gnanam varugiratha endru parpom. Call or text 9840366290 when you reach Chennai. :)@Anonymous, You are right. people are judged by their looks, but I am happy the way I am. There are a few people who think I am a hero, albeit a B-Grade one. Anyways thanks for the suggestion.

  6. July 30, 2010 17:36

    Last week I played host to two professors, a gentleman and his wife, from the University of Cambridge.I took them to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. You know how our people urinate and defecate at any convenient place they like and it was my problem to see that the visitors were not witnesses to such sights. After all, we have to preserve our self-respect, is it not! But they understand all this and they told me "Gaurav, don't bother" Yes, they called me "Gaurav" and I called them "David and Mary". Just imagine calling local bigwigs by their first names or without prefixing "Sir" or "Madam". The Indians have become total hypocrites.

  7. July 31, 2010 12:18

    Dear Govind, Don't lose heart. Wherever Indians travel they bring their bad habits too. We have been brought up in the proper manner and the vast majority of Indians are not. They may go to expensive schools and learn to speak with an accent but they have their self interests in their minds all the time. They tend to look down on others who do not wear branded clothes and accessories. Cheap fellows! Just ignore them.Archie.

  8. July 31, 2010 18:25

    We talk about Indian culture, but what is culture? The dictionary gives the definition of 'cultured' as 'having refined taste and manners'. Culture cannot be acquired by wearing expensive clothes, gold and diamond jewellery. Exclusive private education cannot give 'culture'. In my own terms, 'culture' means being considerate to others; not offending them by rude behaviour. But all the time, in India, we find the so-called educated people talking loudly, making improper gestures and so on. They believe only in showing off. That is why Indians are held in contempt by others.We have to bear with all this and not get upset over such things.Soumya

  9. August 1, 2010 20:46

    @ Babuman, I know how you feel. I don't know the reason for this Indian Psyche.@Archie, how are you. Thanks for the visit and take care.@Soumya, great to hear from. How are you? and more importantly where are you?

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