Story of a lost journalist

August 6, 2008

Politeness: A must in all conversations

Filed under: life — Cris @ 21:12
Tags: , , ,

I once blogged about the appropriate questions for first time talks with new acquaintances. Today I was the prey to that when I was asked, besides my family background, my age. Hmm I have never found it an offending question till today. But today on saying it, it produced a series of questions regarding my matrimonial plans. It was not mere questions but seemingly deep concern on my single status in 20 something. Hmm I reflected that there is someone’s feelings entirely missed out in the whole episode. Someone who should be really concerned over the single status, and was not. Namely, me.

I decided I am too indifferent about my affairs. Why, everyone else worried more about me than me, even people I met for the first time! But there was no time for too many self-reflections. For I was in cue for more attacks. This time, it was about newspapers. There came an occasion when I chose an English newspaper and it turned out my age-attacker wanted a Malayalam newspaper and both of us were in a position to receive just one (it was one of those group activities). I’d have no problem in giving in since I could read Malayalam well enough. Only I was used to an English-daily. When I said this, the attacker proved proficient in her attacking skills. I was a one-woman army against, a one-skilled-attacker-woman.

After snatching the English paper to return, she turned to a completely dazed me.
“You know to read Malayalam right?”
“And then you do this!!! Malayalam comes first, understood? Go read Malayalam papers from today! Hmph! English newspaper!”
“I have this-other-Mallu-newspaper coming in my home but I usually read The Hindu”
“Really? Such a big deal! You poor thing! Now you may not have ever seen this-Mallu newspaper before right?” To others: “Please let her have a good look at it”

Well there was more, but I was busy blinking trying to understand the reason for this outburst. I didn’t have any problem returning the English paper but I certainly had a problem in being insulted in a pretty crowded room. Would the woman ever listen? And even if she did, would it ever make sense to her? I decided no. There was no point trying to make a point or argue with this human-machine-gun. My strategy was simple: ignore the woman totally and absolutely henceforth. Silence was the weapon I chose and after smiling at her in a quizzical expression I never turned to look at her again – this was nothing of the sweet revenge nonsense. This was the only language I could speak then. Group or no group, I knew where I could not find my allies.

More charges against the army woman. While serious discussions were happening within the aforesaid group, she decided it was time to guess the age of new girl, NG.
“You are just 22 right?”
Discussion continues among rest of the gang.
“Or 21? Are you 21 or 22?”
Smile. Continues with discussion.
Smart girl, NG!

Well this seems a personal entry but the point I am trying to make is, people seriously need to be educated on a subject called Politeness: A must in all conversations. For this woman I met was a master’s degree holder. What use did that come to?



  1. Gosh! we still have people who could be so impolite…
    Forget it and move ahead….we cannot reform such ‘distinguished’ beasts!

    Comment by sajith — August 6, 2008 @ 21:25 | Reply

  2. Hey Wally,

    Typically in adult society, single men and women are a rarity, because people either have a girlfriend/boyfriend of the same/opposite gender depending on their sexual pref, or are married, or are in between relationships etc.

    One reason someone might ask you if you were married may be if they were interested in you. So don’t take it bad is what I’d say 🙂

    I’d like to specifically mention here that at least in Kerala, people ask the weirdest and most personal questions to someone who’s divorced. “What, you are divorced?” – “Why, what happened between you two?” “Did he/she cheat on you? – “Did you have issues with your inlaws?” etc. The proper answer of course would be to tell them to go mind their own *ing business – though sometimes it’s hard to do that to people older than you are.

    Comment by Nish — August 6, 2008 @ 23:01 | Reply

  3. @sajith, hmm yeah and I believe we might have them here for a long time ahead!

    @Nish, hehe thats a good way to look at it. But considering this was a female and having hardly talked to me before, there is nothing amusing I could find about it to feel better! And about the divorce questions, I agree, that could be quite annoying. It might be better to just say you are single and keep the divorce status to be revealed in a distance future, after Kerala has gone through some major reformations.

    Comment by Cris — August 6, 2008 @ 23:29 | Reply

  4. There are just some people we just can’t understand. Why is it so hard to be polite, I’ll never know. But chrissy, u did the right thing.I don’t think anything u say would’ve made a difference in G.I.Jane’s opinion. I’ve met some ppl of the said description & when they talk to me like G.I.Jane did, i look at them as if they are weird/are not making any sense/give a smile or all of the above(talk bout similarities!)
    We know curiosity kills the cat. Now I know why it gets killed!
    Every time some body asks my age, I know what’s going to come next– Aiyyo,u r 26 and not yet married? Why?
    All i can do is staple a smile and say “When the time is right and if its meant to be, it will happen!”

    Comment by M.Rose — August 7, 2008 @ 00:07 | Reply

  5. Somewhere in my childhood, I read somewhere that, a man should never be asked about his salary, and a lady of her age. It made sense to me, and since time immemorial, I had been practicing that. But in the past seven years I had been employed, there have been very few localites, who had not asked me my salary, and that too, even at the first handshake!

    Cultural differences that exist even at the smallest patch of dark green land! whew!

    Comment by Tedy Kanjirathinkal — August 7, 2008 @ 02:38 | Reply

  6. People all over the world,ad mallus in general are busy minding others business bcoz their own business is minded by others,and they want to continue the chain..

    Just leave them with an “ignore smile”..Talking to them will spoil your day more n more..

    Good day crissie

    Comment by Nimmy — August 7, 2008 @ 19:39 | Reply

  7. ah, I totally know what you’re talking about, girl!
    n there are ways of dealing with it, as you will realise after bumping across a few more namoonas like this. ok, say if I were there were you were, mebbe I would’ve just said: ‘oh gosh!! i dint realise I’m 2x, and still single.. my God! how scary is that? what do I do now? what do I do now? God save me! boohoohoo’ and laugh my guts out at her. from my experience, I can tell you, the rest of the crowd usually plays along! really! people just need something/someone to laugh at. Sad, it is. but that’s the way it works in Kerala, for sure. I’ve realised, it also applies to Punjabis. or any insenstive being for that matter.. hmmph.

    Comment by usha — August 8, 2008 @ 09:47 | Reply

  8. @M.Rose, GI Jane! Hehe I like that name. Henceforth she will be known so!

    @Tedy, that could be so annoying!! How do you deal with that?

    @Nimmy, I wonder when the chain will ever be broken!

    @usha, wow I like that so much!! Sheesh I wish I thought of that! Next time I am in a spot like this, I am taking your advice!

    Comment by Cris — August 9, 2008 @ 12:07 | Reply

  9. @Cris: Its tough to deflect most of them off; people, from deep of their hearts seem to be really interested to learn about your sal. 🙂 Typically I smile and give the answer “its okay” or “not bad”, but then they get on to the specific number-guessing game – “So, like 15,000?” . I’ll try to ask some other question, or exclaim about the weather, and they ask “20,000?”

    The game goes on for a while, untill I ast as if my cell phone is ringing in silent mode, and attends a fake call and whisper to them “Hey, gotta go… nice meeting you – catch u later” :-))

    Comment by Tedy Kanjirathinkal — August 9, 2008 @ 17:13 | Reply

  10. I agree with Nish here..its a typical malayalee trait..I oftten get asked abt my salary, marriage plans etc..from complete strangers…Funny that some people even go about talking of fixing my marriage even when I dont have plans to!!;-D

    I am still trying to figure out some cut throat answers to keep em away..

    Comment by mathew — August 9, 2008 @ 19:23 | Reply

  11. @Tedy, not sure if its the best way to avoid nosey parkers but sure seems to work! Hmm what about outright honesty and saying apologetically “Sorry but I wouldnt like to discuss it”. Too rude? I was thinking of trying that next time any personal question is shot, what is personal being entirely upto me.

    @mathew, fixing marriage – oh I know such people so well! There should be some way to be honest without sounding rude. Like I want to say ‘keep your nose out of it’ but end up kicking myself for telling too much without wanting to. Also hate it when I end up smiling sheepishly, like marriage was something I had no say in!

    Comment by Cris — August 11, 2008 @ 09:52 | Reply

  12. @Cris: Well, the ‘best way’ depends on whom u interact with. The out-right honest way u mentioned works a bit negative, especially when those are people you would be seeing further down the line in life, and because the psychology works a bit different with our basic people. Depending on situation and the person, you might have to choose between diplomacy and straight-forwardness.

    Comment by Tedy Kanjirathinkal — August 11, 2008 @ 14:34 | Reply

  13. @Tedy, sounds wise. I am hiring Usha and you as my personal fight-back tutors 🙂

    Comment by Cris — August 13, 2008 @ 22:13 | Reply

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