Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Cat Must Live

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter (Dixie Hemingway Mysteries, No. 1)There is a popular proverb "Curiosity kills the cat", which is used to warn
against being too curious, lest it may prove very harmful. But when it comes to being inquisitive about others, no one can beat us Indians, especially the middle class Indians. 

You meet someone after a long gap, or someone is introduced to you: what kind of conversation ensues? 
More likely than not you are asked about what your children are doing; where are they employed; what was the JEE rank of your daughter; where did she take the 
engineering coaching; where have you purchased your flat; 2 BHK or 3 BHK and so on and so forth. Your interlocutor is not satisfied until you are stripped bare of all your personal details.    

What is the purpose behind this trampling on your privacy? In my analysis, this is to compare his 'achievements' with yours. If,  in his estimate, he is ahead of you, his conversation suddenly turns smug and pompous, even a few theories are thrown in about where you might have 'gone wrong'. Thank you buddy, I am not interested.

If somehow your inquirer feels that you have 'surpassed' him in these important areas, he will proffer many uninvited explanations for his relative failure: What kind of postings I've got, see I could not give the attention to my children's studies like you all did, blah blah blah. Come on buddy, I'm not interested in this either.

Lalu Prasad Yadav once said that the people travelling in train are more social and they gossip a lot, making the journey lively, unlike the air travelers who remain tight-lipped throughout the journey. During train journeys you will often come across strangers, who are interested in your complete bio-data. All their conversation will point to unearth your material worth. If you don't measure upto him, he will stop the
conversation and find someone else.

I am not advocating the culture of 'stiff upper lip' by which the Englishmen are known. It is said that,  to avoid curiosity of a stranger they would hide their faces with the newspapers. No, not something like this, but please do not be nosey about others. Let a lively conversation ensue, and be happy with whatever 'information' you get from the context of the talk, without prying into someone's privacy.   

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