Culturally Awkward

What defines a societal culture? Is it progress? Is it the ease to adapt? Is it the willingness to evolve? Or is it defined by the value system that was created centuries ago? Perhaps it could any one of these or all of them or perhaps none. Every culture around the world is unique and different. Countries that share borders may have completely opposite cultures and ways of life. In our Indian culture, I suppose there are a variety of cultures. These days, there is no one culture that can be defined as Indian, but more of a value system of convenience. The people choose the values and morals  that suit their convenience. Not for mere reason but to justify the things they do. Unfortunately, when they do that, they are perceived as hypocrites. It’s very simple to blame things that they don’t agree with to be ‘the influence of the west’. Well excuse for me for pointing it out but this is the land of the Kama Sutra. Somehow over the years, in a modern age, it’s frowned upon or considered to be a sin. And it’s not all about that. It’s just the way of thinking. A repressive society where the voice of reason is just that ‘it is not an Indian thing to do’. 

I never quite understand what they mean by that. It’s okay to arrange the marriage of their offspring to complete strangers based on the family financial background but not to openly date people of their own choosing. That’s not all, it’s unacceptable to show any affection to them. This is exactly why there is an unhealthy outlook towards any sort of physical connection. A wedding in itself is society-approved consummation of the pairing. What a vulgar display of the celebration of love. Not that I’m averse to the idea. In fact I love the idea. I love it especially if it’s because of the love between the two, a sacred bond that they want to celebrate and not the fact that there were two thousand people present to see it. 

So what happens when women are harassed? Whether it’s a nasty look or a long uncomfortable stare, it happens all the time here and no one does anything about it. Are you going to ward them off a hundred times a day, everyday? Well at least we will try to because we have to start somewhere. The first thing that people have the audacity to say is that it was the girl’s fault or it was because of what she was wearing. When I hear that I just automatically categorise them into the ignorant buffoon file. What doe get to me, however, is that most of the time these are the sentiments of women. Yes! From women. There is no solidarity for the sisterhood and no empathy. Of course there are a majority of women who will stand up for you and with you and fight the fight. But when women actually utter these words it’s just appalling and downright disgusting. 

There are certain things that also don’t sit right with me. For instance, when someone tells us that that it’s not in our Indian culture to sit too close to our lover or kiss them in public. I’m all for the reason that perhaps it’s not proper protocol or not correct social decorum. It’s when people justify that it’s not in our culture then that just drives me up the wall. Even more so is when they say not to do certain things because other people take offense to it. Well hello! If it offends you then why look? It’s as simple as putting your fingers into an open flame and then complaining that it’s hot and get your fingers burnt. Everything is G rated. So I’m confused about what exactly are they getting offended by?

I have nothing to really say to these people except the fact that they should open their minds and put their time into the things that do matter. Put their energy into changing the world for the better and not get involved in the lives of those who have no relation to them at all. Well, here’s hoping. 

 

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CONSIDER THIS

I live in a country where the word consideration does not exist. At least from what I know, there is no such word that can be used for consideration. In a society where there is no word in its local language that translates to consideration, it’s no surprise that the people don’t have any consideration for other people. It’s surreal how each person has no idea where the line between disturbance and normalcy lies. Last night there was a private party in the building society, where the food was arranged by caterers. The party was not allowed to go on beyond 11pm because if the noise or perhaps society rules. And it’s understandable because it’s about consideration for your neighbours in the community. What astonished me was that the caterers were allowed to yell out to each other while packing everything up until 1am. The clattering of very heavy crockery and the clunking of cutlery. And no one seemed to have a problem with that. I thought it was absolutely strange that no one seemed to have a problem with it. No one complained about that ruckus and the hosts didn’t seem to be bothered about it either. Perhaps they went home and slept after all that food and drink. This is something that happens only in our country. The most famous line they use is ‘what can I do?. It’s only a handful of courteous citizens who take it upon themselves to keep the volume on the down low after hours or not carelessly drag furniture in case the neighbours below are fast asleep. For everyone else this is a daily routine. They make the noise and cause disturbance and are uncouth about it. But when someone else is doing it, or rather when it directly affects or bothers them, it’s their business and they have no qualms about making it all a big deal. So after it’s all over, isn’t it the responsibility of the organisers to make sure that everything gets wrapped up silently, or within the stipulated time frame, considering it’s a private building?

The problem I have is that it’s not so much a matter of consideration or perhaps a matter of common sense and in this case, lack thereof. Then I thought to myself, they probably have no consideration because there is no word in the language to describe it. And so, unable to have any. Maybe it all boils down to upbringing. Since we pride ourselves on good upbringing or in some local smart Alec’s words, ‘well-cultured” – whatever that means, why isn’t courtesy and consideration for other people part of that package? It’s just the blind leading the blind because if a person is inconsiderate they  obviously have no idea what it is and so they don;t expect it from others. So they have no reason to complain. 

Even politics can’t change this way of thinking. It’s a societal evolution. And I’d hate to be a know-it-all and teach them how to behave. So in the meanwhile, I’ll have to deal with it and get used to it. For now.