Quirks: a peculiar aspect of a person’s character or behaviour.
Indian quirks: A behavioural aspect that most of us have, act so in our daily lives and love it while we do it.
I have tried to list out few of the quirks that I myself have or have been a part of, along with many others I know. Today’s post is written on a lighter note and meant to be enjoyed so.
So here goes:
The Process of leaving: When we are visiting and the time comes to leave, we don’t just get up and go, we initiate a process to leave. The process steps go something like this.
We steer the conversation to taking leave, then the hosts will tell us to stay a little while longer, so we do and then again we start to leave. When we start the goodbye’s it goes around at least twice before I actually step out of the door. We still don’t leave, we chat a little more at the door/gate. Then after another round of bye’s we are escorted to our cars/lift and then again we have another round of byes. That’s when we leave for good.
Greeting with confirmation on consumption of food: When we meet people or talk on the phone. Our greetings go like this: Hello, How are you/ what’s up? And then based on time – had breakfast/lunch/ tea/ dinner? Standard protocol. If not early on, we will confirm that they did have food before we finish the conversation. Are we so concerned that they might starve themselves for some reason? No, its just good old “am glad you ate well and happy that you are going to be healthy!”
Apologising for an accidental foot-touch: this is so ingrained in our minds, we do it automatically. The apology is not mouthed sorry, it is the Indian way of sorry – touching both sides of your cheeks and then the neck.
Never say I am leaving: we don’t say so, we always say “I’ll come back”, and other versions “poitu-varen”, “hogi-barthini”, “phir aaungi”. We say bye in English, but not in our local tongues. Why? Coz probably good bye’s are only meant for everlasting goodbyes and so we always give the hope of meeting again.
Sitting “everywhere” with the legs folded: I love this, and I want to, but don’t do it often. I have seen my friends and family sit so everywhere – on sofas, chairs, beanbags, while eating on dinner table chairs, while in office on very comfortable Featherlite chairs, in cars. I have asked why? Not to make them conscious but because my curiosity pokes me too much. They are so comfortable in that posture, if it wasn’t for the public place decorum, they’d sit so “everywhere” possible.
Serving food more than one can eat: I agree we do follow “athithi devo bhava”- guests are gods. Even after second helpings, we have to serve “just a little more” it’s a show of love and affection. We do so sometimes even after continued refusal from the person we serve. But we also, need to make sure, that the food doesn’t get wasted. Except few, like my husband, who would rather stuff themselves than waste, there are a lot more people, who’d rather waste. And so, Instead, I have taken to asking and then almost serving the “little extra” only with consent.
Bargain: go ahead judge me, it’s okay, I don’t mind. I love to bargain, there is nothing more satisfying for me than to get a good price for a purchase. Except offcourse the places of MRP’s and price label’s, or when there is staff sales person, your hands are tied, there is nothing one can do. Even when there is a FIXED RATE hanging I always ask discounts ” aap tho owner ho, aap chaahe tho de sakthe ho”(since you are the owner, you could if you want to”. On principal, I don’t bargain with small street vendors, coz they don’t have that big a margin, But I don’t skip the chance if I can :D.
Boni (bohni)-The sale to the first customer: The merchant’s interest to set the tone for the sales for the day. My mother has been sought after from my local street vendors to do the bohni. They truly believe that if she’s the first to buy the good, they’ll have good sales throughout the day. Sometimes, if she doesn’t want something they’d rather even give a small token good just so she can give some change. I also believe this, so when the vendor says its bhoni, I am obligated to buy it for I rather not have him/her curse me and I don’t get a bargain too. If they give discounts, they believe it might set a wrong tone for the day.
Ward off the Evil Eye: are you laughing? You should be I am laughing myself, but this isn’t a laughable matter. Since I have been a mother, my belief in this system of warding off the Evil Eye (Dhristi- Kazhikiradu, Buri Nazar) is strengthened. The way I see it is this: If aashirwaad or good wishes of someone can affect us, so does the bad thoughts. Period. I make sure I perform this ritual whenever we have a lot of people doting over my son.
There a few more mentionable here: the concept of adjust maadi (jugaad), trying to fit in more people than the room permits, use of a two-wheeler to carry 4 people (my dad took us 3 girls, in one LML vespa bike: unsafe but it did happen), the concept of “It happens in India”, “chaltha hai”.
So my readers, please do mention any other quirks that I have missed, I have. Hope you enjoyed this post. I did enjoy writing it.