It’s really good to have some north-Indian friends. Now! you southies out there! Don’t start cursing me just yet (read the whole thing! And then curse your heart out). Why is it good? Because they make you bold. Yup! It happened to me. The obnoxious northies have the ability to transform you into a bold person. I used to be a timid little south Indian (I was!! You have to believe me!! ). There was a time when I will think a 100 times before uttering a sentence. I used to overthink and debate in my brain before getting into a situation verbally.
I used to be a Chennaite and thanks to the IT companies I worked in, I remained a Chennaite even after 10 years of moving away from the city (most IT companies are head-quartered in the south of India and it felt like home away from home). But Mumbai! It is different. You would have heard about Mumbai! The New York and Los Angeles of India. The city that never sleeps (they’re not kidding; it really does not). The city where stars are born (but no one has time to look at the sky), the city that makes dreams come true. I did not experience any of these, but I did get a bunch of very loud, obnoxious, bold, mean, bitches as friends (and I love them).
I still remember the first time I went to inquire about school uniforms to my son’s school; the inquiry desk was jam packed with parents. All I had to ask was “when will the new stocks for socks be available?”. Simple enough right? I waited for half hour. Far too scared and too sophisticated (being in Chennai for more than 20 odd years will do that to a woman) to barge in and ask my piece. I was getting irritated but was holding my ground. I did not want to shout or go beyond my comfort zone for a mere inquiry. I held my ground for the next 15 mins! And that was it for me. I barged in (ok! Ok! I kept saying ‘excuse me!’ and moved forward slowly, spiting a few people on the way) and started to ask the school staff about the socks. The lady behind the desk was having a heated altercation with a woman who was threatening to file a complaint if she was not given a prospectus now! Like Right NOW! “Ma’am I will mail you the prospectus. Please write it down,” the desk-lady was ordering her. Beside her, a woman was loudly inquiring about uniforms. “So, ma’am! After 20 May, we’ll get new stocks?” she was asking. Another desk-lady was nodding her head as a ‘yes’ as she was writing furiously on her ledger. The loud woman banged her hand on the desk to get the desk-lady’s attention and asked “Please ! I require this information. 20 May! New stocks, right?” “Yes Ma’am” she said looking straight at her.
Now let’s come back to “me” I went beside the loud, bold woman and asked, “the socks too?” (we really needed socks, people!) and the desk lady said, “yes ma’am,” looking straight at me.
If not for the bold north-Indian woman, (she was asking all this in Hindi people), I would have safeguarded my decency and stood there for another half hour. Being polite and cultured does have its pros. I accept! But being bold enough to say what you wish to say and get what you want has its allure.
Now! Some of you may think that the woman was rude, obnoxious, annoying, and impatient. You see! There is a fine line. She was bold! Not obnoxious. She put herself in a place where she will be heard and will get answers, she was not rude and impatient. When I added my own question after hers, she flashed a smile at me, she was friendly. Rude is when you insistently try to make it about you with not a care in the world about others. Obnoxious is when you are selfish and treat people with disrespect (well! She did say please). In a land that leads in population, a low degree of aggressiveness that is humane is required to get the job done.
I am not supporting the aggressive culture or the rudeness, I am just saying that be bold to say your piece. Do not talk in an offensive tone, do not disrespect people. But do not compromise your voice to save your sophistication and culture. It is OK to be a little loud if required. Let people judge you! It’s not the end of the world.
Because, when you’re bold, you can talk to anyone. And in an era of rampant social media usage, the boldness is good for your health. You don’t stress when you need to communicate with others, you don’t think a 100 times to say your piece, and you don’t play it out in your mind all the time before you utter even one word (Hmmmm…. Did I just describe Donald Trump?). Communicate boldly! If you do not know how, observe your north-Indian friends and learn.
I did! And it has vastly helped me. Because, now, I boldly ask the shopkeeper “Are you sure this packet is not way past its expiry date? I will bring it back if it is not good! Ok?” a fellow commuter, “Hey! Do you know where Mulund is? Which train do I take?” an auto-rickshaw driver, “Bhaiya (it means brother)! Take the route from left. Do not go through the shortcut. Why? Because I said so!”
Yes! southies, learn from northies. They are aggressive, yes! but they are not bad people. And northies, you can learn a lot form your south-Indian friends too. Explore and find out what’s so good about your south-Indian friend.