So this friend of mine gets an offer from a leading KPO to take up the operations of their Chennai Division. He was mightily thrilled about the offer, however his place of posting was not palatable. His roots being from the state of Uttar Pradesh, and being from the Brahmin community, had been used to being addressed as PANDITJI. When a person is addressed as PANDIT, even the over-hearers are under notice that the person so addressed is a Brahmin.
Though he had a name which announced his caste, he had not stayed in Uttar Pradesh and had made West Bengal (which lies on the East of India) his state of domicile. So schooling and college were completed in Bengal. There was this Bengali influence in him which was visible in the way he dealt with women. He had undue reverence for ‘women’. Although he thought of such courtesy as a sign of breeding, he was quite scathing in his assessment of women in private chat with his friends of same gender.
To compound to this cultural mix, he started his career in Bangalore, where any language works and is the most linguistic neutral city of India. So his impressions of the Southern India had been limited to his exposure to Bangalore and consequently, had no feel of the intense Thamizh culture.
So when he got the offer, he called me and asked if he could wear shorts and visit shops in Chennai. I said, “Boss, you have two options in LIFE, one is to be yourself and care a damn about what others think or do. The second is, study the local behaviour and keep yourself in conformity with the local practices and not stand out in the crowd, thereby pass off for a local. The choice is yours.”
So Mr. Pandey was not happy with my suggestion. He wanted a firm choice to be pronounced by me so that if something were to go wayward, he could blame me for the choice. Now he had to choose. A choice is difficult when we want the cake and eat it too. When i told him that, he wanted me to exemplify so as to clarify that point. So i said, see, if a techie girl were to see u in shorts with an i-pod ear pieces stuck in your ears are likely to be impressed, but if an auto driver sees you you would be seen as a perfect victim for fleecing! So make your “CHOICE” and reap what you have sown.
Then, Mr. Pandey asked me about the weather in Chennai. I said, ” I have met at least 10 North Indian friends, who though had never visited Chennai, had said that Chennai has 3 types of weather HOT, HOTTER and HOTTEST!” I love it. I remember what Lao Tzu had to say about small minds, ” A small mind the moment it finds someone well fed and clothed, triggers his mind to discover the ugly side of that person. That is the only source of their superiority!” So, most forget that even our country’s capital has extreme weather conditions, yet we don’t have such negative perceptions about it. Instead we cope with it. So people in Chennai have coped with weather conditions which are to say the least, “INCLEMENT”. Yet, on a drizzly day. to drive on the ECR would be unparalleled! Well, these are the benefits which accrue when we not merely put up with situations beyond our control but learn to draw the pleasant things out of it.
So, Pandey has convinced himself that he is going to discover the brighter side of Chennai. I told Pandey, “Look here, we never chose our place of birth, but we were born there. Next is we were not given the choice to grow wherever we would have liked, instead in the security of our homes we were raised and therefore our habits were set. It is just that we have glorified our circumstances and now, as an adult we have an opportunity to explore and have a first hand experience of the places about which we have opinions but no experience. So if you want to be truthful to yourself, get those opinions out and get real first hand experience. MAybe you may bump into a girl/woman of your ‘taste’!”
Pandey saw a point in my argument and he would be landing in Chennai on this Easter evening. I hope he copes with the muggy summer that might follow. The bigger principle is , as said in Tamizh, “If fortune can be acquired only by crossing the seas, then cross the seas.”
Good luck to you Pandey, hope you “enjoy” your stay at Chennai. But you have to get used to sambar, idli and dosai…………..see you soon, a shade less fair. Carry saffron if you can, why should pregnant women alone have saffron? You can reduce the darkening of the skin….may be! LOL