Monday, January 17, 2005

post script to my last blog- Hidden vestiges of suppressed superstitions

That story was a creative bent to similar incidents that I come across in daily life…it is sometimes requests for money, clothes, anything- and when one accedes to the first request, one is sure to be accosted with a list immediately after with all the right pitch and carefully worded manipulative vocabulary- I have been exposed to many such situations- and some of them have taught me to say “No” .

There was this company selling educational kits- they made it out to be something like getting this highly helpful kit for your children and if one felt like it, one could use it to help the neighbours kids at a “nominal” rate- a few of us enthusiastic mothers hopped on the brigade, and LO behold- we are directly being “trained” – we were recruits already without our knowledge!! We were being taught to swoop upon potential clients- the kit turns out to be a huge, colourful, flashy booklet with specific pages devoted to how to handle difficult clients, the various possible excuses ( like stalling for time, or having to ask the husband- they had it all planned, charted out and ready with the counter arguments!!!) …they were teaching us specific phrases, expressions, and even tonal modulations to use!!! I was so put off with the blatant misleading , and for the first time I found it in me to question their modus operandi- and the person who had been all milk and honey changed colours in matter of seconds- she morphed into this patronizing, condescending individual, I was shocked. Of course the hard core professional that she was, she managed to regain her plastic composure in a matter of minutes, but we had already a glimpse of the ruthless leader!

We were asked to sign papers which stated that we became official spokespersons for the particular company, and when I refused to sign it, she assured me that by signing the papers I was not bound to do the canvassing. I refused to sign saying I had no intention to lure prospective clients, because the very method by which they tried to lure customers it self went against my grain- the product by itself may have been good, but was too expensive and according to me what put me off was the way they went about securing clients- the wordings, sentences were all grossly misleading…such measures tend to prejudice one’s mind wrt marketing.

And this is not restricted to jus the high class marketing alone, I used to have this flower woman come almost daily at my door and she would try to make me buy flowers with continous, repeated, plaintive pleas… that sumangalis HAD to wear flowers in their hair, wear bindi at all times- it was inauspicious otherwise-
all because I had bought flowers from her a couple of times, not because I wanted them, but for her sake…

And then there is this terrible thing of ‘The evil eye”- every minor or major mishap is ascribed to the evil eye… I don’t really believe in them and yet there is this niggling fear when others keep mentioning it …and that is what I meant by hidden vestiges of suppressed superstitions! J

Here, they want me to wear flowers in my hair, always wear a bindi on my forehead, make those rangolis at my doorstep… irrespective of whether I want to or not. Let me mention that I appreciate the art of rangoli making , and have even admired the ladies getting up early and making the beautiful rangolis- I have even joined in making those beautiful colourful ones during the margazhi months…what bothers me is the expectation of others to do it because not doing it was WRONG! Believe me, I have been repeatedly asked to perform these rituals by the mother of my kid’s classmate, by my friendly neighbours and by my assistant(maid servant) and of course I politely evade. They expect me to conduct all the rituals that I do not believe in…and they have no compunction in educating me- while I respect other’s traditions and beliefs, I certainly resent being expected to follow the same…just because I do not take the trouble to enforce my lack of conviction does not mean I’m open to discourses on my non conformity. I am not interested in explaining my stand, because I believe in individual freedom of practices whatever that might be…I do not look down upon others traditions, but please I should not be expected to start following new ones that I am not comfortable with.

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