Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 27: Why do "people" want to know?

Women get asked a lot more questions than men (Photo credit)
If I got a nickel for every time someone asked me a question that is none of their business, I'd be rich! Like RICH! And I've realised I don't even have to think of all the different questions I got asked over time. The one to top the list is - Where my (forever travelling) spouse is now? And trust me, sometimes even I wouldn't know the answer - or dint care to remember - if he was on a multi city tour in a week. But I'm guessing it's important for people to know.

The next one has got to be when am I going to have a baby! Boy! That's like a staple conversation topic with childless people. (Thankfully, the kid question dwindled out of my life after the initial years except for a few people in the family who just won't let it go! I should really start charging nickels, I guess! LOL!)

And I'll venture to put in a third one since the people who ask this have absolutely nothing to do with it and they still ask - When is a member in my family finishing her Ph.D? And if you know the Indian culture, you definitely can guess the conversation this question is leading to...yeah! you got it!

There are several others related to work too. People find it hard to comprehend that I have any real work to do without a job that keeps me out from 9-5. One question that really gets my goat is, "What plans?" And there's a whole lot of them throughout the year - Your birthday, spouse's birthday, long weekend, Holi, Diwali, Christmas, New Year or the wedding anniversary! Phew!!

And the frustration at this barrage of pointless questions definitely gives way to rolling on the floor kind of laughter. And I really want to ask people, no matter how life altering the topic - how the fuck is that any of their business?? But in our culture, (honestly, I don't know about other countries/cultures) it's everyone else's business but yours. From your marital status to the number of kids you have (or the absence of it), what you wear, what time to arrive home at night, what kind of lifestyle you lead is the business of everyone who has no other business.

And the scrutiny is more pronounced if you are a woman. There is "best by" date for an unmarried woman. And the friendly neighbourhood aunty -who obviously  has nothing else to do - will be able to give you the correct estimate. And if you shrug at it, she'll threaten you with, "It's already late!". By the way, the same threat - sometimes rephrased as, "It's time now" - applies to the having-a-baby question too. Try indulging her with answers and you had it! "Never" is never an acceptable answer. Pat comes the next one, "Why?" The thoughts furiously whirling in aunty's head are - Gay? Medical problem? Try giving them reasons - career, busy life - that sound valid to you and they'll shoot them right out as rubbish. After all, people know better about what we should be doing with our lives than we do! Trust them!

I have had women judged for having a job and taking care of kids. And eyebrows raised if she quit her career to care for her kids full time. "So, are you never getting back to your job?" There, you just trampled on the last of whatever was left of her self esteem!

If you ask me, all this is just a conspiracy of people who-have-not to drag us down with them. When a mom of two pulling her hair out tells me to have a baby since it's so life altering, I just know it! Since the neighbourhood aunty can't wear short dresses and party till 4 am, she is definitely going to tut tut and declare that as immoral.

Of late, my policy is to avoid running into neighbours altogether. I don't want to kill their joy of asking where my spouse is off to by telling them that he doesn't travel much now. And others who have questions about my work etc get generic responses enough to end the conversation. I now believe that the fewer people I meet, the lesser the nonsense in life!

Interestingly enough, I had this post idea in mind for a long time and today's cover story in Times Life - So, when are you settling down? - really pushed me to finally write it. While this post is my personal experience, the piece in Times is relevant to every woman even in today's times.

So, moral of the story: If you are ever confused about your life and you should go to random people. They always always know better than you about your own life.

Have you - I am sure you have - spill your experiences here! If there are any guys who read this post, I'd love to hear from you too! Are you guys also exposed to scrutiny and unwanted advice like women do?

This post is written for #NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Posting Month hosted by BlogHer every year.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely write up Suman. I also know a husband who advises his 14year old son that if he studies well and get a high paid job he will get a beautuful wife like his mother as if having goods looks and culliinary skills are the sole criteria to be good wife. This primitive mindset prevails more among educated men because of their patriarchial upbringing.