Tag Archives: Indian

The Indian lecture culture

Being lectured. And lecturing. The two sides of a coin. We all hate being lectured to. Nothing more annoying than that really. On the other hand, we love lecblablablaturing. When we get the opportunity to lecture, we believe we are wisdom personified. We just go on and on. We don’t get (or maybe we choose to ignore) that the recipient of the lecture is getting pissed off.

I’m Indian and this article is from an Indian standpoint. I’m not sure at all that this applies to other nations. In India we grow up and age on a staple diet of lectures. Everyone thinks it’s their birthright to lecture us. We just don’t know the art of stating things smartly. We need to make everything sound like a lecture. It starts with our parents. They lecture us for everything. If you dig your nose you get a lecture. If you climb a slide backwards you get an earful. If you eat with both hands – God forbid – you’ll be lectured about the demerits of eating with your left hand, until your meal is digested and passed out of your system.

Then we start schooling. That’s really 12 years of unending lecture sessions. Every subject teacher thinks we all need a lecture on diverse topics ranging from tidiness, discipline, running in the corridors, doing homework, presenting work neatly, revising your lessons, handwriting, asking permission to use the toilet or to drink water, doing extra reading on the subjects we are learning, eating healthy food, coming to school on time, polishing your shoes, cutting your nails, how boys should have short hair and girls should have long hair and not the other way around, revising your answer paper before submitting it, how to avoid silly mistakes in exams…and so on. On any given day, teachers can find many exciting topics and they unleash a flurry of words on a captive audience of bored students. I’m sure they are well meaning talks, but the student’s space out and go about their business of drawing nasty cartoons of the teacher in their rough note. Not a word of what the teacher says registers in the mind. Which is a pity, really.

You’d think, we’d be done with lectures once we leave school. But no. It continues in college. Worse still, here even the teachers graduate to being called ‘lecturers’ and they live up to their name! College lectures cover pretty much the same topics as the school ones. Only they are longer and more intense.

hairpullYou graduate. Hurray! And you think you’re done with lectures. You’re about to get into the corporate world. You’re free to do what you like. Think what you like. You’re officially an adult – who earns. But the joke is on you my friend. Because the lectures now come from all your bosses down the line. They get nastier in fact as each one takes out their anger and frustrations on you. Tips on how to do the job right. Do’s and don’ts. Rights and wrongs. These days you get to attend concalls from clients abroad and you hear lectures in myriad accents – on interesting topics like how to plan your work better and meet your deadlines.

If some of you are smirking out there saying, you’re a home maker and these office politics don’t apply to you. Well, I have news for you! If you thought your mother was the lecture expert, your mother in law, takes over the mantle with aplomb and runs with it wholeheartedly. How to cook healthy meals, how to maintain a home, how to manage maids, how to bring up your kids…oh yes the list is endless.

Apart from these regulars, random people also lecture you:

The auto driver – if you dare to argue about the exorbitant fare he demands, he will lecture you on the rising cost of living.

The vegetable vendor – If you so much as raise your eyebrows upon reading the price tag on onions, the vendor will unleash upon you his theory of how the government deliberately hoards onions, increases prices and makes money on it.

The milk delivery man – If you go OMG about the milk prices – you will be subjected to the above mentioned onion like lecture on government atrocity.

The digital set top box repair guy – He will give you the works about how to use your remote and set top box right. So that it never breaks down and you never need his services ever again.

The family doctor – If you come down with the flu or something, then the trusted doctor will lecture you on how to take care of your health. What exercise to do, what vitamins to pop in so that you build better resistance.

Your friends – Oh yes. If you’re stuck with the wrong bunch of friends – they lecture too! If you don’t attend their parties. Or if you attend someone else’s parties. Or if you go off for a movie without them. Or you plan a trip with some other friends…then they give you an earful.

Your housemaid – The housemaid bunks work. It is her birthright. If you question her, she will lecture you about how you live in comfort and get running water in your taps. She has to pump water and carry them in pots and buckets to her home. This makes her sick. How dare you question her!blah_00033341

Your siblings and random cousins – If you forget to make those mandatory calls or write those emails updating them about your whereabouts…then you’ve had it!

Your yoga teacher or gym instructor – Oh boy! The lectures you get! Let’s not even get started on this…

All this while, mind you, the lecture from parents continue. In India, parents assume they need to keep teaching you to do things. Even if you are 60, your 90 year old mother will scold and lecture you on how to do things right.

The flip side?

By the time we are forty, we Indians are masters at giving lectures on any topic. And why not? We hear it every day from every possible source. So do lectures piss us off. Yes! Do we love to lecture. Yes! It’s a vicious circle. And we are well and truly trapped.

Note: Definition of lecture
– speech read or delivered before an audience or class, especially for instruction or to set forth some subject
- a speech of warning or reproof as to conduct; a long, tedious reprimand. verb (used without object), lectured, lecturing.
- instruct by lectures.
- to rebuke or reprimand at some length


The great Indian traveller…

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. The call Taxi is waiting outside the door (darn and his meter is ticking more and more). But I still need to pray and light the lamp…

Yeah, the era of middle class, past middle age Indians traveling abroad has blossomed. Whether the world is ready for them or not…they’re ready to take on the world for sure. They carry with them their quirks, their love for Indian food and the strong belief that they indeed are holier than thou.

Mom is back from her European sojourn as I had mentioned in my last post. And she is full of stories – not just of the wonderful sights she saw – but also of the Indian counterparts who travelled with her. From whatever she said, here’s my classification of the great Indian traveller:

Mr. I-know-it-all
He carries with him maps, literature, books and print outs of all the places you’re about to see. And he is very keen to show off his knowledge – even if you’re not really interested in hearing it. Most often he is annoyingly loud (yeah louder that your guide) and loves to dispute with the guide on the facts he/she is reeling out. If the guide wisely chooses to ignore him, he conducts a parallel guide style lecture. Love him, hate him, admire him…but somehow learn to tolerate him, if he’s there in your tour group!

Note: Imagine everyone’s irritation when their self proclaimed expert got himself lost in Vatican City and the entire bus load had to wait for an hour while they tried to locate him. Finally the bus left for sightseeing of Rome without him. They later found him looking lost in an art gallery, and brought him back to the hotel. Apparently the next day he got into the bus and apologized to the entire group and then whined that his wife was not talking to him!! (Not surprising eh?). The good news for the group was that he more or less kept to himself after that.

The food bazaar
“Ah…Indian food. Full of masala and spice. Not like the bland food these foreigners eat!” complain the food bazaar category. And…hold your breath…they carry food for the entire tour duration (15-20 days) with them!! So while you daintily munch your baguette, cheese and tomato sandwiches, they pull out piles of methi theplas, top it with spicy chilli pickle and gobble it all. They’re rather sweet though and have enough and more to generously offer all their co-passengers! Amusing, but not really annoying, this category of people are quite ok to travel with.

The fruit fanatics
Usually in package tours, you’re booked into neat hotels and breakfast in generally included in the tariff. A delightful spread of continental breakfast awaits you each morning. Starting from 20 varieties of breakfast cereals, all kinds of cakes, pancakes, eggs, crepes, fruit juices, fresh seasonal fruits…duh…but where do the fruits disappear each morning? The hotel staffs at each venue were left perplexed as their extensive fruit basket kept getting empty at the speed of light. What was happening of course was that amidst the great Indian contingent of travelers there was a group that bought bags with them into which they quickly loaded all the fruits. This was in addition to the heavy breakfast they all tucked in. The fruits were to be had ‘on the way’ or for lunch. So that, of course, they can save on the lunch and snacks fare. This behaviour was of course most embarrassing for the rest of the group – who were not pinching the fruits. Apparently the tour guide got complaints from the hotels and he had to tell the group not the pinch fruits. How embarrassing!

The compulsive kleptomaniac!
Ah but the fruit pinchers are not half as embarrassing as the compulsive kleptomaniacs! Mom was sitting next to an elderly lady – she guesstimated to be about 75 plus – now this lady had a weird habit of robbing stuff from all souvenir stores! While she also bought plenty of stuff, she always managed to stuff a few things into her bag when no one was watching. Mom caught her in the act at least four times and of course kept a good distance from her all through the trip. According to her the lady was living really dangerously. She never did get caught – but one dreads to think what would happen if the 75 year old did get caught stealing…

The hotel shampoo collectors
You guessed it. They take away all the shampoo, soaps, moisturizer…in short everything that’s complimentary at the hotel. Apparently they had dumped it all in their hand baggage and were asked to unload all of it at the airport – after a security check revealed liquids in their hand bags. Most embarrassing, if you ask me. But they of course were more angry than embarrassed!

Then there are the regular kind who will complain about everything from the weather to the food, to the clothes people wear…my point is, if you cannot enjoy anything other than your own streetscape why travel at all?

They say travel broadens your mind. And I shall end this post on that positive, hopeful note…