Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Why Indians give advice?

Suddenly it occurred to me yesterday that unlike English we don't have that many expressions for showing sympathy, formally, to someone who's sick or hurt. In English you just hear someone say they are in a bad way and you can let loose with a multitude of platitudes.

"Oh, so sorry to hear of your accident, mate!"
"Aww, I am sorry!"
"Oh, may he rest in peace!"
"Get well soon!" (that one sounds more like an order).

We have none of those. I mean we have the words and sentences in Hindi, but they are not in use so much in real life. If you start saying those things in real, it sounds phony and dramatic.

I remember a line I read long ago - हिन्दुस्तान में राय  और चाय हर जगह बिना मांगे मिलती हैं।

(In India, you get advice and tea unasked everywhere.)

Maybe that's the reason.

We don't want to sound phony like a politician by quoting platitudes so we show our compassion and sympathy (of which we have an abundance) by giving advice.

As soon as you say, "I am feeling a bit of fever.", Uncle Ji would say, "Arre beta, you must take care, this season is not very good. Take two of ..." and so on. Some people would show off their knowledge of off-the-counter medicines while others would advise herbal remedies. Those who don't possess any specialized knowledge would at least tell you to see a doctor, or even recommend their doctor to you.

What I am saying is that, despite the lack of formal concern-showing phrases in daily use, we have our ways of showing genuine concern and compassion for a friend in distress. Where a Western woman would say, "Oh, get well soon, dear!", an Indian woman would say, "मैं अदरक की चाय बनाकर लाती हूँ आपके लिए।" (I will make some ginger tea for you.)

Of course, this a very generic and very subjective picture of both cultures and exceptions exist on both sides but....I am just dumping my thoughts on paper here and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Click that comment button.


Irfanuddin said...

indeed there is epidemic of free advise in our society...there are many people who constantly tell others to do things this way or that way and its not just limited to buying books or house hold goods but when one should get married or have children etc etc which is supposed to be individuals own business....and at times these advises become so irritating....:(

BTW an interesting topic by you Sunil.... :)

Bikramjit said...

glad you said generic for we are losing a lot of rituals etc ..

I doubt if people in cities and living the modern life will ask you or make you a adrak ki chaye theese days


Anupama K. Mazumder said...

Its the concern that matters, isnt it?


Always Happy said...

very true......ekdum sahi...and LOLing on Hidustaan mein raai or chai har jagah bina maangey milthi hai.....

I am down with flu today.....colleagues at work have sent texts to say hope i feel better soon which is sweet but the friend in India who i was chatting with ( after a very long time) said, garam soup piyo,aaraam karo, ghar se baahar mat niklo aaj,kal ho sakey tho doc ke pass jao...see, we were talking after ages yet she had a list of DOs and Donts for me...your post makes perfect sense to me....

Ther are times when we would want to hear a bit more than just sorry to hear or hope you feel better soon..also, there are times when we could do with little less of yeh mat karo, woh mat karo, aisey karo, waise karo etc...

Both ways of showing concern are very different and good in their own different ways.

Cute little post [hope my comment isnt longer than the actual post :-)]....good to read

Always Happy said...

where has my comment disappeared?

Sunil Goswami said...

Sorry folks, I have just found all the unpublished comments that were waiting for moderation. I didn't get the notification emails. So, now that I have published them I will respond to all of them.

@Bikram - that is true. Some of the rituals were comforting as well especially when performed by mother or a close family member.

@Irfan ji, thank you, I am glad you liked it. Marriage advice is usually the first one people feel justified in giving. Sometimes it amuses me but most times it annoys me. :)

@Anupama - Welcome to my blog. Yes, of course, the concern matters, but the expression of concern also matter. Have you had a situation where you got hurt and your "well-wisher" said immediately on seeing you - "Pagal bhi to hai tu, ekdam dhyaan nahin rakhti!" even before they knew what happened?

@AH - It is nice to see you back on blogosphere. Thanks for the comment, you know I love long comments. :)
Sorry to hear you were not well, hope you took lots of rest and herbal tea and .....:)

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