Sundeep Bhutoria

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life’s like that

During my recent visit to Amritsar, I asked my driver on way to the hotel from the airport,  “What is the population of Amritsar.” Very smartly he replied that it was more than Ludhiana. At the new airport restaurant, where I had stepped in as my flight was delayed by two hours, I inquired if brown toast was available with tea. The waiter earnestly said that he would toast the white bread brown for me.
We are often amused by such innocuous answers from our day-to-day interactions with others. I was looking for brown bread in the land of makhan (butter), ghee (clarified butter), parantha  and lassi. It happens in almost every part of our country and beyond.
Life’s like that.
I recall, I was at the Delhi-Bikaner House and someone asked the driver of a direct coach to Jaipur – “Will it go directly to Jaipur.” The driver had innocently replied, “No. Bahror is on the way via Gurgaon.”
Several times on the Kolkata-Delhi flight, people known to me have come up to me after the take off and asked, “Are you going to Delhi?” or “Where are you going to?”
Though it is mostly funny, sometimes, depending on your mood, one may find such queries very irritating and stupid. Well, whether people casually ask these questions to break the ice and start off a conversation or they do it in right earnest is something we can only surmise. Sometimes, after the airhostess distribute the newspapers on flight, I have heard passengers inquire if it were today’s newspaper.
Last week, inside Hall 4 at the Inox Forum, just as the movie was about to start a couple known to me entered and while passing by asked me which movie I had come to see. When I said “Jai Hanuman,” they realized what a question they had asked.
In India, there are lots of jokes on Sardars, Bengalis, Punjabis, Gujratis, Marwaris, Biharis and South Indians. I think these funny jokes, targeting different communities, are there because we want to highlight the funny or foolish aspects of the other community without realizing that the other communities do the same with us. The content remains the same, only the name of the community changes.
This has got to do with a certain psychology that seeks out a reason to spark off conversation.
During my trips to European countries, so many times I have noticed tourists standing on the platform and the platform number clearly indicated or displayed in front of them. Yet they would confirm from the ticket examiner that number of the platform. Similarly, many tourists, despite seeing the destination clearly mentioned on the coaches of the train, would crosscheck it was indeed so. How do we explain this – Fear of getting lost? Lack of confidence or self esteem? Or may be as I said earlier - Life’s like that.
ess bee

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