Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, Gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Nema, Noor, Ordinary Joe, Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic.
The Complex Indian Art of Saying No
Indians do not like to say ‘no,’ be it verbally or non- verbally. This stems from the basic premise that every person who comes to you is an Athithee or guest of Honour and is the representation of the Divine. So you cannot say no to God can you?
Rather than disappoint you they will give a reply that they think you want to hear. If you ask for something, isn’t of saying that it is not available, Indians will offer you something else closest to what you asked for. This behaviour is not to be considered as dishonest. An Indian would be considered terribly rude if he did not attempt to give a person what had been asked.
Since we do not like to give negative answers, we may give an affirmative answer but make it so complex or so vague about any specific details that it will baffle you. Actually we are sending out non-verbal cues, such as a reluctance to commit to an actual time for a meeting or an enthusiastic response to a proposition taking into consideration that on that day we are already committed to a family event, an alumni meet and the kids performance at school!
Indian names too can be pretty complex. It could be based upon caste, religion, social class, community, village of origin, family house name and region of the country.
Amongst the Hindus our Gods have hundreds and hundreds of names. In the north, many people have both a first name and a surname.
In the south the given/first name is the main one. So I would be R Padmini instead of Padmini Rajgopaul and N Padmini instead of Padmini Natarajan. The initial of father/husband appears in front of the given name. I could also call myself Padmini Iyer (Ayyar) or Padmini Sharma as my husband is an Ayyar—(one who belongs to the common religion amongst the Brahmins called Sanatana Dharma) and all Brahmins are called Sharma’s. If I were a strict adherent to Vishnu’s sect, then I would be called Padmini Iyengar. I could also take on my village name and be called Umayalpuram Rajgopaul Padmini shortened to U R Padmini and after marriage Melattoor Natarajan Padmini shortened to M N Padmini.
Many women used to change their first name after marriage. This has changed to some degree and surnames have come into being especially in the urban, MNC, Western influenced families.
People associate themselves by the groups to which they belong rather than by their status as individuals. A person is affiliated to a specific state, region, city, family, career path, religion, etc. This group orientation is based on the close personal ties we maintain with our family, including the extended family through marriage and alliances. The extended family creates many interrelationships, rules of behaviour—in terms of respect, doing the honours on a family occasion or festival or celebration and hierarchy. A deep-rooted trust among relatives is also taken for granted.
So this is just a thread unravelled in the matter of names and the complexity involved in relationships. If I were to sit and explain to you the different names that are ascribed to relationships according to paternal and maternal ties, you would be completely at your wits end. I hope I have been complex enough.