Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My take on some attitudes

Alright, this is not something I left behind! But since we were on the topic of people and attitudes, I had no choice but to pen this one piece that I have wanted to write about for a very very long time.

The manner in which people carry themselves, as a function of their cultural mores. Ok. This is not a general gyaan session. Its just that I have had a rather large dose of 'gyaan' and so my text may appear gnarled and rambling, much along those lines!

Ok, so getting to the point. I am a Southie, but since I hail from Mumbai, I have had the chance to see people of different cultures thrown together into one huge melting pot called Mumbai. And here are some observations. Two rather, since I want to restrict my gyaan to only two points today. (Psst. I am taking the comments exhorting me to adopt brevity on my posts rather seriously).

So, one - as a community, Gujjus know how to live life king size. And that is something I truly admire. They believe in comfort and an optimal use of their resources to afford enough zing in their lifestyle. That is something Southies have no clue about, in general. The mentality is more like - who cares who sees how I live. So there are seldom any spur-of-the-moment movie outings, or simple 'going out on a drive' events. A coffee event is a coffee at a nearby Udipi place, as against perhaps a Barista or a CCD. Not that I am for indiscriminate expenditure, but the 'stylish' manner of operation in any event is missing amongst Southies to a very great extent.

Second, the dressing sense. Oh man! Trust a Gujju, a Sindhi or a Punjabi to look dapper at all times. Be it a visit to the post office, a doctor's office or even a party. Not a hair out of place, clothes in perfect shape, and a dressing sense that matches them and actually makes them look attractive. Take Southies in contrast. The Kya farak padta hai attitude literally drips into their clothing. Matchless match clothes, over sized long t-shirts not tucked into trousers, perhaps even a soiled dhoti at times. Women with long plaited wavy hair, that hangs in an unruly manner, as if the lady has done the hair a favor by keeping the strands on her head! Sorry to be so blunt, and all I can say to all those Southies who take offence is that I am a Southie as well, although I have had the opportunity to interact and move around the dapper junta, and so, my 'cultural sensibilities' seem to have been influenced a lot more by them, than by my natural community.

That's when I got to thinking why! Why are Southies seldom ever conscious of their societal mannerisms. I chose to believe that their spending attitudes are influenced by a history of poverty. Current generation middle aged people have risen from the dust and made something out of their lives. And so, the inherent nature to save every penny and categorize the supposed good life as frivolous. Secondly, the sloppy dressing. I have seen Israelis who care a jot about their dressing as well, and given the fact that Israelis form the smartest section of the world population, I got to thinking whether the proverbial South Indian arrogance associated with their supposed 'superior big brains' was responsible for their attitude towards their appearance, assuming a parallel between Southies and Israelis could be made. If this indeed is the case, I guess I'd say its time we got off the high horse, since no one likes seeing a sloppily dressed, stingy jockey!


Ananthu said...

I remember reading one research. In US, people who feel that they have to be seen in a high social status, spend more on "visible accessories". May be southies dont care about that. Also think this way. How many Gujju's, Sindhi's Punjabi's married outside the community. May be they are too much self-conscious and have too much peer pressure, dont want their community to think inferior about them.

The southies you see dont have time to think what others feel about them..All they are interested is to have a better life than what they would have had at the place where they hail from.

Pappoos said...

Now I call this controversy. I wonder where you picked up this observation. Are we talking about "Southies" in mumbai? Or is this something you noticed first hand in south india with certain people?
Coz I have lived down here long and been to almost all of South India and have failed to see this lack of dressing sense to pick one amongst the few views you have mentioned. And living in Bangalore I live amongst a good mix from people all over India and we always lived with a contrary view about the sloppy feature being brought into the south from up there. I am not making an argument but sharing a view that we have often discussed amongst friends here.
For instance I want to belong to the category that you mention of southies and not care about how i dress up or live with the dapper effect. But there is this pressure from the societal demand to be well dressed. And this does not come from the city of bangalore for its mix. I have noticed this more in the other places in South and to name a few, Trivandrum, Kochi, Chennai, Mysore and Pondicherry. But to admit my dilemma I do feel suffocated about the fact that people were so well dressed even while at home or just walking up to the nearby grocery store. So I must refute this argument. I am sorry but just can't even remotely agree to your "sloppy, stingy, southies" classification.

Nissim said...

This reminded me of a blog written by a super duper senior at IIMA- Sidin Vadukut. Have no good internet access- search for Blossom Babykutty on google with this guy's name plz.

Subu said...

Heh - i suppose you have met only southies who have settled down in Mumbai. Usually what happens is whenever someone goes out of their town to settledown elsewhere, they take a snapshot of their place and try to live that for ever (think the girl's father in DDLJ). So probably this might have been the case a long time back in south, and these "southies" are probably trying to live up to that time.

You should meet the southies in my office (including me - though I am not considered one of them for a lack of mush:( ) to see what I am saying.

May be the stereotype still exists, but the supporting actors have long since faded away.

Anonymous said...

I read your blog of 21 APRIL. It is really nice. I used to feel the same when I was in my twenties. After so many years of observation I found some logic .
As south Indians we are a bit more into ACHARAM{cleanliness} which is related in a very strong way to the spiritual methods, that we follow.
For instance, taking hair bath everyday is one of the requirements.So coming out in the morning with loose hair is part of life.This is a normal happening in south. We dont change our habit in spite of changing our place to MUMBAI DELHI or CHICAGO.
Whereas north Indians, because of the cold climate don't observe this habbit and so, they perhaps always presentable.One more thing I observed in a north Indian household the granny[BAA] will would read RAMAYAN sitting on her bed! as part of her prayer. Can you imagine such a thing in our side.The reason is this; Because of cold climate they cannot take hair bath everyday like we do. They need not sit on the floor. They observe these practices wherever they are and we south Indians though we've moved out of that climate stick to our practices and present ourselves differently in contrast to the neighbourhood.

When we were in middle east I felt the sharp difference between a FILLIPINO nurse and a south Indian nurse.
So this is the STICKLER TO THE RULE behaviour of ours that makes us present ourselves differently.

I take your blog post not as a commentary on southies but as an observation .I have given my thought process on the same.


Sindhu Subramaniam said...

@ Janaki Sundaram
Thankyou madam for your comment. I find the perspective rather interesting. It never quite crossed my mind that there could be psychographic and climate-related aspects that literally go into behavioral mores of people who move out of their typical 'habitats'. What I chanced here was more of an attempt to list out what I saw in some places, and what I interpreted therein, nothing more and nothing less. Absolutely not meant to be an affront to anyone at all. In case it hurt sentiments, I am extremely sorry. But your perspective really explains what I see to a very great extent. Thank you and do keep visiting my blog...