Adjectivals for all seasons

I am not sure if I am the only one who has noticed this trend in most conversations these days. There seems to be an overflow of positive adjectives and phrases in the atmosphere, no matter what the situation. If you have heard expressions like ‘awesome’, ‘fantabulous’, ‘marvellous’, ‘splendid’, ‘perfect’, uttered in incongruous circumstances coupled with a plastic smile on the face, it will be easy for you to zero in on what I am trying to communicate.

Once I complained about a long pending cheque. The receptionist who heard me remarked, “That’s fantastic!” I was stung by the sarcasm since she was responsible for setting the matter right; I refrained from commenting on the subject, however. I have often heard people remark ‘super’ or ‘superb’ with a bright streak in their demeanour just after I have made unfavourable observations about the weather or some such mundane thing, making me wonder if I have done anything to evince a mocking response from them.

I realised later that I was not alone at  the receiving end. The other day, I noticed that the attendants of a high-end restaurant spewed these adjectives with unerring regularity and a smiling face to everyone in the dining hall, no matter what was being said to them. Just then, a young mother asked one of the attendants to help her as her baby had relieved himself, without his diaper on. The waiter mouthed his rehearsed lines with the right expression. It was only when someone pointed out that he had stepped on the mess; he grimaced and unwittingly added, “That is wonderful,” out of sheer habit!
What seemed to be a hilarious situation at that moment made me realise that we have created unthinking zombies in the process of training people in westernised etiquette and the English language in order to cater to the large urban market which has embraced the Queen’s tongue as its common language.

Young migrants from small towns and villages, urban school dropouts and youngsters from low income groups who may or may not have academic qualifications undergo rigorous training to be courteous, and answer frequently asked questions in a language not their own. They wear uniforms which do not conform to their ethnicity and deal with unfamiliar items and subjects that do not feature in their daily lives. They are a confused lot, for they certainly do not want to pursue the humble occupation of their families, nor can they step up to the levels of their educated urban counterparts. Surely, employers and entrepreneurs can find a middle path which will not take away the unique nativity of our country.

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