The intrusive streak

Wherever you go, the intrusive and inquisitive Indian is just around the corner.

The Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has written a book titled Argumentative Indians. He should have, however, covered not just the argumentative aspects of Indians but also the inquisitive and intrusive traits that majority of us are genetically born with, and cultivate as we move along in life. 

If I may call myself an avid reader, then clearly, it was the inquisitive/ intrusive Indians who led me in that direction. In my early days of corporate life, I travelled through the length and breadth of the country, but learnt quickly enough that it was safer to pick up a book and immerse myself in it to exclude everything around me unless, of course, I wanted to be bombarded with at least one dozen questions and half a dozen unsolicited pieces of advice. 

It would usually begin with a smile from your fellow traveller followed by introductions of each other. Not bad so far but it wouldn’t end there. If you were flying, say, from Delhi to Bangalore, the question would be: Are you from Delhi? And if your reply was that you were from Bangalore, then you would have to narrate the history of your life; where you were born, where did you study, what was your profession, your marital status, the number of children you had, what were they doing, whether you owned the house you lived in or was it rented, and which part of Bangalore it was in.

 This is not an experience exclusive to me because many of my friends have been through similar situations. 

Of course, this conversation would be punctuated by the fellow traveller giving the details of his family, his business, his children, how many in India, how many overseas, their professions and the two cars that his America-settled son had. After a brief gap of snoring, the conversation would be resumed and usually followed by your understanding of the current political and economic scenario and where the country was headed.

After a while, the small talk would turn into a monologue by the expert sitting next to you giving unsolicited opinion on national and international affairs. No amount of hints would make any difference. If you took out a book to read, then you would be queried over your reading habits, your favourite authors and why you liked them.

When the food is served, the fellow traveller may give it a pass by telling the hostess that he was suffering from loose motions and therefore, had to play safe. Not a very happy context when you are ready to start your meal!

When you think you have finally rid your back of the ‘Intrusive Indian’, think again. You may find him sitting next to you in the airport bus where the conversation leads to how you would be heading home and if you mention that there was a car with a driver waiting for you, a gentle request for a drop will follow. After all, it is just a small diversion from your main route. But, if you have not been through such experiences, well, it is time to count your blessings. 

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