Just like the American Dream, we Indians have a desi version of it – The Great Indian Dream. It starts from our childhood when the pressure of studies is invariably thrus upon us. Study well (read score only 90 and above), get a job in an MNC only with a good package and if possible an onsite opportunity too. Then of course MARRIAGE and KIDS happen, and then etc etc. The point that one must note here is that the thought that a job provides safety and security is drilled deep into our heads. The prospect of doing a business drives our parents crazy. Thus, most of us regretfully fall in the “service class” except for the few adventurous ones who explore Bizness. Nonetheless, we are all business men/business women. In fact, I feel we Indians are attuned to business right from the time we are little racing sperms. Of course the source of our training begins at home just like Charity. Most of the times our elders don’t even realize that it is through them that we are aping and shaping our business skills. And thus we all get inducted in to this business of National Interest or The National Business. This business skill is not taught in any management school. No, No, I am not even talking about the dread MLM- Multi Level Marketing either. This business is like energy, constant and consistent in our genes.
This business is called “Poking One's Nose in Someone Else’s Life”. To ease its pronunciation, I have abbreviated it to PONSEL. I quite like the name. There are separate names to it too, like, “doosron ke phate mein taang adana, chuadhary ban na etc etc. I am unsure what is it called in different Indian languages. In case you know, please enlighten me. The phrases like, “none of your business” had been developed to counter this business and its propagators (whom I call PONSEL’s). Sometimes, the F word is also accommodated in the sentence. Certain harsh phrases in Hindi like “tere baap ka kya jaata hai” (loosely translated – what goes off your father) had also been developed to counter this concept. PONSEL's are often addressed as "Morons", "Idiots" and in recent times "A-holes" has been topping the charts. However, this business like a cult has grown by leaps and bounds and has been passed on as a legacy to future generations.
If history is to be believed, foundation of this business was laid millions of years ago. No scripture or text though reveals about the major contributors to this concept. I am also unsure if it was initiated by the X chromosome or its counterpart the Y one. However, the X chromosome has been pretty active in the expansion of this concept. Ironically, PONSEL binds India together and has often been synonymous to judging, stereotyping, and gossiping too. I mean go to any part of India you shall find propagators of PONSEL. People from all walks of life and from all faiths can be found in this business.
Remember your neighborhood aunty who often told your mother that her daughter’s skimpy dressing will land her in a problem? Do you recall the well meaning Sharma uncle who has been the reason why you were pushed in to engineering though you craved for a Hotel Management degree? How about those many girls who shunned you because you spoke to “boyis” which meant that you have a loose character? Or how about your well meaning aunty who wanted you to get married at 25 so that by the time you are 55 your kids are “SETTLED”.The PONSEL's are experts in every subject - religion, career, maternity, relationships, health etc etc. You name it, they know it. Peep in to your own lives and you will find umpteen numbers of examples to understand my point.
This business has been thriving for centuries and if experts are to be believed it will continue to thrive with the same vigor for the next few centuries too. If stats are to be believed, PONSEL’s have witnessed a tremendous growth of about 300 % in the last decade thanks to the technology. With the advent of technology and its fruits like, emails, whats app, viber, LINE, facebook etc etc, PONSEL’s have been able to reach far off relatives and ex-neighbors with ease. Facebook though has reported a certain decline off late due to the Blocking application. However, users of whatsapp and viber have reported a consistent growth.
In one of the weddings that I had been to, my faith in PONSEL’s of the Y generation (or whats app generation) was restored. The bride and groom beamed on the stage while they did their customary Namaste and feet touching act. R has never been an active participant during such gatherings and has failed miserably in our national business. I think that’s because of his Y chromosome. But my X chromosomes push me to be actively involved during these times. So I sat on the red colored sofa which was placed very close to the stage, adored the bride and the groom and simultaneously kept an eye on their gifts( the grooms mother thought people may steal it).As I was playing my part of that of a CBI inspector, I heard a very interesting conversation.
“The bride earns more than the groom, isn’t it?” A girl with the maroon lipstick whispered.
“Yeah yeah. She is with such a big company. But see the groom is better looking than her.” The girl with the brown lipstick responded.
“It is for the money that he has married her. Else there are girls dying to marry him.” – Red Lipstick girl
“Jaane de na, apne ko kya( leave it ya, how does it matter to us).” – Brown Lipstick
In fact weddings or social gatherings are the place where PONSEL’s find their prospects. Some prospects are victimized, some replicate the PONSEL business going further, or some escape it. In almost all the gatherings that I have attended I was either looked as a prospective bride or a prospective procreation machine. Thus, off late I started flaunting my mangalsutra and snake long sindoor to escape aunties and uncles who were eager to know if I am married. If not they could suggest the alliance of their daughters husbands aunt’s neighbors sisters son for me. If yes, then it was a different game altogether. I thought I had out mastered them. But I was so wrong. The focus shifted from my forehead (that is where the sindoor is visible) to my tummy.
"How long have you been married?" Staring at my tummy.
"6 years." Me uncomfortable.
"How many kids?" The stare still unbelievably stuck at my tummy.
"None." Me getting up to walk away.
"Huuuuuuuuh!!! Almost in a heart attack mode… jaldi karo."
"Sure aunty" and then Running mode.
Nonetheless, I had burnt my fingers so often that I learnt my lesson, well. So when I attended the recent wedding, I confidently faked a baby bump.