JournalismPakistan.com June 1, 2014
This could happen to you. These days it happens far more often than you think.
Sri was studying at a US University in a small town in California when his father came to visit him. Now, his dad is a golf nut and any chance he gets he plays anywhere in the world.
So his son dutifully arranged for him to play a round and the pretty neat course in the area beckoned invitingly. Since it is a very small place there are only a couple of cabs and they run in a sort of pick up school bus fashion and it is all buddy buddy.
The morning of the game dad was running late and the delay for the tee off was made much worse by the cab picking up people on the way. When it made a detour and picked up this Californian beach poster boy with a tan, blue eyes and blonde hair dad could not resist showing his displeasure to his son.
In Telugu he launched a tirade against cabbies, these odd people who shared vehicles, what sort of country is this, do you know how late I will be. The gentleman in front kept smiling vacuously as dad stepped it up a bit. Sri tried to explain that this was small town America, but dad was not really warming to his task and adding some colorful Telugu sayings that would make a decent sailor blush.
Fifteen minutes later even as his father had still not wound down they reached the drop off for the silent American.
He got off, opened the back door and said to the father, “It has been a pleasure riding with you, I hope we meet again, and do enjoy your golf game and I hope you are not too late for the start.”
In perfect Telugu.
He was the ‘varsity resident professor on South Indian languages on his way to the library.
Clearly, Dad did not get much of a game that morning.
So never assume (as so many of us from our part of the world do) that when you begin to speak on a one-on-one in your mother tongue the third party with the blank face isn’t an expert on the subject.
Besides which, it isn’t very good manners and I see it occur so often. Two people meet and they have a common lingo so they just simply forget the other people on the same sofa or next to them and start off chatting with no regard for those who now are precluded because they cannot understand them.
It really gets worse when you want to be rude and you mumble those single short sentences at each other and even if you keep a blank face the other party knows they are the target of your unflattering remarks.
You have been there, we all have and it is even worse when you do it to people you know and are sharing space within the same social gathering.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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