Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bottle It Up

The concept of turning a blind eye is an art form in India. Let me give you a few examples:
Public urination - Traveling just a few kms down any road and you'll spot at least l person, any time day or night, relieving themselves. That's a fact. If you don't see one, your eyes are closed.
Bathing in public - You gotta be clean right? No matter who's watching you soap up.
With an estimated 2011 population of 1,189,172,906 people are makin' babies....somewhere, at some time. 
Comparatively, in the US: 
We close the door to our private bathroom when we need to go 1 or 2. Well....most of us. I even know a few folks that will hold it until they get home to use their own bathroom because the thought of going into a public restroom, complete with latching door, is more exposure then they can fathom.
The shower curtain industry is alive and well. I'd venture to guess ALL homes in the US have either a curtain or a door on their shower.
Fewer babies are conceived per capita, with the US population somewhere around 311,800,000 in 2011. Western prudish ways, including indecency laws, prohibit public procreation.
So that brings me to my point. Things happen here. In public. People see no shame in letting it all hang out. No one looks around sheepishly if they experience a bodily function in a crowd of people. Very few apologize for letting out a loud belch, or other gastric murmurings within earshot of others.
Additionally, what many US citizens would only say/do in the privacy of their own home, or at least behind closed doors in frantic whispers, is done in wide open spaces here. Or at least the space that's left after you crowd 1,189,172,906 people into a single country. I have been appalled on a few occasions to witness parents whooping their children, husbands whooping their wives, men whooping one another, verbal whooping between day laborers, you name it. Daily I'm a whooping witness.
While many people fantasize about having that public catfight and really calling someone out in the hopes of humiliating them in front of a crowd, I see it here ALL THE TIME. Yet no one seems to care. If I hear shouting going on outside my door, I go stand out and watch the action. And everyone else just passes by. Auto's just simply drive around them. No one stops. No one seems to notice.
I don't know what shocks me more, the fact that people feel it necessary or acceptable to carry out such behavior in public or the fact that none of the public seems to give a damn. Perhaps it's my prudish Western mentality that finds it so disgraceful. I feel the need to control myself in these situations because my instinct is to tell them to shut the hell up, or at least  to carry out their business in private.
I have been trying to convince myself that perhaps this is a better way. Get it out there. Air your grievances. Make sure there are several witnesses...let off some steam. But I just can't shake my prudish American instincts of feeling that it's demonstrating a lack of class, education, and is just down right rude and disrespectful. Not only to the person you're shouting at, or those passers by, but disrespectful to yourself as well. I couldn't look my neighbors in the eyes of they overheard between myself and ANYONE else like I've seen/heard too many times to count. Bottle it up.


  1. Ameena you have a nice blog. I guess fighting in public is never seen as rude in India. Because all don't have the luxury of private space. I know my maid or female living in small town prefer to fight in public so their husbands won't beat them and they can get some sympathy from their neighbours. Hence the people who are affluent and well to do never show such behaviours in public. Also sometimes if outside poke their nose in such public fights they can get harmed or insulted. This is such common scene on roads that ppl are immune to it and turn a blind eye. Public toilets and public hygiene is gross everywhere in India and I don't know what one can do to make it change.

  2. Akshaya you bring up a lot of good points and I support your assessment of why people have such discussions in public, women especially.