Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kitna padhogi?

Its been ages since I ranted about India and Indianisms... which is of course a main feature on this blog ;) So since its been long overdue, here is one thing that irritates me quite a bit. After having lived to my age, and in the US, one thing that I have realized is that life is not the same, nor does it follow a similar pattern, for most people. Each and every one of us lives differently, and makes different choices. It is often not even just about choices, it is sometimes just life that happens to us. Man proposes, God disposes.... Life turns out the way it does, and even though we have control of some parts, sometimes life takes its own twists and turns.

To go back to my point, all our lives take different paths, both by choice and happenstance. It is just downright silly to compare lives- so I did not live the typical circumscribed Indian life of finishing my education at 22, getting a job, getting married by 25 and having two kids by 30. Yes, lots of people live that life, and lots of people don't. In fact, I know any number of men and women who have not followed the above path. I have not, and I find it really irritating when my friends and acquaintances feel it is within their purview to comment on my life choices/ circumstances. Especially my education!!

Yes, that is my problem. Just because I have studied a LOT, people think its weird. They think it is perfectly all right to say offensive things to me about my education. A friend of mine recently contacted my via Linkedin after SEVEN years, and his message- Kitna padhogi? Ab to padhai bas karo!
So this guy has nothing else to say to me after SEVEN years? Not even a courtesy greeting to preface his offensive remarks! I did not even know how to react. This is something that has happened to me often, both by friends and relatives. One of my friends - the happy mother of two kids who followed the prescribed path- was visiting the US recently. We met after a gap of eight years. And again, this was her first comment... kitna padhegi?

I have heard a lot of similar stuff from my relatives, most of whom have commented on my education at some time or the other. I just don't know why people have such problems. Luckily for me, I was funded for most of my higher education, both in India and the US. I could obviously not have afforded to study so much without the funding I got.

So I get money/scholarships to study, I spend my own life doing so, and I do my own work. And yet, these people pop up after ages, and comment on my life choices. I know people who have studied way more than me. I know people with two PhD's, forget about my mere two Masters. I know people who go back to school for the sheer joy of it. I know people who go to school in their 50's. And I am filled with admiration for them. For having chosen to live a little bit differently.

Is it because Indians think it is perfectly all right to meet after ten years and yet be familiar enough to comment on other people's life and life choices? I wish I could say something to shut such people up without being rude. Any suggestions?


Psych Babbler™ said...

To be honest, I wouldn't care if I was being rude when I replied to these people. It's none of their business how much you study! I guess I tend to give people flippant answers to such questions...it's not being downright rude but there's a warning in the tone that says don't mess with me. It's like when I went to India a couple of yrs ago (age 25) and since I had finished my studies the year before, the automatic assumption was the prescribed path and I got asked that by several family friends and all I said was "Marriage....now??? Are you kidding me! No way! Why would I want to do that now when I've only been working a year" Or something along those lines. :P

Richa said...

I feel your pain. Been there, done that. Actually make it, I am there and doing that. Not just with studies but other stuff as well like, as PB said, marriage, coming back to India, joining academics etc. Its like society has already decided my path and since I am not following it, it automatically gives every XYZ to point me in that direction. All I want to do at those time is scream "Its none of your business!" I never told them what career path they should choose, who, why or when they should be married, then who gave them right to interfere in my life..

I especially hate the comment "Kitna padhogi?" I mean I understand when a granny ask me that since life has changed so much since her time but someone from my generation ask me that: that gets me over the edge. If its online, I don't answer at all. If its face-to-face , I simply shrug (at times I hate myself for being non-confrontational).

Stupid people.

bins said...

You read my mind Rachna. I am trying to pursue an MBA and have started my application process and this is all I hear. The funny part is my parents are encouraging me to study. It is my friends and other extended family that is asking me the same question and telling me that I will never find a boy because I will be over educated. Don't understand how someone can be over educated, if I had my way I would study for life. Just to be confrontational I used to tell them I don't want to get married but that opens another bucket of worms so these days I just smile and walk away. :). Wish there was a way to tell these people to mind their own business.

Rachna said...

@PB- I don't like being rude to my relatives mostly- they are all close to me but yet so nosy. Also since i meet them so rarely, would not like to be rude! Wish there was an easier way.

@Richa- I think its ok to be non-confrontational, things only get worse if you do! Esp with family!! You never know ki phir log kitni baat badhayenege chadayenge... But yes, there are times when I want to be really really REALLY rude :)

@Bindi- you go girl! All the best for the MBA. And bahut overeducated ladke hain is duniya mein ;) Actually the best policy is to smile and walk away and say nothing.

Nepo said...

the best answer i feel to 'kitna padhogi?' will be 'till the time I enjoy doing so!'.. i feel its neither rude, and should "ideally" shut them off :)
continue doing what you enjoy!!

Agnija said...

I hear ya! This is what I used to get, but even more obnoxious. Something like "if you keep studying, your parents will have to find a "boy" that's more qualified than you!". I used to be mad at those questions, but now, after all these years, they leave me well alone. If I had the foresight then, I might have answered "zindagi bhar!" because life is about learning!

rt said...

Really I don't think anyone is actually commenting about you as for being a girl and studying- I(am a girl/woman) and my friends keep commenting on a doc friend of mine(guy) who is doing his PG and is planning PhD.
I have heard some such comments for my masters including the hard to get a gud guy one and dint pay attention. i really don't think they mean anything and wont even care to bother about such a passing remark- it works as a conversation striker and I leave it at that-picking conversation on something else.