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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Sunday, January 12, 2014

No offence, but...

Yes, we all say that on occasion, but rarely, if ever, do we mean it – and maybe that’s not such a bad thing

Have you noticed how whenever someone wants to say something offensive, they start off with, “No offence, but…”? How when they mean to sound really disrespectful, they preface their remarks with, “With due respect…”? And that when they want to pass judgement on you, they kick off with, “Not to be judgemental, but…”? We’ve all done this little dance before being offensive, disrespectful or judgemental (or all three) and on the whole we tend to get away with it, because most people are too shamed, scared or polite to call us out.

But, more to the point, what all of this assumes is that being offensive, disrespectful or judgemental about people is plain wrong and we need to put in a quick disclaimer before saying anything that falls in those categories. Well, I am beginning to think that this is where we go wrong; in getting all defensive about our opinions because we feel that might cause offence, be deemed rude or come across as plain judgemental. There really is no need to apologise for any of the above. If we believe in a moral code, and live by certain principles, then there will always be times when we are offended by some people or by certain situations, and it is far from disrespectful to sit in judgement on such occasions.

Speaking for myself, these are just some of the situations in which I reserve the right to be judgemental about people – without caring whether I am offending anyone or, indeed, being less than respectful.

·       If I see another family party sitting down to enjoy an expensive meal in a fancy restaurant while the maid/nanny stands beside the table trying to restore order among the fractious children on the table. Ditto, lazy, feckless parents who refuse to discipline their children as they run around and create mayhem in public spaces. Or those who bring their bawling infants out for a late-night movie when the little mites should be tucked up in bed and fast asleep.
·       I know money can’t buy class, but there is something super-annoying when those who drive in uber-expensive cars, roll down the window at the traffic light to throw out litter, spit on the road, and then shout at the street children who are begging for some money to buy dinner, for dirtying their lovely car with their grimy hands.
·       Men who think that they are paying you a huge compliment when they call you ‘sweetie’ ‘honey’ ‘darling’ ‘babe’ or those who refer to grown-up women as ‘girls’. It’s not cute. It’s not endearing. It’s not acceptable. And you really need to stop, or else…
·       When people are queueing up in an orderly fashion at a bank, at airport check-in, or at security, you need to join the queue. Not at any point where you can squeeze yourself in but right at the back where the queue ends. Don’t tell me that you stepped out to make a quick phone call. Stop insisting that you were always standing behind that woman in the red kurta. And don’t claim that your flight is leaving and you need to be let through NOW. You are lying, you lying scumbag. Now get yourself right at the back, and wait like the rest of us.
·       Surely by now, you’ve seen enough hospital dramas on television to know that you are not supposed to use mobile phones in and around intensive care areas in a hospital. It’s not just about preserving peace and quiet for the patients but also to ensure that the phone signals don’t interfere with the life-saving equipment that is in use. So, while it won’t kill you to turn off your mobile, you may well end up killing someone if you don’t. If you really need to make – or take – that call, step outside.
·       I am all for praying to your particular God, but must you do so in the dead of night or at the crack of dawn, while using a loudspeaker for good measure? You do know that He (or She) can hear you perfectly well without those amplified sound waves, don’t you? But if you turn off that infernal loudspeaker, you may earn the blessings of your neighbours as well.
·       If you are above the age of 10, there really is no excuse for kicking the back of my seat throughout the flight. Or waiting till I doze off before you put your entire weight on my backrest, as you propel yourself out of your seat, so that you can wake me up on your way to the loo. There is a special place in hell for folks like you. And I hope you get a taste of it at the baggage belt itself, when you discover that your suitcase has been dispatched to the wrong destination.


mukta mani punj said...

A big YES to all the points! And yes, #1 is rightly so - at no.1 position. It is my pet peeve too.
Keep posting Seema. I am a big fan of your writing.

Purushottam Tripathi said...

well, all the points were to the point and especially the 2nd-last one.
"you may earn the blessings of your neighbours as well" was too hilarious.
I have still not figured out, what is the need of those loud-speakers in a POOJA. I mean, even watching TV at times becomes a hell of a job. And it just goes on, all in the name of spirituality.... :(
And the interesting part is- people who complain about it the most, are the ones who profoundly put up the speakers, whenever they have any occasion of their own ....

The following is not a comment regarding the article
And may I please suggest to change the red background of your blog page. It pains the eyes. And, I would love to have that comforting pink colour(which u have on the top of the page) as the background.
And again, its a suggestion. If the red symbolizes or suggests something, plz, go for it. Hope, u don't mind...