Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Wish You Would Not Ask...

Are you one of those who will not ask, fearing you might be turned down?  And also one who is uncomfortable with those who ask without any reservations, and put you in a spot, since you find it so difficult to say NO?

I can identify with that kind.

This huge debate is on – spurred by a web posting by Andrea Donderi and subsequently an article by Burkeman that appeared in The Guardian – which I shall quote from liberally.

Whether you Ask or Guess, they say depends a lot on your upbringing. In some families, you grow up with the expectation that it's OK to ask for anything at all, but you got to realize you might get no for an answer. This is the Ask Culture. People who ask for just about anything. For a favour, for a raise. They believe they can ask for something, even if the answer may be No. But they will try anyway.

The Guess Culture on the other hand– are people, who will only request ( not ask) if they think the answer is yes. They will debate within themselves and send out feelers till they are sure, and in most cases may receive an offer even before they can pose the question.

Both seem right in their own way. But the problem is when an Asker meets a Guesser. An Asker might ask to borrow your favourite book; invite himself home to stay. And as a Guesser, you would think he is rude to ask and be put to a lot of agony by giving in, or through more pain having to refuse.

Among nationalities, the Japanese are said to belong to the Guess Culture. While the Russians are classified as Askers and sometimes thought to be rude persons to deal with. 

I think (GUESS?) it is good to have a healthy mix of both. I personally feel I am more of a Guess person, but there are times I will not hesitate to Ask, but that is only with people I am comfortable with and may take a little advantage of.  And having to say NO is tough.  But I am learning.... .  And sometimes the agony of having said No, can really weigh you down.  At times, I secretly admire the nerve of those who ask unabashedly.  I could never do it most times. Is it a virtue?  I don't know.

There are others like Jonathan Chait who think it is perfectly right to Ask, and that Guessing culture is a recipe for frustration.  He writes: Guessers, who are usually trying to be nice and are holding themselves to a higher level of politeness, ruin things for the rest of us.  I feel that this is being pretty harsh on Guessers

What do you classify as? An Asker or a Guesser?

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Heat does strange things to men...

I realise the impact of the printed word. We were getting along fine, braving the summer heat, till now .

But two days ago we woke up to read ‘Hottest day at 44.5C’ in large, bold font in all the newspapers. The TV channels took it from there. With added visual effects, shots of dry lake beds, blazing sun et al. Suddenly the heat became unbearable. People had dour expressions.

The smiles vanished.

Fans, coolers, ACs were kept running at maximum speed and lowest temperatures. Apparently, these machines are not ‘India ready’ as some claim to be. The Electricity Department immediately took note of the increased power consumption and enforced longer hours of power cut.

I see fellow humans complaining of the heat, not stirring out of air conditioned rooms, guzzling unhealthy drinks to quench thirst. But then it does baffle me, when at mealtime, they forget their woes and find themselves seated in front of a plate of hot steaming rice over which is poured a spoon of ghee and a decent ( or should I say indecent ) serving of fresh avakayya – the famous Andhra mango pickle – made with the spiciest of Guntur red chillies. They eat with relish.

Beads of perspiration line the forehead. It is only then he smiles,

Strange are the ways of men.
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