It’s presumptuous how some people mete out unwanted advice. Has me shaking my head in disbelief most times. Apart from the thought that makes me wonder why they think they must do so, is another more alarming one: Do I have ‘imbecile’ written in neon all over my countenance??.. Hmmm… I mean why else would people take time out to point out obvious things to you?? This goes for some of my online buddies too who know me only through my blogs. The advice I get sometimes makes me wonder if my writings send out some invisible message that the author is a duffer of the first order who needs advice and help. My reactions to these well-meant (I assure you that is not my way of describing it) advice ranges between smiling noncommittally (most times) to smiling noncommittally (while going ‘oh gawd not again!’ to myself) to smiling noncommittally (while hopping mad to myself) to trying to smile noncommittally (but failing and hence gnashing teeth visibly with steam coming out of ears aplenty). The last one is when those poor souls who dole out these free advice wish they hadn’t done so, even while they run for cover.
I have this strange anathema to be given unnecessary advice, but then I seem to attract them like iron filings to magnet! Has me nonplussed. This is where I resign myself to the fact that maybe just maybe I have a ‘duffer gene’ embedded somewhere in me giving out invisible signals and attracting unwarranted counsel. I am all for suggestions, sensible ones of course, ‘sensible’ being the operative word here. I have the utmost respect for intelligence. In fact I welcome rational, balanced, coherent suggestions with open arms. It gives one a broader perspective of things most times. But being told what to do as if I have no mind of my own to think for myself or the assumption that I am an ignoramus by birth makes me see red. Boy, do I hate it or what!
Yeah all of us have our pet peeves and one of mine (oh there are aplenty where this one has come from, I assure you!!) is being told what I should do. Does that make me sound like I don’t like authority, rules or obedience?? If you think so you couldn’t be wider off the mark. I respect authority. You will also find that I am a stickler for rules and I obey (never blindly) in situations where obedience is demanded, either in the course of duty or for love. But I abhor senseless advice or ordering around plus also the presumption that my upper storey is devoid of grey matter.
Now once it so happened that a friend of mine informed me that it was a mutual friend’s birthday. If the matter had been left at that, it would have been well and good. But would he? Oh no Siree! He goes one step ahead and tells me what I should do. ‘It would be nice if you would go and wish her.’ What was that again buddy?? I have still not got over the pain in my neck having shaken my head in disbelief at the typed words I had seen appear before my eyes that day. Good God! Even someone dropped on his/her head while a baby (as Wodehouse would say), would know what one has to do when one comes to know it is someone’s birthday. and here was a friend telling me what I should do when a birthday comes up!! Unbelievable!!
I do get lots of direct advice on how my blogs should be written apart from the indirect ones with caustic undertones thrown around by ‘friends’!! I remember a new friend once asked me very politely, if he could make a suggestion. I very cheerfully told him that yes of course he could, but that he should be warned that I follow my own instincts. It is another matter that we are very good friends now and I pay, with utmost respect, attention to whatever suggestions he makes. In fact I go to him for advice as well. It is as much because of our special friendship as to the value I attribute to his words and the way he phrases them. Phrasing is important. Don’t treat the one you are advising as if he/she is a moron. Nothing as putting off, as that!!
Of course being a woman is an occupational hazard where receiving advice is concerned. The male of the population just assume that you ‘need’ to be advised, and do so in the most patronizing manner after all can a woman know more than him?? So I have to smile and listen sweetly while he grandly explains how you can change the names of songs in the play-list in Windows Media Player while you inwardly gnash your teeth. Can’t have fragile egos bruised by telling them Windows Media Player is putty in your hands and so is Winamp for that matter!! And how about wiping off that condescending smirk from the face while you are at it??
I have time and again re-iterated that I write/blog coz this is a platform I have found to voice my point of view. Read that once again please: ‘my point of view’ is what I have written. My views. Period. It has been pointed to me that when I write of anything I should write about both sides. Oh yeah?? Says who?? I am told that ‘there are two sides to the coin.’ Of course buddy! I have never seen a one-sided coin as yet!! What seems to escape my advisers is that I have made no claims to being a columnist, social reformer, counselor, guide, mentor, social worker or…. oh ok, whatever. I just simply write (and some of you read and comment) of my family, the things that have happened and are happening in our lives, something that has touched me as also my opinion or view on some things that may have caught my attention and on which I’d like to say a few (Oh okay agreed, ‘abundant’!!) words. That’s it, plain and simple. If anyone finds some guidance or answers to any of their problems in my page, I am gratified. Baat khatam. I think this is also my way of saying that I am always going to be myself whatever anyone says.
About two years back, I had been to Chennai along with my mother to attend the wedding of a niece. Just as I was about to go for my bath, one among my numerous cousins landed and I stayed back for some time talking to her. Mother interrupted me, asking me to go and have my bath and get ready. Ahhh! I know it’s nothing new or out of the ordinary for any of you folks who feel a mother has the right to tell you what to do at any and all times. Don’t even try telling me that unless you want to have murder on your hands!! I might just die of apoplexy. Perhaps she had forgotten for a minute that it was to me she was speaking. I turned to her and asked, “Oh yeah??” It goes without saying of course that I stood there talking to my cousin as long as I wanted to before finally pushing off to have my bath and get ready. ‘Meanie’ me?? Yeah I am that alright!! But I just hate being told what to do. Sigh!!
Edited and reposted from an earlier post at Yahoo 360/multiply.com