February 9, 2009 4:32:44 pm
“Where do you live?” is a common query after an introduction. Sometimes it is a simply a way of figuring out a person’s social standing. Stereotypes spring to mind depending on your address.
The other day my daughter returned from the next-door beauty parlour chuckling about a conversation she had overheard. A pretty young thing getting her hair oil massaged,met a family friend,whose toe nails were being painted. The girl informed the aunty excitedly that she had just got engaged. The aunty inquired politely about the girl’s fiancé,where he worked,was he good looking etc. To each response,even when she displayed her sparkling diamond ring,the aunty’s remark was a perfunctory “Very nice bache”. Her blasé attitude altered,when she inquired where the boy lived and the girl replied,’Friends Colony’. Suddenly the aunty blossomed and almost fell out of her chair. “Well done bache,well done. That’s really marvellous news,” she beamed and became very animated.
My daughter felt the moral of the story was that for the aunty,and many others like her,the thing that matters most about a prospective groom is where he lives. A house is a stable,tangible asset,while jobs may come and go,looks may fade and love could wither away. This attitude is not so unusual in our society. My Gujarati friend informs me that matrimonial ads in her community in Mumbai specify in which localities the prospective groom should be located. A South Mumbai girl,for example,is not going to marry a boy from Ghatkopar,even if he has a fancy job and looks like an Adonis. Similarly a Delhi girl from Greater Kailash will think thrice before agreeing to date a boy from Kirti Nagar.
In status-conscious Delhi,derogatory phrases like an ‘LMC’ (lower middle class) colony,a ‘Carrol Gardens (Karol Bagh) type’ or a ‘Lajpat Nagar dress style’ are crudely bandied about. For Delhi’s snob set,a mansion in Naraina is apparently less desirable than a barsati in Jor Bagh.
All those auntyji snobs and others who assume that you can figure out the background of people from their addresses should change their mentality. Our metros have spread in different directions,have undergone major upheavals and mixed zoning is now common. Consumerism and high fashion is all pervasive and it is no longer possible to categorise people on the basis of where they live. For instance,if a person says he lives in NOIDA or Gurgaon it is impossible to judge his background. Residences in these satellite towns come in all sizes and social strata. In my childhood in Bombay,the name Parel conjured up chawls and factory workers from the textile mills,but today it has some of the fanciest apartments and offices. The malls in Delhi selling high fashion labels have sprung up in the most unlikely places,depending on where land was available. Hopefully,some day soon,the practice of posing the nosey question “Where do you live”,will be discontinued.
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