A clash of cultures


Being on opposite sides of the work-flex debate probably only fueled our already obvious differences.

The head of editorial and production at a large publishing and printing-house began the exchange badly by asking whether I thought I was the only parent in all of Delhi who had a child at home.

And worse, actually said, with all sincerity, that a three-year old child did not deserve to be called little anymore.

The immediate cause of her ire was that I, despite being shortlisted for what she certainly thought was a hot job at her organisation as head of copy, had the gall to enquire if I could do half days simply because I did not want to be at the other end of this large, sprawling city for more than a couple of hours.

Now, a few hours after the rather unpleasant and unbecoming exchange, I can actually feel compassion for her. And I don’t at all mean it sarcastically. (Well, okay, a tiny bit…: )

I mean this is what all of us are drilled with day in and day out.

The cost of living is rising, a good education costs a lot, the older you get, especially as a woman, and even worse, as a mother, the less desirable you are to the work force, children need to get used to the harsh realities of the world and not be molly coddled, they can thrive equally well in the hands of an ayah and so on and so forth.

I can’t dare say the first few concerns don’t affect me but I am quite sure that suitable work, preferably not too far from home and preferably not full-day, will eventually work out.

Simply because things do have a way of working out.

Or so I believe so far.

And until then I can bask in the glory of being told by our favourite cab company’s head on the same day as this godforsaken job interview that he was very touched when I corrected the little three-year old when she called him (as a lot of people unfortunately in this culture and this city do), ‘driver’ — as though he were a job, not a person.

He said it had meant the world to him that there was at least one young child who was being taught to not mindlessly replicate the predominant abhorrent etiquette of addressing those considered beneath their class or station, by their occupation, rather than their names.

Hurrah!

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