Tuesday, January 30, 2007

General Peril

The world loves to generalise ! I guess, it stems from a deep rooted desire to be judgemental and pass a conclusive verdict. The 'Americans' poke fun at the 'British ' for being poker faced , the 'British ' in turn pass comments about the 'French' being frivolous and the 'Americans' being callous, and the 'Indians' pass comments about anything and everything! :D While all this is at a wider scale, much closer to home, I have myself experienced several cases of generalization. People are no longer individuals. Once a couple of guys/ gals do something, and , to their bad luck, if they are all from the same region/ race; the credit / discredit is given to their entire gender/ region/ race!! :)

Most prominent are the "North Indian - South Indian" kind of comments. Here, people speak of South Indians as though they are a different race or to put it better, as though they are a different species. You have Punjabis, Bengalis, Gujjus, Delhi-ites [lucky people - just being from a city gets them recognition! :D] and you have "South Indians" - all the 5 states merged into a single body!! Here south Indians are spoken of being conservative and unattractive -dull [As an aisde, Aishwarya, Shilpa Shetty, Rani Jeyraj, Nikhil Chinnappa are all 'South Indians' - how dull and boring, right!! :D] . Early last year, when I came here, I fought tremendous number of battles, crusading for an identity other than "South Indian" and have yelled at sevral of my friends for generalising. Now, I am much more patient with the idiots who dont know the difference between a Gult , a Tam and a Kannadiga! There's one case that I remember quite well. My firend's sister, who had the unfortunate privelege of having three conservative "south Indian" girls as her room mates for a couple of weeks, was pouring out her woes to me [being completely unaware that I was a South Indian] . She went on about all south -Indian girls "putting lots of oil in their hair, talking in their own language, cooking weird dishes and above all, all of them having lice in their hair!! " After she finished, she asked me where I was from, and I had the malicious pleasure of telling her that I was a South Indian! :D

Several people talk to me at length, and then, upon knowing I am from Bangalore, they are surprised and ask me " Are you South Indian?? You surely dont look to be one!!" I still havent figured out whether I should take it as a compliment or I should be upset that I dont have features of my ethnicity !! :D

Down in Bangalore, "Northies" as they are called, are a different race . [Though not to the extent that "South Indians" are here!]. "Northies and Biharis", as they are usually refered to, are supposed to be people of lax morals, people who come down south to study as they aren't bright enough to get a seat in their own regional colleges, and people who just chill out, have fun, and xerox these people's notes as the exams draw close! :D

Thankfully, I have never felt the temptation to indulge in the "Northie-Southie" generalisation, and prefer to take people as they are - at an individual level. But Gender based generalisation - that's an other issue!! I must confess, I have spent several hours talking at length with my friends about "Guys" as a species and analysing the species' behaviour ! :D Come on, yaar, the crux of "Men are from mars, Women are from Venus" lies in this kind of generalisation! :D But still, I try and refrain from making comments like " All you guys are the same, see a female and ... " , guess it's mainly because I really get pissed off when my guy friends say stuff like "Girls always want stuffed dolls, and chocolates and mushy music" and stuff like that!! That kind of a stereotypic image of a female has been created by the media! I , for one, have outgrown all kinds of stuffed dolls, and listen to as much rock as romantic music! More than that, I have guy friends who love choclates as much as I do and infact, have a bigger love song collection than mine!!

Infact, Nature herself opposes generalisation. Dear old Boyle studies gases and proposed his infamous law and was greatly applauded only to realise later that gases obey the law only under select conditions. The gases that obeyed the law were called Ideal and those that dint were Real! [AS an aside, it is interesting to think as to how many of us are 'Real' and how many are 'Ideal' ! :)] . Proteins were thought to fold so that hydrophobic regions went in and hydrophilic ones came out. It seemed very accurate till they discovered proteins - cytosolic ones- with exposed hydrophobic residues. Infact all proposed Laws have "exceptions"! I guess, whenever Man tries to generalise and make Laws , Nature rebels and shows him exceptions to his law! May be it's Her style of fighting Generalisation and proving that each of Her creations is unique!!

Winding up here and singing off, before some one generalises and says "All her posts are damn lengthy " :D Tchao !


wander1ust said...

"Nature herself opposes generalisation"

Well, that's not quite true. What do you have to say for day n night, the periodic seasons etc.? I guess generalizations are just a simplified way of describing things - we humans inherently love simplicity! And simplifications are not always true, but that's no reason to discard them completely.

And, you ARE mushy :P

Bastet said...

"We humans inherently love simplicity" -
I dont agree with that. Dont we all love challenges? A problem that is simple is too trivial! Complex plots, twists in stories, complicated gadgets - are all adored! And, again, seasons do exist, but right now, it is supposed to be "winter" and I can assure you that mumbai is anything but cold! The generalised comments about seasons aren't all that true. Nature hasn't generalised, it is we who generalise and demarcate seasons!

& , I m NOT mushy :P :D

wander1ust said...

Yeah, we like to say that a day has 1 to 5 int(2x dx) hours ... lol! And its anything but cold in Mumbai 'coz thats the way Mumbai is supposed to be. For further reasons, you can always contact Al Gore :D

wander1ust said...

Btw, the point here is about loving simplistic description of complex behaviour and not about not loving complexity.

Bastet said...

lol ! :D but still, long time ago, day and night used to be signified by sunrise and sunset. Then came the era of calculations, and we tried to define a day as being 24 hrs long, still you had those pesky few minutes remaining [the exception to the rule! ] for which you had to include an additional day every years!

Bastet said...

And, dont you simplify and make assumptions during any derivation, and at the end of the derivation add lines saying " this holds good only in so and so cases, but in real systems, the condition might be different and this equation cannot be applied in all cases! "