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Coping with all that unsolicited advice

I am rather tired of all the unsolicited advice that has been coming my way. Perhaps it’s because I talk less and am a good listener, or maybe I look like I need help. Whatever the reason, there is just no escape.

It all begins rather harmlessly with well-meaning smiles, till all notions of propriety are forgotten. Advice is dished out so blatantly and with such conviction that I am left speechless. In fact, my day begins with healthy dollops of advice. I wake up in the morning and go for a run every day. I have this set of well-meaning compatriots who nod and smile and lecture me on the best postures to maintain and the healthiest gait I can adopt.

The advice then veers to the next pet favourite topic among women: ‘weight-loss’. No discussion is complete without touching upon such ‘weighty’ factors. Whenever I meet someone I am not too familiar with but am hard-pressed to make a conversation, I go with the universal favourite of ‘weight’.

I am particularly peeved by those all-knowing human encyclopaedias who consider themselves experts in child-rearing. Now, child-rearing is serious business and there is no one-size-fits-all concept.

My own needs as a working mother are extremely different from the needs of a stay-at-home mum. My children and their time-table, thoughts and habits, are in tandem with my schedule. I have had these naysayers talk to me about how I will one day regret I neglected my children in their growing-up years. So, before it was too late, I was advised in all earnestness that it would be in the best interest of all that I leave my job and concentrate on the business of bringing up my ‘super-stars’. These so-called do-gooders had no clue about my job, children, financial status, family, or the joy and satisfaction I derived from my job.

You name the subject and you will have every expert on the planet right there in your immediate vicinity. No topic is taboo and no subject is spared. Given that I live in Hyderabad, in close proximity to ‘rival’ Chennai, another hot topic of discussion is Hyderabad versus Chennai. I have had several people telling me about the disadvantages of living in Chennai as a ‘North Indian’, and I always let them complete their harangue till I let drop the unthinkable bombshell that I actually lived there for a full seven years and loved every bit of it. Then in all innocence I ask them where they had lived in Chennai and they exclaim that they have never been to Chennai! Then how come the strong version of Chennai being such an inhospitable place, I ask in wonder. “Well, we heard from my friend’s friend,” they would smile sheepishly. And then the rant goes to another story about all the ills that lurk around the hot and hotter Chennai.

There are instances when I have wilfully sought advice. I usually rely on a few trusted sources. I have discovered that apart from the Internet, social media is an excellent platform to ask for opinion and weigh one’s options before reaching a decision. One can mention one’s circumstances, doubts and fears and get an honest opinion from people who have been there, done that in similar or more trying situations.

It is easier to separate the grain from the chaff if there is a limited overload of information that is in keeping with the context. I only wish there was free made-to-custom advice providers rather than these one-style-fits-all pajamas style know-it-all intellectuals sprinkling their wisdom on all and sundry.

dhorisaha@gmail.com


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Printable version | Oct 10, 2021 7:07:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/coping-with-all-that-unsolicited-advice/article25273740.ece

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