Shut Up !

My friend ( the lawyer) told me to shut up  and I am still a bit shaken.

It is the same guy who told me that I am an awesome mother, so when he told me to shut up, it really affected me.

A bit of history. My mother loves maidenhair fern and during a trip to Ikea, I found drinking glasses with maidenhair fern design and bought them. Yaya broke the 5th one when my friend was home and looked visibly upset. I have never scolded my children for breaking something and don’t see the need for them to be terrified of something so trivial.

I told her ” Yaya, the 6th one will be very sad without its mama and papa and brothers and sisters, so you should break it too” Obviously my comments cracked her up and she was back to her cheerful self and helped me clean up the mess. My friend told me : “you really are an awesome mother” and my head grew few sizes big.

For dinner, I decided to make Russian cabbage rolls ( another one of my son’s favourite food ). But before that, I was already annoyed with my son. His room was a mess and he didn’t rinse the plates and cups and put in the dish washer, instead he just chucked everything in the sink. He also left his shoes in the hallway and I almost tripped on it. I didn’t want to go after my son in front of my friend and lose my halo.

When dinner was served, my son saw that I made cabbage roll, he came and hugged me and said ” Mom, thank you for always making something nice for dinner, I really appreciate it”

For which, I with a halo replied ” No, you don’t, you left the dirty dishes in the sink, you left your shoes in the hallway, you room is a mess, you don’t care how much I struggle” and so it went.

Then I head these words ” shut up Sarah, you really don’t know how to take a compliment”

There was only one word to describe my feeling at the moment. ‘stunned’, No one has ever told me to ‘shut up’

And I realized what my friend said is really true. I think years of living in India where you are taught to be a fake when it comes to compliments is still ingrained in me. I remember wearing a new saree and  a friend asked “is it new” my answer was ” No, it is very old” or if someone tells me ” you look gorgeous” the answer was always “nah, you need new glasses”.

All I had to say to my son was” you are absolutely welcome” and perhaps I could have got a bit more mileage by adding  “You mean the world to me and I enjoy cooking your favourite meal”

So like Gwyneth Paltrow, I am now consciously uncoupling my Indian “fake” responses to compliments.

16 thoughts on “Shut Up !

  1. Fake is the Western ‘compliments’ and not the ‘Indian response’. Compliments in the West are hollow, expressed just for the sake of their over emphasized custom and etiquette and naturally it is reciprocated with the gesture devoid of sincerity. Fashionable Affectations as Richard Steel said.

    • Bipin: Few years ago when I still had long hair, I was going for a meeting and this guy whom I have never seen before, stopped me and told me ” marry me, you are gorgeous and I promise I will take good care of you”.. Was it a fake compliment? Not at all..for I am gorgeous 🙂

  2. aa paavam kutti santhoshamayite compliment thannapollanu ella thettu villiche parayam thoniyadhu alle..
    Saram illiya! you live and you learn!

    • MS: You should be feeling sorry for me.. I am the one who gets to eat all the left over cakes and then have to run every morning..

  3. OMG!.. I totally get what you are saying… I have the same issue especially when my husband praises something I do, cook or wear… The Malayali modesty is so ingrained in us… I do thank for any compliments from my son though, but then he takes it a little too far when he gets a reaction out of me and say something like – you are the best mom ever and I end up raising my eyebrows at him.. 😀

    • URT: I make my own Passata.. one onion, few cloves of garlic and 2 cans of tomatoes in can and good measure of fresh basil..cook it down, and add a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. The meat is 75 % beef and 25% pork ( I mince it myself). The rest you can follow the recipe and it is a great dish to serve as dinner on cold winter days..

  4. Sara, “Fake Indian Response” ???? It is a cultural thing…It is a way of responding in a modest way…. Having said that I need to say this too…You will find fake sort of behaviours everywhere in this world…west or east…nothing is an exception…

    • John: Fake Indian response is the real thing. You are culturally bound to not accept a compliment. I am afraid I do not agree to fake behaviour in the western world. When an Aussie guy tells me something..he means it.. there is nothing fake about it. However, when an Indian guy tells me something, I always look for the hidden meaning..

    • Selina: I haven’t got around to figuring out how to do that. I blog Monday to Friday Australian time about 9 AM.

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