We are an interesting people; to say the least. One of our quaint traits is our being bound by ‘Free’dom. We ‘want’ free ration of food material, free education, free travel, free clothes, free houses, free income (devoid of any taxes), free products, free Wi-Fi and ‘free’dom to ease ourselves – verbally and physically too – anytime and anywhere. After all, ours is a ‘free’ country. We want to speak ‘freely’ and puke ‘freely. We want to pee ‘freely’ and we want to pooh ‘freely’
Nobody seems to understand this penchant for ‘free’dom of ours any better, than the politicians and the marketers.
During elections, you are given ‘free’ food, ‘free’ liquor, ‘free’ clothes and sometimes ‘free’ money too, albeit by taking away the ‘free’dom to vote for a candidate of your choice! After elections, you are bestowed with white goods like ‘free’ televisions, ‘free’ electric fans, ‘free’ bicycles / tricycles, ‘free’ food processors and so on.
The marketers give you ‘free’ of this or ‘free’ of that every day in and day out. If you buy toothpaste you either get 20% extra paste or a tooth brush – ‘free’. If you buy three soaps, you get an extra soap – ‘free’. And, if you buy just one soap, you get a pen – ‘free’ which quite often is ‘free’ from writing. You buy a dish washing powder you get a scrubber – ‘free’.
I always wondered why we do not get a ‘free’ and extra spouse, when we get married. Very often with the marriage ‘vows’ we only get the ‘free woes’ - of our in-laws.
So, while we allow ourselves to be ‘freely’ taken away in the flow towards a ‘free’ market, we seldom like to give anything free to anybody. Well, anything except advice, that all of us are quite ‘free’ to give it for ‘free’, whether sought for or not.
Maybe, because of my upbringing where, despite a fierce temper, my father allowed quite a good amount of freedom (at least to me), I abhor anybody trying to give me any unsolicited advice.
There is a wonderful adage in Tamil saying ‘Yaam pettra inbam peruga ivvayagam’ which, ‘free’ly, translated into English is ‘May the whole world get the same pleasure that I got’.
All the free advisers seem to be following this adage – knowingly or unknowingly. If they do it knowingly, then only those who know Tamil should be doling advices by the dozen. But we see, anybody and everybody, even not knowing of this adage, pitchforking advices, by a heap, from any corner of our country.
Very often these advices are evangelical. The advices are pumped in, followed up on and become repetitively rhetoric, thus literally changing the adage to ‘Yaam pettra tunbam peruga ivvayagam’ which, again ‘free’ly translated into English is ‘May the whole world get the same pain that I got’.
There is an accident on the road. While a few would be attending to the injured or the dead, depending on the intensity of the accident, there would be half a dozen of people going around giving out advices based on their ‘free’ reminiscences of earlier such occasions, coming into the way of relief work. If there is a theft somewhere, out are many advices and a few admonishments.
Most popular advices come for curing Diabetes and Jaundice. You meet an acquaintance after a gap of some years. During this time, you would have changed physically - positively or negatively - but certainly horizontally. If you have put on weight, out comes the ‘free’ advice on the ill effects of obesity and any number of methods to control it. If you are thin and haggard, you will immediately be advised to consult a physician. Don’t be surprised, if you are advised to check whether you are suffering from HIV positive or Avian flu or Swine flu etc.
It is ‘freely’ believed, by the common folk, that except Liv-52 there does not appear to be any other effective medicine for treating / containing Jaundice. Once you share the information that either you are suspected to be suffering or actually suffering from Jaundice, the amount of treatments that are advised would put any pharmacist or a scientist in the world to shame and also out of business. Half of the herbals suggested in these ‘free’ advices would not be known to many; under the sun.
While talking about ‘free’ advice regarding physical ailments, there is another dimension to it. In any gathering or a meeting or while travelling, if a physician as much announces that he is a physician, several of the surrounding people ‘free’ly converse with him proclaiming all their ailments and seeking, naturally, ‘free’ advice of treatment. Quite often, it is the same case with Lawyers too.
Another area of ‘free’ advising is matrimony related. Despite knowing that those who want to get married will in anyway do that, despite or in spite of the ‘free’ advices, advices pour in with hurricane speed. No wonder, several matrimony decisions taken under such confusion result in disastrous effects.
Now with the new playground called ‘Facebook’ there is no limit for these ‘free’ advices and postulations that are played er, shared on it. It can range from teaching er, sharing morals to virtues to religious discourses. I know at least a couple of fellows who keep on posting this nonsense day in and day out while they themselves are culprits of much mischief in their lives. And so they qualify as excellent preachers because they simply never practiced the virtues that they so ‘freely’ propagate, without an amount of remorse.
Maybe the advices are always given with some good intention. But, in my humble opinion, any time a free advice is given, a lesson is sought to be taught or any evangelical effort is made out, however good natured the effort may be made out to be, such an effort smacks of a clear one up-manship or plainly arrogance, where the adviser appears to be under-estimating the capabilities and thinking process and prowess of the receiver to be much inferior. Who or what gives them this authority?
There is a saying in Telugu; ‘Cheppe vaadiki vine vaadu lokuva’ which ‘freely’ means ‘those who receive are inferior to those who give/talk’. What the heck!?
I had, to a large extent, allowed my children to grow as they wished to be (I ‘free’ly give them the choice of differing on this, though). As a result, apart from me, even my children are showing signs of impatience towards and more often, started disliking these ‘free’ advices, I guess. We are of the firm opinion that we have a right to live our lives the way we want to and to experiment with, face the consequences if need be, as much as and as long as it is not a trouble for the others.
Like one man’s food can be another man’s poison, one advice for a particular problem may not be appropriately suitable for another problem, however seemingly similar the other problem may appear to be.
These ‘free’ advices could be from neighbours, from colleagues, from passersby, from relatives or co passengers and so on. You can fill any vocation that comes into your mind ‘free’ly and lo, there is a ‘free’ advice coming up!
As a professional adviser and also as a teacher, the only ‘free’ advice I can give, to all the ‘free’ advisers, is to stop giving advises and start living their own lives and also allow others to live their lives, as they are destined to or at least as they desire to. Don’t disturb and don’t be disturbed!
In fact, as a professional adviser, charging a fee for my advices, I am certainly worried about all these ‘free’ advices, floating ‘free’ly around, posing a threat of eroding into my income earning potential. J
So, to safeguard myself and people who think like me, there is a great need in our country to ‘tell the free advisers’ that anything given ‘free’ has no value, and the sooner the ‘free advisers’ realise that, the better that would be!
What do you think? You can tell me ‘freely’!
Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai) and Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish)
Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy