Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hero the Zero


‘Veliyiley Puli – Veettiley Eli’ – A tiger outside but a mouse at home. It is a famous Tamil proverb which is so true of many people I have known in life.

I was reminded about this proverb when Prabha & I were shopping along with a celebrity and his wife during our recent trip to Kathmandu. The gentleman was keen to buy a few items and started collecting them in his shopping basket. The moment the wife saw his basket, she literally pounced on him and reprimanded him for wasting money buying all unnecessary items.(though her own shopping bag was full of knick nacks she had picked up from the shop) She literally forced him to return most of the items, except one, to the shelves.

She would also not trust her husband’s computer(!) brain to calculate the amount to be paid, insisting that she will get the correct amount only from the shopkeeper which ofcourse was the same amount mentioned by the celebrity. Looking at us the celebrity just grinned sheepishly.

Very early in my advertising career I had a retired bureaucrat as my client. He was considered a terror to deal with by everyone! A great stickler for time, be brooked no nonsense from anybody nor could he tolerate inefficiency! Dealing with him was a nightmare. Somehow, I got on to his good books and he would invite me and my boss to his house for drinks once a year, as a thanks giving gesture. He would be very clear that the invitation was between 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm., time only for two drinks! During that one hour there will be ample demonstration of who the boss was in the house. The endearing way in which he would address his wife and gently request her for things from the kitchen. One big stare from her, he would realize that what he asked for was not available and so quickly change the request. Another big stare from her at 7.30 pm, he would get up and shake hands with us indicating that it was time for us to leave, whether we had finished our drinks or not! In front of his wife, he clearly looked helpless and powerless! Next morning at the office, however, he was terror personified once again.

Many famous heroes, political leaders, doyens in business whom the whole world reveres and respects have to forget their celebrity status once they enter their homes. Why look at outside for examples, many ordinary people like you and me do go through such experiences! The wives constantly nagging their husbands for their inadequacies and inefficiencies, is a common refrain!

“What a mess you make in the house? Can’t you keep the things in their right places?”

“Don’t sit there cross-legged and order me around! Go get what you want yourself”.

“You have no dress sense! What colour combination is this?”

“I only asked you to buy ‘x’ item. Why did you buy all these other items? Where is the place to store them in the refrigerator which is already bursting at the seams. Do you realize that it is me who maintains the home!”

The endless complaints and nagging that a man has to suffer at home, irrespective of his celebrity status outside, are sure to deflate his ego and make him realise that he may be a great hero to the outside world, but at home he is a zero!

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