Sunday, February 26, 2012

Village Idiots

We have a saying in the US that I only half way understood before coming to India. There are several sayings surrounding this "village idiot" concept including 'somewhere there's a village missing an idiot' and the saying in the image below. All of them are meant as an insult when someone does something stupid that they never should have done or really messed up some simple task that even a baby could do without any trouble.

But we don't have villages in the US anymore. At least not villages like those here in India anyway. We have some towns or housing areas with "village" in the name but they are not true villages nor do they resemble what comes to mind when people use the word "village." When I hear village I think about some impoverished area where there are no true houses, maybe only straw huts or shanties, etc and even the land is all dirt and there's barely any grass or foliage around. No one is educated or even could be considered smart. Obviously a place like this is fictitious but I want you to get the image so you understand what I'm talking about.

So while I understood the idiom I didn't truly grasp how deep the insult was until moving here to India. I frequently hear comments about people being "from the villages" or being "village people" and it's always meant in a negative way. It brings back the same thoughts of what a village is that I had in the previous paragraph only in parts of India the straw huts are actually there. They aren't really homes most of the time but you get the picture. Now on to the point of my post.

While I was spending all that time laying in the clinic it startled me how many people in this city have trouble with the basic task of opening and closing doors. It wasn't just the clinic I noticed this and I know that the concept of closed doors is a rarity here in this country but I do know for a fact that doors are closed sometimes and even locked. Quite a few people and most homes I see have double doors or double gates on the front of the property. Many of the doors on peoples homes have one door that must be closed first for them to close properly and some have a angled cut to make them close more tightly.

On public buildings most double doors are normal doors, there just happens to be two of them side by side. So it really baffles me why anyone older than 2 would have difficulty using them but I saw at least 15 different people have trouble with the door on the exam room and most of them had the same trouble multiple times. For example, there was an exam bed near the door. So several people opened one door, slammed it into the exam table then pulled it back closed most of the way and squeezed through the small opening never once opening the other door - which was not locked or even closed all the way, nor blocked by anything.

Several others couldn't manage to close the doors. There was no special way to close it, you simply had to pull it towards you and that was it. I only saw one nurse use the second side of the door and one maid. The maid opened both doors fully without slamming the bed behind the one side and left them open and some womans husband came along and closed them and then proceeded to open only the side blocked by the bed and try to squeeze in through a narrow opening! Sadly, he was also in military uniform.

This reminds me of other times I've seen people have difficulty closing doors in their own home. Doors they've used probably thousands of times and they couldn't figure out how to close them right. This term village idiot just got stuck in my mind watching these door closing shenanigans. How the hell could a full grown adult not understand how to use a door? Much less so many full grown adults having trouble with doors? I think all the missing village idiots were having a convention in that clinic and no one told me (lest I would have stayed away because it's not somewhere I belong).

Maybe I'm wrong and it's something I'm taking for granted but it's rare to see someone have trouble with opening and closing doors in the US. Besides figuring out which way the handles work on different styles of doors (like french doors which don't have conventional door handles and could work more than one way) I've never seen anyone having trouble with the normal opening and closing of doors. I even had a cat that knew how to open doors (though she never closed them behind herself).

What about you? Do you see people having trouble with opening and closing doors of any type?


  1. I can't remember ever seeing someone have problems opening or closing a door. lol.  Sounds amusing.

  2. I haven't noticed people having issue with doors, but I noticed an incredible lack of common sense in India and not just in uneducated people, highly educated people seem to miss it too, a friend of mine who studied both in India and UK said that she got to understand how lousy the school system in India is in the sense that people are not encourage to think, be it inside or outside the box, students cram hard to memorize fact and spill them out at the time of the exam without much thinking as of why they have to do so, or even truely comprehending the topic, while in UK she was at first taken off balance because the teachers where more keen to know how a student solved the problem or came to a conclusion that what the finished result was. She is Indian by the way. 

  3. hehehe...  the door issue made me think of my favorite Far Side cartoon: which brings me to add, have you noticed how many doors are labeled 'push' and 'pull' in US??? 

    And as for the 'village people' (and I'm not talking about the disco group LOL) my husband was always complaining how B'lore had gone downhill in the last 10 years since all the 'village people' moved in.  And in US he would not interact with other overseas Indian students on campus because he said they were all 'villagers'.  Totally didn't get it back then because, like you say, we don't have actual villages!!

  4. It is sometimes amusing and sometimes extremely annoying. But now I understand why even some of the cheapest restaurants in the area have door men.

  5. I've noticed that too. The kids in the house are both fairly smart but when it comes to simple concepts they don't understand. Try making a silly joke and then you have to explain it and it's not funny anymore.

  6. Yeah I never got the village thing from Rohit either but now I'm starting to figure it out. It's quite different when they refer to village people here in India that when we do it, that's for sure lol. Here it seems to have more of an implication of behavior rather than intelligence, or possibly the same implications a big city dweller would place on "small town mentality" in the US. Which I guess now that I think about leads back to perceived intelligence. What a mess! lol

  7. Hi Kristy, I have also noticed that people don't open or close doors properly here. Privacy & security is never important. There is no way I would leave my door open or unlocked in Australia. We have security doors that we look through before opening and we don't open the door to just anyone, we like our privacy and security at all times.

    I have also noticed the same thing as cyn, there is no common sense or order, people quite often study theory here but don't know how to do the practical side of skills. I don't quite get that! My teenage sons can cook, clean, wash & iron and have done so for years. They are very mature compared to kids here and require far more mental & physical achievements.

    Even girls in Australia are far more advanced, they are well educated, can cook & clean, drive themselves around and make mature decisions for themselves and good self esteem along with day to day common sense.

  8. I think I can imagine this.

    Is the door in question a fancy smanshe full glass type of door or something similar?

    No one wants to risk breaking something that looks expensive.

  9. It's called "rataa baazi"; memorizing lines just before the exam. Technically, what they've learned is temporary. By the time they move to college, they won't remember anything.

    I myself went through school memorizing lines. Back then, I had no interest in history or social science, partly because of unqualified teachers who never created any subject interest in their students and partly because I was not mature enough to find it interesting to learn. Today, to say that I'm interested in WW2(history, politics and economy) and semantics(epistemology) is an understatement.

  10. In the US we are taught not to open our door to strangers. Here the door is rarely closed. Well, the house door, not my door because I lock my door all the time.

  11. No, these were basic doors, two together with a plastic, semi-translucent top section, large door handles (as big as your hand with your fingers spread wide) and they didn't lock together or anything. That was why I found it so odd! But those aren't the only doors I've seen people have trouble with. Most of the houses here in this area have metal doors that overlap. But, the same people that have those metal doors, can't seem to close wooden doors that overlap in the same manner without some kind of difficulty.