Sunday, October 21, 2012

That Feeling of Embarassment!



Let’s see if you have heard this joke.
A very shy guy goes into a nightclub and sees a beautiful woman sitting at the bar. After an hour of gathering up his courage, he finally goes over to her and asks tentatively, "Um, would you mind if I chatted with you for a while?"
She responds by yelling, at the top of her lungs, "No, I won't sleep with you tonight!" Everyone in the bar is now staring at them. Naturally, the guy is completely embarrassed and slinks back to his table.
After a few minutes, the woman walks over to him and apologizes. She smiles and says, "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. You see, I'm a graduate student in psychology and I'm studying how people respond to embarrassing situations."
To which the guy responds loudly, “Two hundred dollars? Isn’t that too much for a night?”


Okay, so you have heard this one, but what is it that really embarrasses people? It could be a rambling spouse, an overbearing mother-in-law or an irritating sibling. For some it is a perceived flaw in their physical appearance. I know people who are embarrassed by their jobs, cars and residential addresses.
I guess a lot depends on your social circle and the insecurities brewing in the mind.


A sales representative working in LA recently revealed that she was ashamed of her Blackberry. She stopped pulling out her BlackBerry at cocktail parties and conferences, fearing that clients will see it and judge her. It’s amazing how Blackberries have slipped from their high societal perch with the arrival of other smart phones and androids.
It makes perfect sense to embrace technology for the want of utility but the mad race to acquire and flaunt the latest could be detrimental for those who are running the race. In the age of fast changing technology it’s tough to keep pace with the world. What was ‘in’ a few months ago is consigned to the dustbins of obsolescence by the onslaught of new technology.


I remember the same happened to the Fiat and Ambassador cars with the arrival of Maruti 800. When I was a teen, my dad bought his first car – a hugely curvaceous Hindustan 14 (It was said that Maharaja Holkar owned that car at some point of time).For an image conscious teen, my dad’s odd looking car was a huge embarrassment. For one, the mighty curves of Hindustan 14 made the voluptuous Ambassador look like size zero. And when most friends were zooming in their sleek Maruti’s, our royal blue vintage drew a lot of stares. I remember ducking and sitting hunched on the back seat each time dad came to pick me up from school.

Like my father, and unlike a certain coal minister, my husband too has a penchant for old stuff. I doubt if he will discard his BlackBerry soon despite the fact that it is not so ‘cool’ anymore. His logic being – It works just fine.

I too have come a long way since negotiating with those naive embarrassments. Today, brands and labels do not hold the same seductions. Yes, one does desire all that is new and stylish but the old need not be embarrassing. Being a woman and living in Gurgaon where the ‘show-off fest’ is on 24/7, it is hard to forego the appeal of all that is plush. But once you get comfortable and content in a particular zone, the list of embarrassments, if any, shrinks by the day.
At one level, there is relief in not really caring about what others think about you. There is no putting a price on that relief. However in a reality, I doubt if things work that way.


Picture Courtesy: Google Images/ psychologytoday.com

69 comments:

  1. I think possessions should be in line with the needs and not with the value of show off, Alka! I may sound passe':)

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  2. I completely agree with you when you say that the show off fest is ob 24X7! There is no end to it, really.
    Possessions that are old, have a lot of memories attached with them. I sometimes feel sad to give up any of these old things. So they keep finding a place in my life :)

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    1. A lot depends on the social circle and work place...some people who are in marketing need to make a first impression and hence their old phones could be an embarrassment.
      :)

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  3. This is just the story of an gadget-concerned individual so desperate to make a statement with his phone or car :) Good thoughts :)

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    1. Soham, perhaps some jobs demand that people keep abreast with the latest gadgets. And some people just wish to make statements with their phones and cars....well good luck to them.

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  4. Its a nice post .

    We can't follow up our technologies. When we bought something after several thinking , next week new model coming :)

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  5. I seem to be very content with my current car and phone :) This keeping up with the latest things and showing off is a vicious circle .. it never ends .. it just makes you more and more discontent !
    If I am embarrassed about something its being in the company of show offs !

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    1. Ruchira, since I am not working I am happy with my old phone. Even my mom has an advanced model...
      And I missed meeting you at the meet...next time.

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  6. I have a Sony Erricson which was bought for 1700 Rs and does not have a camera, mainly because I am not supposed to carry a camera phone to my office. I somehow do not understand this obsession about showing off your way of life. I would have gone for a basic model of a phone which would let me listen to the person on the other side.
    Our lives have changed so much that we find it disturbing if it tries to be a bit simple.

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    1. I am so glad you echo my thoughts Amit.
      You have put it so aptly....

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  7. ur dad had an Hind 14? wooo!! i was all fantasized about Hind Contessa through out my growing age :) BB - i wud agree with ur husband. it works, and it works good with the mails :D

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    1. Yep. We bought it from Jabalpur and drove it till 1984 when under huge pressure dad had to buy a new Maruti.

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    2. Aww...

      Just visited Colors and it was a pleasure. My son is a Gemini too. And he did his class 12 from Bangalore.....Do you belong to Bangalore Sawan?

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  8. Well, more than perception, I think I get really red and pink, when I get drunk and end up not remembering a thing, the next day! :P
    Great post though :)

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    1. You naughty girl...
      Just read your introspective post.

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  9. Interesting post. There are people who are very much into this "only new gadgets/dresses/jewelry/ vacation destinations" etc which can be quite stressful both on the pocket as well as for the individual. Never knew that Blackberry was out of fashion!! :D

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    1. I am glad you echo my thoughts. I was afraid of brickbats here....but it is reassuring to find several readers in tune with this post.

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  10. Alka, with a cracker of an opening like that, nothing could have weaned me off from the rest of the post! And I don't intend to say your posts are monotonous, they are all finely written pieces.

    In some ways, you remind me of my father for the love of the antique. One scintillating example is my name itself; while the rest of the class was Manoj/ Vinod/ Rakesh/ Deepak/ Sameer/ Piyush etc, I had to be Uma Shankar! It didn't help that half the boys in my classes would have fathers or grandfathers by that name!

    If the technology is acquired on its flaunt value rather than the utility, it will always happen. That said, Blackberry has really slipped down the ladder of innovation, thanks to the iPhones and the Android Phones. Not that the Blackberry handsets or services come cheap.

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    1. UmaShankar is any day better than Robert or Rahul which are more contemporary names.
      You have so rightly put it....if its for utility technology is always welcome.

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  11. I think this show off culture is more prevalent in the North. Luckily in South people are more subtle and sedate in their tastes, which suits me just fine. I have only one handbag at a time. I can't understand how women can shuffle between handbags. For me, it is too much of a pain transferring stuff from one to another. And my car is 10 year old so is my husband ;-). And, in some ways I don't even care what others may think. Most women will flash their jewellery or a new toy, and I am so dumb that I cannot even see it. Good pertinent post.

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    1. True. The 'show-off fest is more prevalent here.
      I am also happy with my old phone...even my mom has an advanced model of Samsung.

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    2. You know I recently bought a good Touchphone. It is on need basis as I really need to keep checking my emails. This works really well for me. I guess technology upgradation may be needed for gadgets.

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    3. Technology is always welcome for utility.

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    4. Rachna, I'm not stalking you but when I read this post and your comment, I just must say, we are SO alike in some ways. In fact in all of these ways you mention. I am the same with handbags, in fact mine is not even a real purse but really a hippie style bag that I have had for years and will most likely keep until it gets wrecked.:) I wear it to weddings and fancy parties...I'm classy like that.:)

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    5. hehe Colleen We are sisters separated at birth ;-). Me too, my handbag is well worn and I replace one only if it is in tatters :). Mine is a big purse too.

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  12. Show-off fest is not restricted to not just to Gurgoan. You get to see it everywhere! Some are very silly you can just laugh at them and then there are some which are insulting and hurtful. These are the ones I offend!

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    1. True. Its infectious but one has to decide to not run the rat race...

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  13. visiting here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

    Regards,
    http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

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  14. Alka,

    It is uncalled for to feel embarrassed just because one is not in possession of latest gadget or labeled wear or family members. The last may be embarrassing if they behave in some unacceptable manner. I can understand embarrassment felt by that young shy man but not the sales representative.

    Take care

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  15. Yes Alka, you are very right. I believe that now. After we enter our comfort zone, we don't care what the world thinks. Hubby wanted to buy a handicam when we had a perfectly working one. When I ask the reason, he says, nah it's big, look at other people's. It is so tiny. I retorted back saying, tomorrow it will be in the size of a matchbox? are you going to replace it? He kept quiet. The same person, carried a solid nokia phone for years together when people were beaming and buzzing with iPhones, HTCs and Androids. Every other person asks him and he says, what's wrong? I hear very clearly through it. huhh!!!

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    1. Glad you got what I was trying to say here....but there are times when peer pressure makes us feel the odd man out.

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  16. Alka, nowadays people are judging us by our material possessions. So, its become important for us to be a part of this expensive gadgets/clothes/cars syndrome. I envy people who are not affected by this.

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    1. There is huge relief in not being a part of the rat race.

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  17. LOL you reminded me of my time in college when my Dad owned a Fiat and he would come to get me or drop me off and the stupid thing would break down and I would either have to help push it or stand by when my father tinkered with it while peers would give me strange looks. Yes, certain things are embarrassing, but I think its more when we are in our adolescent years. Over time, we mature so much not to care about certain things. For the past 2 years I had a slider phone even when everyone else around me moved on to smart phones and data plans and such. But my argument, all I used it for was to make and receive calls, not even text. What do I need a smart phone for then! I would have happily continued using it if not for a friend who I had to leave it with in an emergency while leaving the US and because of that incident, I ended up buying a decent smart phone when I landed in India. But true, its about time we stop being so brand conscious, not wearing a top brand is not the end of the world, but I am sure there are many who would disagree.

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    1. While writing this post I was wondering how many will agree...even my son doesn't agree. Perhaps with maturity one realizes that it is futile to run after technology only to flaunt it. If it is for utility then its a different story altogether.

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  18. I too agree on that logic "it works just fine"
    And belive me, those who go by that logic has a lot of peace of mind :-)

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    1. True.....you have come here after a longtime. Thanks.

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  19. It is impossible to keep pace with up gradation of technology and of course marketing gimmicks.
    Every gadget must be need based

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    1. I guess age has something to do with it....I doubt if most youngsters would agree.

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  20. Worth giving a thought. I am not too tech savvy so I am happy with a phone that I can call with and can receive calls.. no hangups at least there :)

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    1. If it's for utility,it's great but only to flaunt stuff disturbs the peace of mind.

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  21. the more we try to indulge in show off biz the more we are discontent...
    In Gurgaon, undoubtedly the show off biz is 24X7 ...

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  22. Gizmos are but tools to make life easy. If we absolutely must have the best and latest even if we have one that is good enough, it must fulfil some need - perhaps a sense of belonging to the inner circle? Very few people have the courage to look too closely at that need - they might discover hidden inadequacies they don't want to see.

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  23. My parents came to leave me in an auto for my 10th boards when everybody else came in thier huge cars. I was terribly embrassed then! But to think of it now, I have the most terrible phone and am not at all gadget friendly, but doesn't make a difference to me anymore.

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    1. I totally understand those feelings....I guess we mature with age.

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  24. For me it's a relief to be staying away from a society that judges you by the size of your car and the number of bedrooms in your apartment. And the ingenious ways people resort to tell you about their latest vacation in the Andes or their 3 carat rock!

    I remember in school, how a friend sulked for months when I told her I lived in a kothi! As if it was my damn fault that she was staying in a MIG flat.

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    1. How are the people there Purba? What are topics when women meet. Are they appreciative of your writing skills or do they judge you by the car you drive?

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  25. The advertisers will ensure that the game continues!

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  26. I have resisted the onslaught of new phones and gadgets mainly because I can't be bothered with too many functions and my eyesight being what it is, I won't be able to see the letters :)

    I feel that Delhi is the capital of snobbery where everyone -- starting with your maid, judges you on the basis of what and how much you own. As you have said, it takes a bit of doing but the relief is great when you stop giving credence to the judging eyes and be comfortable being what you are. When the snobs ignore me, I can say, 'Good riddance,' without the least compunction.

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  27. So true...even salesmen judge and respond on the basis of the phone you carry and the car you drive. I deliberately flash my old phone when women display their latest IPhones. It gives me strange pleasure.

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  28. Lol..
    The joke at the start, hadn't heard it before.
    Good post. :)

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  29. Good one, agree with your husband- why change it when it works fine?:)

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  30. you buy something brand new today .. its already old technology tomorrow ..

    i had a funny experience, you can say it was racist too, a white guy actually told me If I am sure I could afford what i was looking for , just because I walked to the shop in my jogging bottoms and my gym tee shirt, I had gone to the gym and from there i went ot the shop before returning home ..

    so yeah one can be judged .. I went on a tangent there reading one of your replies he he he he

    I used my mobile for years and yearssssssssss.. thnkfully one of my lovely friends gifted me a brand new samsung s3 :) I can be a miser I would not have spent my money on it he he he he

    Bikram's

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    1. It has happened to me often...Even the vegetable and fruit vendors jack up the price when people alight from big cars and dress a certain way.
      :)
      Once we ventured in a BMW showroom just to admire the cars. The salesman came up to me but ignored as soon as he saw my phone.

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  31. Good one, Alka! I am also sometimes embarrassed by my modest possessions in front of people who are less privileged....

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  32. hee hee hee gurgaon = show-fest. agree completely :)

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  33. I am not embarrassed of materialistic thing but when someone spots dust or my lack of knowledge than I am. BTW, the joke in the beginning was new to me. So, I am embarrassed of my GK now. :P

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