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Random Thoughts

Nosiness and Culture


Are Indian people nosier than people from other cultures? I was pondering this question today as a friend of my mother’s asked a number of questions about me over the phone. What was I doing? How long would it take? And so on and so forth. It is worth pointing out that I have never met this friend of my mother’s.

This friend is hardly unusual amongst the Indian people in the UK. Complete strangers will ask me why I am not married, as though my personal life were any of their business. It is almost one of the first things they will ask me.

Obviously, this nosiness is unusual from a Western perspective. People in the West refrain from asking personal questions until they have gotten to know a person. They almost never ask if someone is single or not, as they regard this as someone’s personal life and don’t wish to intrude.

Now the question is, why is the Indian culture so nosy compared to Western culture? Which one is the norm in world society and which is the odd one out? In the West, we have an idea of personal space and an idea of a personal sphere. Is this not the case in Indian culture? Is everybody’s business regarded as public business? Is there no concept of privacy? After all, in India, the houses are crowded full of people and they don’t have separate bedrooms like they have here – even in my own experience, I only had my own individual bedroom when I was over the age of eighteen. Is nosiness inevitably linked to the experience of life in a culture?



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