Misconceptions are much too human foibles. They are formed due to preconceived notions, mostly wrong ones.
When I used to walk to my Degree College with my friends, I would sometimes meet my brother Satyan with his friends, cycling on the way to or from his Engineering College. Much keen as I was to show off my handsome brother who moved in fashionable circles to my friends, my brother would never acknowledge his well oiled, single plaited, ‘behenji’ of a sister outside the house.
However, when I was engaged to be married, he started taking me (that too alone!) to the posh cantonment area to see English movies. When my mother asked for an explanation, he described his ‘de-behnji-ing’ program thus, “She is going to marry an Air force officer. She cannot very well discuss the Tamil movies which she has been seeing all these days. I am introducing her to English movies so that she could make some good conversation with Ramu”. Unfortunately, Satyan did not live long enough to see that his smart brother-in law, who used to see English movies in Camp cinemas and theatres, now prefers to watch ONLY Tamil movies on his home TV after his retirement!
Misconceptions are found mostly in food habits. My mother would very wisely counsel us, “Never say no to any dish offered at your in laws’ place. You will never ever be offered again though you may have felt like eating it later”
When I entered my married life, I thought I would impress my husband with a new, easy dish I had learnt—Banana fritters. As soon as he saw it, Ramu bolted away from the room saying, “For heaven’s sake don’t ever try to make it. They always make it in the mess whenever old bananas are lying in stock and I hate it”.
When I visited my bachelor son in Los Angeles, he brought home Paul, an American friend of his, for lunch. As a concession to the guest’s race, I had arranged a bit of cutlery around his plate. As soon as Paul saw it, he exclaimed, “No way am I going to eat a South Indian meal with spoon and fork. I am going to use my fingers”!
There was a time when MTR had not yet invaded USA with their ‘ready to eat’ South Indian items in packets. When I visited my son after he married an American girl, I thought I would show off and make some Chinese and North Indian dishes. My daughter-in-law interceded. She said, “I can cook all the wonky stuff myself. As for the north Indian dishes, the Indian restaurants have them in plenty. Please cook some simple, wholesome South Indian meals which he has been deprived of and has been hankering for. I don’t know how to cook them; nor does any Indian restaurant serve them.”
The worst case of misconception was during the 2nd World War. I was then 5 years old. I used to watch trucks, full of troops (whites), passing in front of our house in Kolar. The rumours were rife that these troops kidnapped girls and carried them away. I could not help watching them with a fatal fascination. Being a born and perennial ‘hum’mer, I would be humming some tune, with the fear of being kidnapped at the back of my mind. As the troops approached, I would suddenly go ‘off key’ in the hope that they would never want a girl who sang ‘off key’ and so would spare me.
But, when my own military man appeared in my life later (at a more nubile age), my music was the last thing on his mind. In fact, I was not even asked to sing during ‘Vadhu pareeksha’ (viewing of the girl). He ‘kidnapped’ me and ‘carried me’ away for life- bad key, bad scale and bad tune notwithstanding !