Kindly adjust ‘The woes of being stuck with Western standards.

In the late 1980s I wrote to a then well-known company making diaries regarding the telephone index at the end. I suggested that as not many Indian names begin with Q, Y or Z, the telephone index section of the diary could be re-designed so as to give more pages to, say, R or S as, at least in South India, there are more names beginning with those letters. A prompt reply from the chief of diary company suggested that I should learn to “adjust” to international standards or yardsticks. I could never figure out what he was suggesting and continue to strike out O and Q from the pages of the index and use it for P, R and S and similarly over-write X, Y and Z with S and T.

Elsewhere too it is the lot of the Indians to make do with international standards and measures. For instance, apparel. According to a recent newspaper report, “the National institute of Fashion Technology has launched a research initiative to create standard apparel size charts for Indians, as has been done for the apparel markets in the US and Europe… ” The report quoted the Tirupur Exporters’ Association President as saying that though “we export garments across the globe, we follow the size charts supplied by our importers. The US and Europe have standardised size charts but we do not know the sizes for Indians.”

That explains the ill-fitting shirts and trousers that Indian men try to get into. And the less said about the inner-wear the better. The same is the case with footwear; the sizes are American or European but not Indian. Thus pinches globalisation.

The other day in the sleek bus that sweeps you from the airport gate to the aircraft I lurched this way and that as I could not reach the roof handle bars. It was apparently not meant for me, but the average European or American. Can modern technology not aid bus-body-builders fix handle bars that an average Indian can reach, instead of their relying only on Western measures?

Or, go to a cell phone service provider’s office and you are sure to see many agonising over the application form, trying to squeeze in their names and surnames in the limited number of tiny boxes provided. Worse, is trying to filliin the address with old and new numbers, crosses, mains and streets. Again, these are internationally designed forms perhaps by global consultants and one possible solution is for Indians to shorten their names or move to less-cumbersome addresses.

The same thing is happening to bank forms. The simple deposit slip has gone global, with small boxes and finger-wagging to fill one letter per box; the last part of the name that cannot be accommodated may have to go on the next form. Many forms also ask `father’s name’, which is often twice as long as the applicant’s. One solution would be to keep the money with you rather than in the bank as mutilating one’s father’s name is a cardinal sin according to Hindu belief.

That globalisation has got the nation on its toes was brought to me in the rest room of a five-star hotel. The urinal, designed to American and European standards, was too high for an average Indian like me and one was left feeling like a small boy.

The Indian consumer is slowly known as the “mal(l) adjusted middle class” eternally trying to live up to Western standards with not much success. At least now, when India is the flavour of the world, let us hope that the Bangalorean way of ”

Solpa Adjust Madi

” (kindly adjust) is replaced with standards and yardsticks that have the measure of the Indian consumer.


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