by Promod Puri

I may be a complaint type of person. So are some or perhaps most of us of this nature.

Actually, I have not done any google research to find statistics about the extent of this addiction among us. The reason is even if I shovel to dig for the numbers these would be available in some percentage like most surveys report these days.

Whether it is desired or not the trend is that a lot of information and data come in the mathematical veil of percentage.

Example: there is a new small apartment building of 10 or 20 suites coming up in our neighborhood, and the latest sign says “90 percent sold”. Why don’t they make it more clear and simply say nine or 18 sold and only one or two are left.

Another one: the merchandising sales are advertised like “50% to 70% off”. Again we don’t get the actual prices of sale items unless we visit the stores advertising these super special sales.

This subtlety of percentage is always baffling to me. Anyway, the point is that I am complaining even about trivial matters or things.

Still, I feel the nature of complaining gives us an outlet to express our dislikes or disapprovals about something or most things we come across or experience in our day-to-day life.

There are an extensive cross-section and mixed bag of complaints; an endless list of our grudges against governments, politicians, leaders, bosses, and mothers-in-law/daughter-in-law; corporations, businesses, lawyers, doctors, dentists, and plumbers; friends and relatives (mostly at their backs); culture, traditions, systems, religions, and even God (why not); weather, environment, health and bad knees; etc, etc.

And then there are complaints about complaints, quite genuine ones. Here is a sample: a friend is meeting his buddy after quite some time. His first remarks the moment they meet are like this “why you did not inform me about your father’s death”. Before the buddy comes up with a reply, the friend continues “anyway, I am sorry to hear that….”. The very basic civility is to express condolence before complaining of not being informed about the sad news.

My own experience with a complaint is regarding talking with relatives in India by phone. A few of them, the moment they pick up the phone, sarcastically say ” finally you have come to remember us” or ” you are phoning us after a long time”.

Again the underlying social grace is to express thanks for my phone call and then complain if one has to. Here in Vancouver, Canada, the den of preserved Punjabi culture, the complaint goes like this ” O’ phon phan maar liya kar kadi”.

And then some people don’t have any distinction between a complaint and a compliment. Example: “Oh you look weak, you have lost so much weight, are you ok” or “you have put on quite a weight”. And then followed by “Nice to meet you”!

I don’t know what is the psychology behind being of complaining nature. But complaining can be considered as healthy criticism (sometimes). And for that reason, we should be in the elite category of being called critics like food critics or film critics.

So, shall we keep complaining? It does give an outlet to express oneself as well as some status of being a critic. Anyway, please do complain if you don’t like this piece.

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