Friday, June 08, 2012

The YBIMB Gene

Think about the creation of the universe/humans whichever way you want. Big bang, whimper, design, evolving from the amoeba . or what have you. But whenever, whatever, or whoever dealt out the various genes and chromosomes, I am convinced , that , all the YBIMB genes , came to us . To those of you who are acronymically disabled, that is the "Your Business Is My Business "  gene.

While this is called Fine Industrial Espionage in say, management circles,  for those of us living humdrum ordinary lives, this takes the form, of bare acquaintances, and sometimes even total unknowns,  pretending to be suddenly casual and making it their business as to ask questions, which are really none of their business.

38 years ago,  standing at a suburban rationing office window , for adding one's name to the ration card post marriage, we submitted the documents. In those days, the legal marriage certificate was not mandatory, but was part of the sheaf of documents we submitted anyway, since it was logical.

The guy inside, normally not  having encountered one  so far,  thought this was really glamorous, that maybe we had to get a certificate because standard modes of marriage (priest, parents, hordes of relatives, hall, 500 guests, massive lunches, receptions, decorations) were not available to us;  he  perused the documents, looked up at us through the window grill, and with a snide smile, said "Runaway marriage ?"   After an initial shock , he was told in no uncertain terms about  how he shouldn't worry about whether we walked , ran or leaped,  and where was his boss's desk anyway?  Several pairs of idle eyes looking at us from inside, wondering how runaway types could look so boring.  By and by the work was done.

Eight years ago,  I voluntarily retired from my job  because I had to take up some family responsibilities regarding my parents. The spouse worked in the same organization, and had several years of fruitful service left.  Walking out of the campus hospital after some test, a sometime aquaintance, walks up to me in great urgency and asks " So, he is going to America ?"

Nonplussed, for a moment, I thought it was someone behind me being addressed. Then I realized that folks who had no clue about  my parents, assumed that I had resigned so I could accompany the husband abroad. This "abroad"  stuff was news to me. I asked where he heard this amazing America news. To which I was told that it was a natural conclusion because I had resigned. I told the guy I would ask my husband if he was going to America and let him know. The fellow sheepishly walked away. 

A few months ago, we were seated in the waiting area of the OPD in a large leading  hospital, as we had an appointment with the doctor. Being a specialised OPD, consultations were often time consuming and there was a TV , kept soundlessly on, for the entertainment  of the waiting folks. Cricket was on, and the spouse  was intently watching it. I normally carry a book to read whenever one has to wait, and I sat a couple of seats away where the fancy lighting was a bit more conducive to reading.

A one time acquaintance walked in. Highly educated. Brimming with confidence.  Or possibly bravado. I don't know. He too had an appointment, and  sat down amidst us, talking about the old days, other folks, heart problems, costs, advances in technology today, the hospital etc etc. Each other's children were enquired after, the state of the nation was commented on, and the spouse got up to go out and attend to a phone call.

Suddenly this man turns and  asks, "Why are you sitting there, so far away ? "

" Oh . I don't care for TV and I have this book I am reading. The light is better here."  Me.

He looks at me as if I am lying. The book is lying by my side, as it is impolite to read when someone you know is having a conversation with you.

" No. But why there ? He (the spouse) is sitting here. "  Insistent. Digging. And honestly, none of his business.

" Ah .  It's OK."  I spy the spouse returning. " Why don't you ask him ? "

The man gets embarassed. Of course he doesn't ask the spouse.  They sit.

He casually  bends. " What is this book you are reading ?"    

I hold up the tome. With both hands. It's heavy. In weight and in the amazing content.

"The Emperor of Maladies", by Dr Siddharth Mukherjea.   A wonderful book. "

The conversation ends. Small talk on this book is not possible. I let him stew in his puzzled thoughts.  Maybe he thinks I am hiding something, maybe he thinks I am a supporter of Monarchy.  

I don't really care what he thinks.

 I open my page and continue reading, in the same seat, as the spouse enjoys some soundless exciting cricket , a  few feet away, till we are called in by the doctor.

I wish someone would come out with a tome on Social Maladies. They will find several Emperors .

And you know what ? More the education, more the Emperors..... 


  1. Good one. It is in our interfering genes to figure out what is on with our neighbours, neighbours cousins, our cousins wife's sister's life, and poke our noses into all that really does not concern us. I remember the guy at the airport immigration telling me that it was time I changed my last name after marriage and its not good to not change it. Well, really, if the law does not require me to change it, why does he need to advise me! But like I said, I let it slide now. Its just the genes maybe!

  2. Thanks for that I am acronimacally disabled could never have found it ..
    but yeah the interference GENE is in us all , there is also one more gene that goes hand in hand with this one .. If you dont interfere then they say You dont care that much about them :) dont know what that can be called

    and edcuation does not make a person intelligent or whatever .. :)


  3. First time I've heard this acronym- 'YBIMB'!

    Another name for that trait would be 'nosy'. And most of us Indians are certainly that! :D

  4. YBIMB genes are in us all.. though we get irritated when we are victims to one such persons observations, those gene in us too gets activated sometimes.It doesnt change with education, Its all due to our interest in others life than ours'

  5. "Your Business Is My Business "
    I think we Indians specialize in this :-P

  6. YBIMB... and unsolicited advice, regardless of whether accepted or not!

    Hugs, Suranga!

  7. I thought i forgot a few lessons from my Genetics class :-)
    This YBIMB gene has been a constant presence and yet was not taught to us :P
    Is it in the localised gene pool of Indians or all over? I don't know.