The word "serious" has suddenly become seriously important. And although a recent usage was additionally adorned with waving of hands, shoving of electronic implements, associations with dry fruits , and a glare, one may think of several scenarios where some one's seriousness can be , what else, seriously questioned, without any movements of solid items and clickable contraptions.
You read in the papers about tomatoes selling wholesale for 7 Rs a kilo. You still have a day before you do your weekly vegetable shopping, but this is too good to pass up. You rush to the local mandi with your recyclable bags, and insert the tomato question between the karelas and lauki selections. "40 Rs a kilo, auntyji" , he says, "Kitna kilo ?" , as he concentrates on throwing papdi on the weighing scale.
And I can only look back , mouth agape, and then quickly close it just as quickly, to ask him "Are you serious ?" (Notice that I don't grab the tomato or fling it at him)....
Another time, two law abiding , tax paying ,old ladies, are driving out of a gated community and finding themselves more than 70 percent across a huge wide crossing, they continue on as the traffic light turns yellow. It is just that there is a huge tree right in front of the signal, and peering thru the green foliage while driving might endanger several pedestrians. Suddenly , a vision in uniform looms ahead, waving them to the side. Windows down, a conversation ensues. There is a presumed receipt book and a pen in the hand of a traffic cop. He asks for the driver's licence. Then asks if no one noticed the signal .
The two old ladies get off. Rise to their full five feet something height. One of them has a cane. They ask the cop to accompany them to the middle of the crossing. They need to show him how the lush foliage of the tree blocks the traffic signal. He tries to pooh pooh their talk. Doesn't succeed. Tree cutting is not their job and needs permissions. The ladies insist that signal situating is clearly the cops' job. The entire drama is watched by the roadside small shops and vendors. The cop knows when he should change tactics. He starts waving, blowing the whistle and directing the traffic. When suddenly one of the ladies points to several bikes without helmeted drivers cruising by, and questions him as to whether he saw them . And why isn't he stopping and charging them. He looks at them with a mixture of pleading and surprise as if to say "Are you serious ?" Why don't you just go...?" .
Another day in the life of a normal working woman.
She comes back to work after an absence of 2 months, where leave has been duly applied for, sanctioned , and taken. Goes to the bank, only to find out that her salary has not been credited , despite this being paid leave or earned leave, as it is called. The bank says they credit whatever is presented to them in a monthly list . So she goes to the administration/accounts department of her employer. and asks around as to why her salary has been withheld.
Then someone sweetly smiles at her, and says , " You see, Mrs XXX is on leave for Ganpati, and she handles your stuff. Once she returns, your salary will be immediately credited. ...." . This is a government office. A lot of stuff frowned upon elsewhere, gets smiles here. Except from her.
She shakes her head. She has just spent half a working morning trying to figure out why they withheld her salary. She simply takes a deep breath, and gives the sweet smiling person a wide eyed "Are You serious ? " look, and slowly walks away.......
And then there are the funny days.
She goes swimming daily, and no one gives her a second look, as she huffs and puffs through her laps. There are many like her, desperately trying to fight a war between intake and weight, and most folks at the pool who are regulars and serious about swimming, respect her efforts, and let her be. One day she finishes her stuff, and sits back in the gallery to wait for a friend, only to run into an ex-neighbor.
"Aap ko yeh sab (~swimsuit) daalke idhar udhar karne ko sharam nahi lagti ?" the neighbor asks, wrapping her palloo on both shoulders.
" Kya hai na , aadat pad gayi hai. Jabhi mai swimming suit pehenti hoon, tab khud ko Madhuri Dikshit samajhke pool me jaati hoon....."
The neighbor almost gets apoplexy, imagining an intersection of a podgy lady and Madhuri Dikshit, doesn't know what to say or believe, and simply looks at her with a shocked OMG look that says " You and Madhuri Dikshit ? Are you serious ?" :-)
And yet, while one comes to terms with things like rushing somewhere in the rain using three modes of transport, and then finding out that the event is cancelled, or having a person scrape your car while overtaking you, only to shout at you and make unsavoury comments about your perfectly good driving; or even a simple withdrawal transaction in a bank, for which they make you go to three different people, at three different desks, because they have issues with each other; one simply avoids confrontations of the "Are you serious? " type. In the interests of peace.
Just however. If someone gave me crores, and said, "here, take this, and use it to buy something from us !" , I would go into a frightened trance, stare at the person, suspect his/her motivation and connections, immediately refuse vehemently, and wordlessly mouth the immortal words , " Are you serious ? Are you serious ?" and disappear from the scene.........
I guess I am in a stupid minority.
Smart folks smile, take the stuff, use it to make more money, and then use the "serious" question as an answer if someone questions.