Very Poor Social Life in London at Home and Outside
It is very difficult for a social natured person to stay for long in London. PR in the Capital and suburbs is very poor. A gregarious man would be frustrated and annoyed within a few days if he had no social connections.
People hardly know who their next door neighbours are, let alone those further down the street. Even near relatives only meet on special occasions, and other relatives perhaps meet each other once a year during the New Year social gatherings or for marriage celebrations. They meet in the Temple at such events, but then they hardly greet each other. Even the near relatives behave as if they are strangers.
Everybody is busy in London. As everyone has to work full-time for a decent living, no one has time to go next door and have a chat with their neighbour. Neither can anyone find time to go to a relative’s or friend’s house for a social visit, and if there is an issue to be discussed, it is most often dealt with on the telephone.
Parents have no time to spare to help their school-age children, or to notice in real terms whether, and what they are learning. They have no time to check up on the movements of their young children and hardly bother with details about the types of friends they hang around with. Young daughters go with their boyfriends to hotels and pubs and other public places and yet the busy parents are not in picture. They are neither surprised nor shocked to see their daughters inviting boyfriends home for dinner or a birthday party. The fact that their young daughters are coming home late on weekdays does not seem to unduly concern the parents.
Sometimes the young daughter introduces her boyfriend to her mother and discusses marriage to that boy. If the mother does not agree, and if she is unable to convince the father, the daughter arranges for a court marriage and then gives the shocking news to her parents. She then leaves the family home and lives with her husband. Frequently, the husband of their choice is outside their community, and of a different culture, which can lead to problems. If only one of the parents had spared some time to talk to their daughter and keep an eye on her circle of friends and her movements, the matter would have never gone to such extremes. These are not short term commitments; surely, the daughter is in a long-term relationship with the boy.
But now it is too late and the parents, although very upset and annoyed, recognize the marriage and allow their daughter and son-in-law to come to their house. They improve their relationships and try to do the same with the parents of the boy, if he is on good terms with his parents. They also invite the daughter and her husband to social and family functions.
It is same with the boys who often marry ‘outside’ girls, who are not Hindu. There are cases of the free-minded boys being married to Muslims and white girls, where they find it very difficult to settle in the community and with the relatives in general. That gives the younger generation a very bad image. The other daughter, or son, would not hesitate to do the same, knowing that their parents will never willingly agree to a mixed marriage, but if they run away and carry out a court marriage, although the parents will be harsh in the beginning, they will accept them after some time, as they have done so in the previous case. The young find it easier and more convenient to fulfil their desires against the wishes of their parents.
These parents should be careful in taking such decisions. Either they should forget about their children who run away from home and marry against their parents’ wishes, or they should willingly agree to the choice of their children without too much fuss, rather than accepting them after they have run away. If they are ready to forgive the son or the daughter after he or she has run away from home and married his or her choice, which is mostly out of the community, they would have been better to do it earlier before the marriage took place without their blessings.
As the girls and boys start earning, they very quickly find the freedom to take their own decisions. They spend money as they choose and move around as they wish. Very rarely do they go out at night with the permission of their parents. Sometimes they are thoughtful enough to ring from their place of enjoyment to inform either parent of their late arrival home. But most of the time they come home after midnight, and their parents have nothing to say about it.
Near relatives meet on different occasions. People from the same village in India meet once a year at the annual gathering of the particular village, or at functions like marriages. Religious minded persons meet each other often in the temple, but they hardly greet an unknown person, the stranger in their midst. Even people who are well acquainted are not used to greeting each other and when they happen to meet at a public place they will pass by without any particular greeting. They might smile at each other in the same way they would smile at a stranger. They meet the same people every day or every week in the shopping centres, railways, offices, and in the temples, but they hardly ever greet each other with a smile, even when they are facing each other. Making friends is very rare and maintaining friendship is difficult without seeming vague or casual.
Whites and browns stay in the same areas; they meet each other mostly every day on the road or in the street. Perhaps they know each other from where they live, but they never even bother to greet each other, never mind have a friendly chat. Not surprisingly, they know very little about each other.
Many people walk together every day, sit in the same railway carriage and get out at the same station but they never take the trouble to be friendly, apart from exchanging a smile at some passing, maybe amusing incident. The formula of making new friends is very tedious and extremely slow as public relations in the London metropolis are very poor. People try not to extend relationships; they try to avoid further relationships with neighbours or co-workers or co-travellers. They don’t even try to take the opportunity to extend friendships with the people they meet often… it seems they do not have time for that. Improving public relations means giving more time and that is not possible. A shopkeeper may give you a friendly smile as a customer, but even if you go to the same shop every day and buy certain items regularly, it would be difficult for you to develop a very friendly relationship with him – or him with you. Every shopkeeper needs business. But he never tries to establish the good customers by using good PR. Business in London is not very competitive; otherwise it would be very difficult for those with poor PR to stay in business. People, being creatures of habit, are used to shopping in a certain shop merely because that particular shop has the item of their choice, or it is convenient to where they live.