This morning, as I walked into the swimming pool area, I saw the son of my father's friend. I walked over to him to say Hi and make polite conversation. After the How are yous, things drifted to work.

He asked me if my office was still in Begumpet. I replied in the negative and said that that company had shut down and I was now working for a company called Splendid Green Technologies. "Oh!", he said, "you work for them now?". "Yes", I said.

And then he dropped the bomb.

"How much are they paying you?"

"That's none of your fucking business!", I wanted to say. But restrained myself.

I muttered a ridiculously low figure.

"Oh! that much they are paying you!"

"Yes, but about a third of it goes into tax", I offered, trying hard to reduce his shock.

"Oh, ok". Didn't work too well.

I hurriedly took leave and walked towards the changing room.

The fascination for the knowledge of everyone's income really is amazing. Many people cannot help asking these kinds of questions. They will itch and itch till they ask that question. And they will have an opinion about the figure no matter how high or how low it is.

Income is a highly personal piece of information. And I have often been embarrassed by people asking me the question. I am rarely prepared to answer this and end up saying something ridiculous when the answer should be short and simple: "None of your fucking business!"


Unknown said…
Happens only in Hyderabad.

Ashamed to say that I grew up there. In the 1960's, Hyderabad was such a cultured place, with people of refined taste.

Now: ugh!!!
Anonymous said…
Nice one Kamal. There is this second category of folks, who first disclose their income, and then expect you to repeat the favor.

Long time back, I once met this guy at a grocery store in the US. Seems to have come fresh from India. After a casual conversation, we began discussing about jobs. He was like, i make 60k sir, btw what do you make??

I was shocked at his approach, and had to answer "what is there, standard software engineer range". Thank god, he left the topic right there.

preetik said…
Well if men feel the pinch how must a married woman feel when she is asked if she is working. What kind of a question is that? Coz in my head i think all married women are working. They slog to maintain a happy home don't they?
Believe me the world is tougher for women out there than for men.
Unknown said…
If you think being a woman is tougher than being a man, put yourself in a transgender's (hijra's) shoes for a few minutes, and count your blessings.

The issue is not the question that one is asked (there will always be the stupid/insensitive one). It is how you do not loose your composure or dignity when asked such a question.
Akbar Pasha said…
I think you should employ the trick I use. I ask them back to guess how much I make. I had a friend who spent all day guessing numbers and I would say wrong, close, not close, far.

It's people's insecurity that makes them to checkout other people's salary because they associate self-worth with the amount of money people make. These people are ill & sick at some level and don't know nothing about the nuances of life.

So, why not make a game out of it?
Unknown said…
So how much DO YOU make? haha... just kidding.

I wholeheartedly agree, there's an unhealthy trend to draw satisfaction through comparisons. Such superciliousness should be harshly dealt with.

I like Akbar's solution above.