Friday, January 28, 2011

Gossip – Genesis, Growth & Propagations!

Guest Article by-S.N. Raj

Did you ask where “Gossip” got going?   Well, in the times when there were  no Face book, Twitter, SMS, mobile camera  etc for quicker sharing of ‘hot news’, where else could such happen  – if not at temples or at some-one’s wedding, or some-one’s funeral or during mutual visits to homes of relatives or when friends & foes  gather ? Now, don’t rush to put-down gossip as a base sport of olden times!   I am sure you and I also indulge in gossip of one kind or the other!  After all, the shapes, styles and forms of gossip have changed with time but the basic Kick, Fun, Pleasure etc. one gets out of gossips continues un-abated!

Being an Iyengar myself, let me tell you how gossips run its rounds in Iyengar families/homes – with a few examples. Ruchi & Suchi (names changed) home supplier of chilli powder in those days, I remember, they were very effective gossip mongers or originators because, they would be requisitioned by practically all the Iyengar homes in Bangalore !!   And so, they would freely ‘share’ whatever they saw or heard elsewhere and also freely ‘collected’ what was seen or heard in the homes that requisitioned them – so that they could ‘share’ it with other homes!  They knew of the wealth, health, internal problems, children, relatives, births, deaths, in house fights, menopauses of who and when and also of eligible bachelor boys, eligible girls - who had ‘come-of-age’ – for marriage alliances etc.   In fact, they would have made a good Marriage Bureau!

Then of course, the other sources of material for gossip was the jewel maker who came home to many Iyengar families and worked for days on stretch preparing ornaments.   He would talk of who-got-made-what, how-pure-or-impure-was-that etc. and needless to say he collected all the inside news from the home he worked at and freely share it elsewhere!  The jewel maker could understand Iyengar Tamil very well and had a ‘keen ear’ and ‘spoke-in-whispers’!A third source of gossip material was at the saree shop be it at Mahalakshmi Hall or at Iyengar’s or at Seethalakshmi hall in Chikpet of Bangalore.  The shop owners those days freely shared who took what and how many sarees on Approval Basis and returned some – soiled after using!!   

There is no ‘copy-right’ for the means/methods of gossip, be it sources/activation/propagation. It all depends on one’s skills & imagination!  All it needs is accepting the opposite of “See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil”. Having used the word ‘Gossip’, I was curious and I record below what I found: The first thing I did was to make GOOGLE give me search-results for the word gossip.  And what do I find?   Mind-boggling 107,000,000 results!  I didn’t bother to explore beyond the first one - which was from Wikipedia at:

I give only the brief ‘introductory ‘Para’ here: “GOSSIP is idle talk rumour , especially about the personal or private affairs of others. It forms one of the oldest and most common means of sharing (unproven) facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and other variations into the information transmitted. The term also carries implications that the news so transmitted (usually) has personal or trivial nature, as opposed to normal conversation. In the last decade, gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip is an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is defined here as "I help you and somebody else helps me". Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar an evolutionary biologist as aiding social bonding in large groups.The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry "gossip columns" which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of elite members of certain communities”.  
UN-QUOTE :  GOSSIP – once started - happily snow balled free & fast – to the delight of those with ‘ears-for-gossip’ (anyone & everyone did & do!) and cheek-muscles that needed exercise (as they ‘propagated-it’ further – with nor without additions or subtractions)!  

Did/ does gossip give hurt or happiness? Ask yourself. If undecided, give-it-a-try by being the gossiped or the gossiper! Gossip has defined person/topic/time/consequences! It is formless and yet may get responses/reactions. Dear readers, brush-up your gossip skills. Let me warn you though – Gossip if indulged-in while sitting in comfort and ‘packing-your-stomach’ with fatty eatables, you know the ‘result’! Go ahead and gossip to your heart’s content but make sure you also have a good stock of occasions, happenings, anecdotes etc. to share with others  and roll on the floor laughing so that any ‘bulges’ you’ve acquired while gossiping gets ‘rolled-out’ !!

(The author is Septuagenarian - Foot loose in memory sphere– living at Margao in Goa)


  1. I can testify to the claim that gossip is essential for social bonding! If you don't partake in the process you find yourself in the social dog house ;-)

  2. Wonderful post. I thoroughly enjoyed the three instances you have quoted.

  3. i myself love to gossip at times ... :) :)...

    thanks a lot for visiting my blog sir ...

  4. That was such a delightful post :) Today FB is doing what these gossip mongers did without the help of technology!

  5. FB is all about gossiping..little harmless chit chat is always welcome..

  6. True said...'it all depends on skills and imaginations' :)

  7. I wont say it is a social problem.I think one takes this as an opportunity and gossip.
    And why not?

  8. Thanks Sanmama, it was really great. Arun