Boundaries Gentlemen….Boundaries

How far is one allowed to stretch their friendship at the office? More times than not, we forget the thin and almost blurred line that separates college buddy and office colleague. I’m not sure if this is only relevant to the IT industry, so rather than generalize and have many IT-fan boys tell me that ‘casual is the new professional’, I had better come to the point.

Early afternoon two weeks ago, I was invited to present some whachamaycallit to a firang (white-skinned former master). I was invited by one of my colleagues,  with whom I share a decent rapport with and I have worked with him on numerous occasions since I joined my current company. I was walking to the room where everyone was gathered to present when this colleague and a firang (whom I assume is the kasht-amar) step out. I stretch out my hand to greet this person whom I know.

With me so far? Good…. Instead of returning my handshake, this colleague goes on to step right next to me and start patting my tummy.

Excuse me ? Hello? Why this kolaveri? That too in front of foreign uncleji?

I’m way too shocked and stare at this fellow while he continues to pat my tummy in a manner that you rub a dog’s belly. He just does not stop. He goes on to ask me in tamil how I’ve been. In my moment of terrible discomfort and social awkwardness, I decide to introduce myself to the firang.

Phew, the patting stops. Dear Mr.Firang kasht-amar decides to be cheeky and respond by saying, “you guys seem like good friends.” Oh my lord….what has happened? So much for him adding me on Linkedin and me being able to send my resume build connects to improve company-customer relations.

I am not a good luck charm whose belly you rub to get good luck. I’m not a dog that becomes more affectionate with a belly rub. Also, I’m not a teletubby. This is inappropriate behavior not only for the office, but is inappropriate behavior for any place. And just because I’m larger than average people and my tummy sort of enters a room before I do, does not… DOES FRIKKIN NOT give anyone the right to pat it. I’m not a college chum…or chum of any sort. No public display of affection please. A hug is alright…tummy patting or any other form of touching is not.