Loudness is not really seen as a problem in these parts of the world. Libraries, hospitals, educational institutions, planes and trains that insist on a modicum of volume control in quieter climes, are decibelle of the ball here, with little to no complaint. So, imagine the University of Exeter in Britain having to cough up more than £100,000 (over ₹1 crore) to physics lecturer Annette Plaut for firing her because of her ‘loud voice’. Plaut, who knows her acoustic physics, was terminated from her job of 26 years for what she admits is her ‘inherently loud’ – owing to her ‘eastern European Jewish heritage’, she claimed, thereby making it hard for anyone to not ‘deliver justice’ to a ‘wronged’ 60-year-old Ashkenazi – and ‘naturally argumentative’ nature. But it was her not behaving ‘how a woman should behave’ that she believes led to the university authorities quietly sacking her.

Our interest is, frankly, not in the merits of the case or the judgment, but the fact that standard behaviour in the subcontinent can lead to, first, dismissal from a job, and then the jackpot elsewhere. Since being voluble and garrulous are not considered character or professional flaws here, perhaps, the way forward is to speak too softly, leading to colleagues and others constantly being unable to make out what one is saying? This is a plan WORTH PURSUING!


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