What Else?

A weird title for a blog you would think but these two words that make a seemingly harmless question, have put me into loads of trouble! These are the first words my Dad utters over the phone after the initial greeting! He also asks this very same question a couple of times more during the conversation till I put my big foot into my bigger mouth and then…all hell breaks loose!

My father has never been a fan of speaking over the phone for gossip. It was drummed into us (my brother and I) as kids, that a telephone was to be used sparingly, only to convey essential information and needless gossip was to be avoided (it was indirectly meant for my mother as well!) The phone was for work and emergencies and was not to be kept engaged. It was understandable considering the fact that he was in the Armed Forces.

Years went by, we grew up, he retired and mobile phones made their way into the market and then into our lives! My mother would speak to everyone for long hours and she still does though both then and now she denies speaking for more than ten minutes!! When we would converse over the phone for over twenty minutes, and every day, mind you, my father’s booming voice could always be heard in the background “the phone is not meant to ask what she made for dinner”. Once a week, he would make it to the phone, and all that would come out after the “Hello, how are you” was “what else?”

Now, our father was strict and unlike our mother, who would listen to our woes and sympathize with us and be equally annoyed at anyone who would have rubbed us the wrong way, Daddy was against any form of sympathy and never encouraged cribbing. Even when Ma would speak about somebody who had been unpleasant, all you’d hear from Dad was “don’t character assassinate”. Needless to say, we never told him anything except absolutely essential stuff. He had no time for nonsense. So, when my brother would hear “what else” over the phone, he would say “nothing Daddy, all is well” (quick learner, that brother of mine) but I would rattle out everything that happened which would end up as my fault and I’d get chided or at least corrected for it all. And with the elephantine memory my father has, the contents of the conversation would be repeated over and over again in different contexts.

I am 46 going on 47 and guess what? I remain just as dumb. I do try what my brother does but my Dad asks a few more “what else?” questions, just when I get comfortable that the questioning has been over and done with, and out come answers that put me on the back foot again!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking though as to why people, be it parents, spouses, friends or relatives and even acquaintances ask so many questions. Why is there so much curiosity to know what the other person is doing? If I had something to say, I’d say it, wouldn’t I? I get irritated with questions of any kind, over the phone or via texting. Actually, I do not enjoy telephonic conversations except once in a rare while and to a select few people, my parents being the only exceptions to the rule (though they do have to put up with my fidgetiness). I haven’t learnt the art of hanging up and I squirm in my chair trying to entertain myself with something apart from the conversation. Usually, I play games, look into the crossword, scribble and sometimes I laugh with forced mirth and wonder why it doesn’t sound fake to the person at the other end. People, these days, do not get subtle hints!

Have you noticed that unnecessary conversations lead to negativity? Human beings are wired that way. When you talk to people often, you tend to turn conversations into crib sessions. It is low vibration energy. Gossip or as my father says, character assassination be it about someone we know personally, or a celebrity, a politician, the Government, the municipality or even President Trump is inevitable when people speak often. Isn’t it better then, that we start embracing silence and quiet a little more and talk only if we have something positive to say? If nothing else, just wanting to speak will get us to think positively and relay happy thoughts.

I believe there is enough stress and negativity in the world as it is, why compound it by reliving it through conversations? It’s just a thought.


Credits: educateinsprechange.org



  1. With social media as such adding to the interaction through 'chatting', it becomes even more important that we reduce the 'talking'...after all it's eating up into the own time or time for other useful things..

  2. Exactly my thoughts when it comes to telephone calls and even texting. For me, "what else" Is generally a hint to end the conversation with a polite reply " All is well. Take care. " 😊

    1. :D I envy men who hang up so easily after a crisp call. I am yet to see a woman do that!


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