By Nury Vittachi
Once a month I used to have lunch with the world's most chauvinistic man, an Indian working in China. He always tormented waitresses. He often abused them BEFORE we were served, so heaven only knows what was in our food. (I always declined the soup.)
Sometimes he behaved so badly that I was tempted to secretly return later to compensate the waitresses by purchasing luxury homes for them. I was prevented from doing so only by the pressure of time, and the fact that luxury homes cost money.
He died recently. I'll miss him, but not his sexism. The attitudes of his generation made it hard for women to advance. Here are his typical comments on his staff.
A male staff member wears a black suit and white shirt. "What a natty dresser."
A female staff member wears a black suit and white shirt. "Pah! Don’t you just hate women who dress like men?"
A male staff member turns up in a suit which is not black. "I like him: a maverick."
A female staff member turns up in a suit which is not black. "Where do they think they are? A fashion show?"
A male leaves the office early. "He's probably gone to play golf with a client."
A female leaves the office early. "They sneak out for shopping, you know."
A male asks for an assistant. "Of course he should have one: you can't expect him to do everything."
A female asks for an assistant. "They need someone to show them what to do."
A male asks for an extension on his project. "Such a perfectionist."
A female asks for an extension on her project. "They can't cope with the stress, you know."
A male starts dating someone in the firm. "Great idea, it'll be easier to keep company secrets on the inside."
A female starts dating someone in the firm. "Finding a husband, that's what they're really here for."
A male puts a picture of his beloved on his desk. "I like a man with family values and a good work/life balance."
A female puts a picture of her beloved on her desk. "That's their priority. Watch her get pregnant and abandon us."
A male asks for more responsibility and a massive pay-rise. "I like a man who thinks big."
A female asks for more responsibility and a massive pay-rise. "They ask for the impossible now so that they can sue you for discrimination later."
A male announces that he is going to be a father. "Better give him a raise. He'll need the extra cash."
A female announces that she is going to be a mother. "Aiyo, they cost us a fortune in maternity benefits."
A male closes his office door and is spotted deep in conversation. "He must be working on a top-level confidential deal."
A female closes her office door and is spotted deep in conversation. "Gossiping as usual."
A male resigns. "He has cleverly spotted some interesting opportunity."
A female resigns. "They've got no staying power, you know."
Anyway, my chauvinistic friend died relatively young, and it was never clear why. Unlike me, he never declined the soup.