Beware of Besserwisser

While our  family were traveling to Mysuru on a well deserved Vacation, heard a conversation between a Foreign Tourist and a “Know-it-all” co-passenger. He has been traveling in India for over 4 months & showed us a photograph – am amazing click of Cloud capped Hill and before he could explain about the place, Mr “Know-All” began his incessant blabber on why India can never have this  kind of a scenic place (Geography), how definitely it cannot be in the South India since the clouds can never descend so low (Science on the kind of clouds etc and went on and on, we learnt of Cumulonimbus, cumulus blah blah), and it can never be this clean ever and by this time our quarry lobby would have chipped the stones away to glory. He then launched on to the Photographic skills of this foreign gentleman, how the click could have been much better (notwithstanding the fact that this gentleman profusely pleaded that he is no wizard and he was trying various filters). Ultimately while this gentleman sat there amused and shocked that he was being grossly proven wrong to the extent a doubt slowly began growing in his mind that this click could probably somewhere outside.

During a small break from the monologue of Mr “Know-All” – thank God, his throat was parched and he needed water, my son decided to ask, “Uncle Ric, where is this place”. “Skandadurga” not so far from Bengaluru (around 70kms) was his reply. He was about to describe more about the place when he was abruptly cut short by Mr “Know-All”

Representative Picture – Credits to Owner

He was not the one to accept it at all. For him, this tourist who spent a day in this place and clicked the photographs was not competent enough. I casually asked him where he was from. After about 15 minutes of rants, he says he is from Jabalpur and first time in South. Bravo! Our gang could only applaud his bravery. For someone who never been south, he was sermonizing to someone who explored this place for close to 18 hours, on the place, on his photography skills, on clouds. I am sure this guy’s photography skill would be limited to the Samsung Mobile camera that he was carrying. Waah re!

In this age of WTF (Whatsapp/Wiki, Twitter & Facebook) it is not difficult to find such Besserwissers (German word that translates to “Better Knowing” or “I-Know-It-All”) all around us. It doesn’t matter to them that they have lived their life like the proverbial “Frog-in-the-well” but have an authoritative advise and opinion on the Sea, of all people to the Sailor who has conquered the Oceans and seen so many ports in his life.

An example that Nandan Nilekani is never tired of quoting is, when he was giving a lecture on his experience in designing and implementing Aadhaar sometime back. Somebody asked him how difficult was it to work in Delhi,” Nilekani’s response: “The first hurdle that you come across is that they say we know this. The toughest hurdle is if they say we are already doing this. There isn’t much to do then”.  Narayan Murthy, founder of Infosys said, “We Indians have highest “Ego per Unit of Achievement”. This closes all channels of openings to a new idea and also to those who have performed better than us.

When we speak, we are no wiser in the end – we are left with whatever we knew (right or wrong). When we listen, we add to whatever we knew (again, right or wrong).


It helps to know practice Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”

Another relevant quote to note “It is better to keep our mouth shut and let people assume that we are fool rather than open our mouths and confirm it”

As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living says, “

“If you find fools around you, they are going to make you wiser. The number of fools around you indicates the strength of your centeredness. Don’t try to get rid of them! If you are not centered you will have no patience to put up with them. When you are totally established, you find the fools come up with wisdom. They are your own reflection, there is no other. Fools offer you frustration and wisdom. Be choosy and make your life juicy”

And to sign this piece off, another one from Gurudev – A gem in context of this piece

Love and authority are totally opposite values yet they co-exist.

The grosser the consciousness, authority has to be more pronounced. The more refined and subtle the consciousness, lesser is the need to exercise authority.

When you are gross, you demand authority and when you demand authority, love recedes. Asserting authority indicates lack of confidence and love. The more evident one’s authority, the less sensitive and effective it will be.

A sensible person would not demand authority at all… but will assume it. The most effective CEOs will not make you feel their authority, for authority can never bring inspiration.

Your sincere servant has more authority over you than your boss, isn’t that so? A baby has full authority over the mother. Similarly, a devotee has all the authority over the Divine, though he never exercises it.

So, the subtler you become, the more authority you gain. The greater the love, subtler will be the authority. The lesser the love, the more pronounced will be the authority.

Wishing all readers a very happy, prosperous, joyous
“Know nothing much/I want to know more”

4 thoughts on “Beware of Besserwisser

  1. Raghav December 27, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Cool one…… Was a refreshing writing….

  2. swatishreepatra December 28, 2016 / 12:22 am

    So much knowledge in a small master piece. I must say…u write osm blogs. Thank you for leaving such beautiful message in the end.

  3. rijina December 28, 2016 / 7:46 am

    awesome blog….

  4. Giri December 28, 2016 / 10:23 am

    Power packed message narrated in a lucid manner, only Suresh can do it.

Comments are closed.