Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Intended to be Hyderabad Diary 1: However post is afflicted by Damn Digressions.

Though I'm a gem of a person otherwise... (I’m not blowing my own trumpet. Long ago when my age could be counted in single figures a schoolmate of mine had called me a diamond. I repeat the conversation to you verbatim -- you be the judge of how impartial this comment was.

Me: Your sister is so sweet! (ruffling a little runt’s hair on the Ashok Hall Junior School bus.)
Girl: Don’t touch my sister!
Me: Why? Is your sister a diamond?
Girl: YOU are a diamond!!! (accompanied by much frowning and shaking of fists)) ...

...As I was saying, though a thoroughly priceless sort on the whole, one major flaw that people nag me about is my staying-in-touch skill, or lack thereof. So while other people manage their time by calling friends and relatives on the way to or back from work, or while eating lunch (as -- I must add -- the person they’re having lunch with gets more and more furious), in the loo (I've never been great at multi-tasking), etc – I never seem to find the right time to call people up. It happens therefore, that some friends tire of being the ones to make the effort and just stop calling.

It was with considerable alarm that the realization dawned on me: I had started getting news from my husband about all the friends I’d left behind in Hyderabad 4 and a half years ago. So when my Dad called me to say he’d be in Hyderabad on business and would like to meet me, I seized the opportunity to kill several birds (birds - aka friends and relatives; and kill them with kindness and company) with one stone (i.e trip---you must try to keep up with the metaphors, let me know if I’m going too fast for you.) and resolved to travel to Hyderabad for the weekend.

The husband begged off citing work after stringing me along till the last day or two, so I went alone. I'm quite used to travelling alone by now, because it’s very hard to coordinate spur-of-the-moment trips with a workaholic spouse.

Besides, we don’t believe in sitting in on private conversations of friends we don’t share, smiling inanely at private jokes that have to be explained, and essentially being a pain in the ass to the friend who isn’t comfortable discussing private things in front of a person just because he/she is married to a close friend.

That wasn’t the case with these friends (and of course my Dad) in Hyderabad, but I was just explaining why we travel around a lot by ourselves.

OK, to get back to what I was saying before I was rudely interrupted by a damn digression. (‘Damn Digression’ is a good name for a rock band.) …

Actually, on second thoughts I can see I’m going nowhere with this travelogue – I’ll give it a shot again tomorrow.

Since I’m meandering all over the place in this post (senile dementia) ; I’ll mention two more things before I go.

1) Thank you all for taking the trouble to add yourselves as my followers. It’s a very sweet gesture. (And unexpected in one or two cases.)

2) I watched ‘The Notebook’ yesterday and have decided Ryan Gosling is quite definitely hot. Weird that I’ve seen him before and never felt it. I have decided I will watch his other movies closely and come to an educated decision.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A World Without Labels

Are you one of those people who can’t REST until you label other people? So much so, that you will take some half-assed impression you haven’t even bothered to verify with a second look, or by comparing notes with another acquaintance of the labelee, and just slap on a tag so you can feel better?

And of course labels are made for sharing, you’re too unselfish to keep them to yourself, so once you’ve come up with one you make sure everyone gets a persuasive speech in its favour. Those who resist of course get labels of their own, so it’s all good.

Once everybody is neatly labeled off( like what my mother in law did with all the spice bottles in my kitchen cabinet --“Jeera -cumin”-- with pieces of paper and a ballpoint pen); you can feel that you’ve introduced some order in the madness and uncertainty that is human existence.

Now-- you think, as you stretch your arms luxuriously over your head and congratulate yourself on a job well done – now I’ll know exactly what to expect from so and so person. There will be NO surprises and I can in fact predict and pre-empt everything he or she does.

Every action that confirms the label will be announced “I always TOOOOLD you she was clumsy, now she goes and falls off a five-storey building. No of COURSE it wasn’t depression, silly, it’s CLUMSINESS like I always said. We all know she was CHEERFUL but CLUMSY.” Every action that contradicts your summing up of a person will be instantly forgotten, because it’s unimportant.

I find, that people are full of surprises (both pleasant and unpleasant, I hasten to add.). Especially as they change (for the better or the worse) with years and experience . The same label can never cover the same person in different situations at different times. Those I would condemn as resoundingly stupid from their outlook and beliefs might turn out to be brilliant at their jobs. Those I think as gentle and wonderful will reveal an unaccountably vicious streak. People you think will pounce on you and kick you when you’re down sometimes turn out to be more understanding and supportive than the others you were counting on.

At the most you can, if you MUST, label a person like so: “she’s stupid, but only about things that matter to me. I daresay she thinks I’m stupid too because I don’t know what Vishnu’s fifth son was called.”

Somehow, that judgement lacks a certan something. It lacks the satisfying slap of a label stingingly and irrevocably delivered. And it leaves one confused. Shades of grey wherever one looks.

On second thoughts, bring on the labels. Atleast I’ll know how I’m expected to behave (clumsy but cheerful) and be able to deliver a stinging judgement on someone else when I’m irked.
If the option is chaos and murder; I choose labels.