Careful Whispers Unmuted!!

Random musing and ranting of my current state of mind, or whatever catches my overworked imagination.. Read at your own risk... I am known to go on and on.....

Location: New Delhi, India

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Lets talk about Talking!!

I am always reminded that I talk too much! Always. Way back, during school, my esteemed teachers would wait for my voice box to rest before they could make some progress with the class inputs. My report cards would inevitable have the comment saying “good student but very talkative” or “needs to talk less and study more”!! My parents, somehow, never saw this as a problem and thought indignantly, that well we’d rather have a child who speaks a wee bit more than someone who is speech inhibited. I still remember during my 8th grade, when my voice broke and I had trouble speaking for a few days, our school had the most happy and beaming set of teachers one could find!!

Right through college and initial part of my work life, I continued exercising my vocal chord with complete indiscretion and gay abandon. My friends and colleagues were my usual audience, who suffered my verbal onslaught. Mind you, being blessed with a decent sense of humour, my chatter was not unbearable and boring, but in usual circumstances, too much in quantity. I would never find it difficult to make friends or be the life at any party or get-together. For the first half of such gathering I would have the entire crowd’s rapt attention, hanging on to everything that I uttered. However, an hour or so later I would get subtle and sometimes not so subtle signs that it was time I shut up and let someone else do the talking. Quite graciously, I ignored these indications and continued with what I thought was my right. Right to Speech!! I was (still am) the master at the art of providing unsolicited advices and suggestion to poor hapless mortals who chanced to come in my way. Playing agony uncle came naturally to me.

Seeing my inherent talent at verbal communication, my parents felt convinced that I would someday make a great lawyer, while there were other relatives who thought I should be a journalist or a news correspondent, or host a chat show etc etc. My teachers used to think I had a future in elocution, debate and the like. Most of my pals were convinced that politics and public speaking was an area where I would do exceedingly well, as I had the ability to wriggle out of seemingly tight spots by exercising my tongue with amazing ease.

I have heard the saying that opposites attract, but in my case, I fell in love and married a wonderful woman, who matched me word to word in the speech department! Now imagine what a normal day in my house sounds like. T.V. blaring in one corner, my one year old toddler (with inherited superactive speech genes) babbling away non-stop and the proud mama and papa engaged in a never ending talkathon!

Well, 16 years after passing out of school; leaving behind much relieved set of teachers, today I find myself working as an Assistant Professor in an undergraduate programme with a U.K. based University. A profession where I earn my bread and butter by my incessant chatter to an captive audience of 60 odd teenagers !! Providence!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Things people say!!

It all began when I was at this groovy party .Though I didn’t know too many people there and was a bit skeptical in going in the first place, I was actually in for a pleasant surprise. The place was most vibrant and the party full of life. Ethyl alcohol was flowing freely out of the various strategically positioned bars right into the nervous systems of the gyrating populace. The music was an adequate mix of sophisticated contemporary western and the rather crude, grotesque and slip-disc inducing hindi remix!! After a couple ( maybe more than a couple, who was counting)of concoctions of spirit with various dilutions, I quite inexplicable found myself on the jam packed dance floor doing my own version of a spastic dance with gay abandon to the tune of “kajra re” . I was really getting tipsy and silly and actually having a blast, when suddenly the host appears in front of me and asks ….. “ hey there, are you enjoying yourself?” “what does it look like to you?” I countered, still gyrating away.
It was only the next morning when I was nursing a strong hangover and reminiscing about the previous night that to my shock I realized that , that was the only statement I had spoken the whole night at the party!! A stupid answer to a very stupid question. Now that triggered off a thought wave leading to the topic of this blog.
Do we ever really pay attention to most of our day to day conversations, especially the queries that we are usually inundated with? Over the next few days I spent a lot of time carefully analyzing these various queries we ask and answer and realized that a huge percentage of them are completely inconsequential and embarrassingly nonsensical. Here are some classic examples that I have come across.. I have also suggested possible answers matching the intelligence level of the questions …..please feel free to add some more interesting examples of your own…

1.Parking lot at workplace: Every morning, without fail, I always come across someone or the other asking me… "aa gaye??” or “just arrived?”…Again at the same venue every evening after work hours…. “Going home?” Or “ So, are you leaving?”

Hell no… whatever made you think of that. I just enjoy the view here so I stand here every morning and evening watching people rush in and rush out.. Gives me some kinda spiritual release… you should join me and try it sometime.. it really works…

2.At the bus stop:… “ Waiting for the bus??” or better still “ Going somewhere?”

Oh no… you got it all wrong…I actually have developed an interesting hobby of memorizing bus registration numbers. It helps improve my concentration level”.

3.Smoking zone at work: Me standing there with a couple of like-viced buddies with lit cigarettes in our hands and smoke curling out of our mouth or nostrils (personal style statement)….. “ smoking?” with their eyes rolled up and face twisted in apparent disgust.

What!!! me smoke?? Never did that .. will never do that. Oh my God.. who stuck this disgusting, smoldering white thingy between my fingers.. and how the hell is smoke coming out of me…another one of those inexplicable things!!”

4.Hostel. You could walk around clad in a towel, carrying a bucket, soap and mug and moving towards the bathrooms…. “ Going for a shower?”
Does that offend you in any way? If it does, then my apologies”
“It is strange you should also ask me that. . .b’cos three others also asked me the very same thing. Do I really look like I am going for a shower??

5. Hospitals/healthcare: God forbid, if you ever have a fracture/surgery and is laid up in bed with a cast/stitches; you will have a majority of sympathetic visitors ( most of them glad it was you and not them) asking you… “ Does it hurt?”

What makes you think it does? The cast is actually quite enjoyable. It is like having an exoskeleton. Hopefully you will also get to enjoy these pleasurable moments some day!”

6. Home: After a particularly hard and long day at office when you come back home and just collapse in the living room couch or sofa panting for breath and struggling to keep your eyes open… and your ever concerned spouse…. “Tired darling?” (the “darling” bit or any other words of endearment might not always be there)

This needs to really tackled carefully, here is my suggestion..
If the spouse is wife then….just shut up and nod your head. Leave the wisecracks for someone else. At your own risk you could try saying things like… “yes honey..what I need right now is a stiff drink and maybe a real good massage, and/or….”

If the spouse if husband then… you can say whatever you feel like. The poor fellow with not utter a word, lest he also ends up tired and stressed.” Possible responses .. “you are either blind or a complete dumbhead? I am inclined to think the later… and don’t just stand there and gape at me …make yourself useful" etc etc

7.Any place: Whenever something nice happens to you like a promotion, or an achievement or birth of your first child… the most obvious and the most idiotic query is always … “ so how do you feel?”

“now that you’ve asked me this question, I feel so much better. These things happen to me ever so often that one waits for a thoughtful query like yours.”

8.Any place: As soon as you encounter any familiar face after a trip to the salon, you are bound to be asked…. “ you got a haircut, did you?”

well….. er….. actually…. I am suffering from a dreadful disease called Hair-Regress-Syndrome!!! Instead of growing my hair keeps getting shorter and shorter. It is actually a very rare condition.”

Well I could go on and on… there is so many such questions that one faces during the normal course of the day that we tend to take them as given and actually respond to it. Maybe one of the reasons why we are so bad at listening. So guys the next time you come across any such questions remember…they are to be enjoyed and not taken seriously.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Shaadi Syndrome!!!

The younger brother finally said yes! Yes, to get married, much to the glee of our entire fairly conservative family. Mother breathed a sigh of relief. She was tense.. the boy was almost nearing 30. (What is it about the age of 30 that puts so much pressure on everybody to get married? I dunno) Dad decided to take it on him, to completely make sure his son gets hooked on in the best possible manner to the best possible option. Talking of options…..that brings me to the topic of this blog.. Options….
The first thing one obviously asks when somebody agrees to walk down the alter…“Is there someone special that you have in mind”… “Nay”, said the brother. Another round of relieved sighs, followed by smiles. God forbid, had the answer been an “aye” then everybody around would have seriously considered that a socially deviant and incriminating behaviour. In this case… Option one eliminated! Phew!!
Option two: Relatives… This perhaps is the best utility for relatives.. Both far and near ones… For on an issue like this each one is an equally important resource. You never know which disagreeable relative, might come forth with the most agreeable matrimonial liaison. Who doesn’t want to bask in the glory of ‘the-person-responsible-for-getting-them-together’ glow! In fact I happen to know few of my relatives, who do this job exceptionally well. The only way to elevate their social standing in the family is, by getting the young’uns in the family hooked up.
Option three: Marriage brokers… This category loves to call themselves social workers! Committed to provide marital bliss!! (does something like that exist??) In the golden yesteryears, the affable “family barber” used to take over this responsibility, before this lucrative business evolved to become a highly skilled profession,,. The only acceptable way of showing gratitude to their service is by expanding their current account! They are usually take over the “i-am-important” mantle at any successful ventures and hog maximum video and photograph footage!!
Option four: Matrimonial Advertisements… this is a relatively recent phenomena. Newspapers woke up to realize the potential of the marriage market and decided to eliminate the middlemen ( like the ones mentioned in the above two categories) by devoting whole pages to matrimonial advertisements, all of which surprisingly sound alike.. “Tall, fair, slim, beautiful, homely girl…” or “Well settled, tall, fair, handsome boy with 6 figure salary ….” The extremely low conversion rate of this particular medium still didn’t stop my parents from scourging through ads after ads each Sunday… circling the ones that sounded suitable.... although for the life of me I couldn’t understand how they could distinguish one ad from the other in terms of differences!
Option Five: ….Community welfare societies… These are made up of a group of paranoid beings from a specific community who feels that intercommunity marriages would eventually make their own community extinct! Hence in order to protect the entire community from the endangered-species list; they undertake community matrimonial service. The medium used could be various like.. community magazines, community “swayamvars” etc etc… These self proclaimed watchdogs of the particular community more often than not ends up creating marital discord than harmony.
Option six: The magic of the Internet::.. Matrimonial websites..think of a term associated with wedding and you are likely to find websites of the same,,,,,,,,…..etc etc. The list is endless. This particular medium does seem to hold some water.. b’cos here one actually sees the prospective grooms and brides with their contacts and pictures and in some cases even videos available!! Ahem !

After about three months of juggling around with various options and innumerable interactions with prospective girls.. My brother, (still very much single) is waiting for lightening to strike!! Did I hear somebody say marriages are made in heaven!!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Got the flu. I think they call it Influenza or something equally big and scary for the common cold that my life seems to be peppered with. I can’t remember going through one season to the next without having caught the irritable nose-runs and cough routine. Maybe it is my weak constitution or my seemingly utter disregard for “proper” clothing. Now how does one ascertain that the summers are over today and the winters start from tomorrow??<<<< Hence I need to get into layers and layers of woolens from tomorrow onwards!!!
Anyway what is interesting to note that people around your always have ‘tried and tested sure shot ways’ to combat and destroy the problem. “Take my advice and you will be as good as new tomorrow” said one of my learned friends. I have my own reservations about that particular proverb and its usage.. However, I did make an effort to hear him out.

" The problem is "...he continued like any sensible person to first explore the reason and then provide the remedy, " have switched to bathing in warm water too quickly. The temperature is still between 10-15 degrees, which does not require warm water showers. Anyway what you need to do now is......" I barely heard him out and showing greatest restraint, resisted the urge to punch the living daylights out of him.I wanted to tell him that being forced to use cold water on my ass every morning was bad enough( the geyser does not warm the bidet faucet)
Another highly learned aunt of mine questioned my dietary intake with the view of changed weather, citing that as the real reason. My mother-in-law suggested a spoon ful of Chawanprash as the perfect antidote. My boss suggested that i should come out of my bathroom fully clothed rather than just a towel around my lower torso . He also suggested, knowing my soft corner for potent beverages, that a nice shot of hot brandy would cure me instantly.My colleagues at work (with whom i play Table Tennis everyday), suggested that two hours of rigorous games would sweat out all the germs from my body.
After all this, now i do wear all the woolens i can find, completely changed my shower routine and come out of the shower completely clothed, got a new diet regime going, bought a bottle of chawanprash, even tried a couple of shot of scotch ( didn't have brandy you see!!). In spite of all this i still sleep in the guest room with a couple of packs of paper tissues with a every heavily running nose and coughing away like an old tractor that has outlived its utility.

Monday, November 14, 2005


there is nothing special about the day,” I thought to myself, as I sat on the plush sofa of the hospital lobby, looking out at the beautifully landscaped lawns. A lone, disinterested gardener was trimming the bright green grass, braving the early morning sun. Yet, I knew, this was the day, the big day! The most special day ever! The day we’ve been waiting for. Nine months of anticipation, a long cherished dream, hopes, joy , pride, all culminating today, or so I hoped, desperately, as I said one silent prayer after another.
My mind was a tumultuous whirlpool of emotions; apprehension, fear, euphoria, ecstasy, all rolled into one. I did not know what to think or how to react. I was nervous, never more so in my life. Nervous.
I sat absolutely still, outwardly calm, the face be-lying the storm that raged within. I looked around, seated next to me was my equally calm looking father-in-law, immersed in a day old newspaper. I knew he was also far from calm. My mom-in-law was comparatively more expressive. Even a casual observer could have easily discerned the ever-so-faint worry lines on her face, the slight twitch of her brows, the darting eyes and biting lips. All tell-tale signs of anxiety.
I could hear my heart pounding in my ribcage, so loud that I looked up at other anonymous faces seated around us. Surely it could be heard. As I looked from one impassive face to other, I wondered if they are all also as calm as they seemed.
I finally shifted my gaze to the shut door. I knew she was inside there somewhere. I could feel exactly what she must be going through. I tried to shut my mind, forcing myself not to think of it, of her. The more I tried, the more I failed. I felt completely helpless. I wished I could be with her. Or at least be somewhere, where she could see me or maybe I could see her. I wanted to hold her hand, reassure her, comfort her, see her through the whole process, take away a little part of what, I knew, she would have to go through. Alone!
Doctors and nurses went in and out of that door. Brisk walk, grim expressions seemed to be everywhere. Hardly any good to my already worried self. Every time the door opened and somebody walked out, my piercing gaze would immediately fix on that face, looking for the smallest smile, a tiny little hint that would assure me that all was well. Any form of reassurance that was what I was seeking so desperately. I knew it won’t be long now. She had been there for almost half an hour already. It could be any minute now. I broke out in cold sweat. I turned around and tried to start a conversation with my father-in-law, who seemed to be a little better off than me. Completely inane talk, absolutely irrelevant and thoroughly dwarfed by the moment.
The sudden ringing of my cell phone broke the deafening silence all around me. I took it out of my pocket, ridden with guilt, for having broken the sanctum of the surrounding. A little irritated at not putting it on silent mode, I picked up the call as I moved away from the waiting area, not even bothering, in haste, to check the number.
“Honey, it a baby boy! A baby boy” she cried right into my ears. For what seemed like an eternity I was frozen, like the proverbial hare caught under the glare of strong headlights. It took a mammoth effort to intake air into my lungs at that point. My vision blurred with overflowing droplets of pure joy! … “I held him, kissed him … they have now taken him to clean him up. I am calling from the anesthetist’s phone, ..i can’t actually believe..”… she continued. I was barely listening anymore. I stood there transfixed, trying to ingest and digest what my ears had heard but my brain refused to react. I didn’t realise the tears that ran down my cheeks, until someone put a hand on my shoulders asking if everything was alright. Of course everything was alright, in fact things couldn’t have been better, I screamed. In that instant I felt a huge surge of energy, exhilaration ecstasy… I was not too sure what. I jumped up into the air, doing what can be best described as a spastic dance, screaming some incoherent gibberish, as I rushed towards my father-in-law and mom-in-law. I hugged them both, while struggling with words to tell them the news.
It was at that moment that the nurse came out with a tiny little bundle of flaying hands and legs, calling out my name loudly. As soon as I identified myself she gave him to me. Gingerly I held him, and as I stared into the most angelic face that I have ever seen, I learnt at that moment the true meaning of a very important word that we all use indiscrimately, but it takes an experience like the one mentioned above to truly understand it. The word of course :