It has been one of those months. It has, in fact, been one of those years. I have travelled too much, and met too many people. I have been to several writing and acting workshops in several cities, several literary festivals in several countries, and made too many Facebook friends for my comfort. The only upside of such an aberration in my schedule, which is usually divided between classes in dance and music, writing, and sleeping, is that I have contrived to offend more people than I ever aspired to cut out of my life.
Here are five stellar moments:
“Have you read her book?”
When people ask me for feedback on their work, I know they are looking for help in dealing with their insecurities. Most insecurities are justified, and should ideally exist for the greater good of the greater number. I usually tend to find neutral praise, such as:
Q: “So, what did you think of my acting in the play?”
A: “It must have meant so much to you, this play. You have been in rehearsal for so long! It shows.”
However, when I’m paid to reinforce insecurities, I go the whole hog. Once I had to undergo the trauma of reading a cloying collection of clichés that had been bound into a work that aspired to magic realism. I wrote a review nasty enough to compensate for the three days which I had spent with the book. Unfortunately, I moved to the city where the writer lives, and have been running into the writer at nearly every literary event held in the city.
We have been introduced to each other at least seven times, and we pretend we have never met before
We have been introduced to each other at least seven times, and we pretend we have never met before. The facade died when someone asked me, the last time we were introduced, “So…have you read her book?”
“I think you guys will really get along…”
I’m not sure why, but a particular acquaintance of mine has been wanting me to fix her up with someone – anyone, really. She is under the (right) impression that I meet a lot of interesting people, and under the (wrong) impression that I might want to subject them to her company and body. However, I did sense an opportunity to get rid of her repeated requests when I met someone so obnoxious that I thought they may deserve each other. Yet, I had not bargained for her to reply to my email introduction with, “Uhh…this is awkward, but, actually, we used to go out five years ago.”
“I’ve spent a traumatic three hours with…”
I dislike the company of most people, but intensely dislike the company of people with loud voices. In fact, I dislike their company only marginally less than I do the company of people who interrupt. For years, I used to stop speaking when I was interrupted, partly because I had heard that that was the polite thing to do, and partly because I am even less articulate than usual once my thread of thought has been interrupted. And so, after spending an afternoon with a loud-voiced interrupter, I wrote out this text: “I’ve just spent an entire bloody afternoon wanting to shoot myself through the head, thanks to *insert name*. I’ve decided I’m not going to stop talking when someone interrupts, ever again. It is up to the listener to make an intelligent choice.” As things happened, the loud-voiced interrupter had so made an impression on my brain that I sent the text to him, instead of to the friend I had intended.
“Inge pakkathule irukkaale…”
Most people would understand as little of the above three words as you do. It is the beginning of a Tamil sentence, and Tamil is spoken in one state of India. Which is why it was a great idea to speak it in Paris, to the two people who understood it, when I wanted to make snide remarks. Which is also why it was a great idea to speak it in Hampi, to the two people who understood it, when a group of shrill women was getting on my nerves. And which is why it was not such a great idea to come back to my city after a month away, and speak it loudly in a coffee shop, when I wanted to bitch about people in the vicinity.
…this isn’t the worst thing I’ve done in the last year, and the world could do with a few pun-makers being told they are luxuriating in the lowest form of humour – well, hell, the lowest form of wordplay, which is the lowest form of humour – but when one says, “Hey…you’ll have to excuse me. I have to get out of here. It looks like that man is going to join us, and I can’t stand his stupid puns”, one would ideally want to avoid the interlocutor turning out to be the daughter of the subject.