Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I am not exactly your compulsive eavesdropper but there are times I just can't help listening in - either the conversation is way too interesting or the people too loud! 
Here are some interesting conversations I have had the "great fortune" of having heard and never have forgotten :D.

Let's start with the most recent one...
A group of 8-10 year olds playing near our patio:
White American boy 1: Girls are difficult to manage. They are rude. We won't play with them.
Black American boy 1: So you guys don't like girls?
All boys in unison: No, no, we like girls! 
White American boy 2: So, have you guys touched a girl.
Black American boy 2 is scandalized and cycles off!
Indian boy: No! I don't want to get girls pregnant!
Chinese girl (looks like I was not the only one eavesdropping): You boys are so dumb. Girls don't become pregnant by touching.
White American boy 2: Yes, and that makes me the only man among you all because I have touched a girl.
(Me: !!!)

Another one involving kids - this time two grade 6 girls...Overheard near my place in India...
Girl 1: What's your problem, why are you behaving like this?
Girl 2: You mind your own business. I don't want to play with you.
Girl 1: I think you have serious issues in life that you need to sort out!
(Me: Ouch!)

The last one with kids...And with that a mental note to myself: Never ever eavesdrop on children's conversations - respect their privacy plus whatever they have to say will scandalize you anyways! This one again in our neighborhood in India...A conversation between 6 year olds!
Girl 1: Do you like Boy 1?
Girl 2: Yes, he is like my boyfriend.
Girl 1: Oh, so will you marry him?
Girl 2: No! You can't marry your boyfriend. I will marry Boy 2. He is also nice.
(Me: And, how come we grown ups don't have such clarity in understanding of relationships :D)

I think I'll stop here. Maybe, I should do another post on the adults; though their conversations will be much less interesting. Let's see...

[Image source: Google Images]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What does religion mean to you?

I read and watch all this fanaticism, all this murderous outrage, people ready to die and kill - all in the name of religion; and I often wonder who are these people who get so deeply affected by what someone else has to comment about their religion. 

In today's growing cosmopolitan times, where you get to interact with so many people from different ethnic, racial, cultural and religious backgrounds who maybe your colleagues, neighbors, fellow travellers, classmates, how can such a vast majority of people not understand that irrespective of the religious, national, or whatever affiliation you may have there are good people and bad people everywhere. If one representative says or does something that hurts your sentiments, there is no point going out in arms against the entire community, killing so many innocents!

That is the big picture. Specifically, talking about religion, I personally find it very difficult to believe that someone can harbor so much hatred as to lash out at a religion in the most insensitive manner; I also find it equally difficult to believe that someone reacts to that hatred with equal animosity if not more. Who are these people? What does religion mean to them?

Honestly, speaking, I don't know if I am religious or not. Sure, I was born into a hindu family and celebrate the festivals, we have a temple at my parents' home that we used to pray at when we were told to. However,  we were not imparted any formal religious education. We were not told these are the strict confines of religion we must stay within or the rules we must adhere to. God and religion were mostly discussed in the context of being a good human being, being conscious of the right and the wrong, and doing the right. And that was how all the people and children around me were brought up!

In the recent years, religion has receded more in the background as far as my individual identity is concerned.  God is more a matter of personal faith...And I see that with most people in our generation. We all try to be the best we can, do the best we can, and we try to make a decent life; which brings me back to the recurrent question, so who are these violent religious people? What does religion mean to them? What does religion mean to you?

[Image source: Google Images]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chatty Strangers

I have nearly come to the conclusion that there is something in the way I look (I don't necessarily mean that in a self-complementing manner) that compels complete strangers or people that I meet for the very first time to indulge in really long and really intimate conversations with me. Maybe I have "Come talk to me, I am dying to have a conversation" stuck on my forehead or something, else can there really be so many chat starved people out there!

Oh no, I don't mean the pervs though, not the 'let's do friendship', neither the 'let's meet up for coffee' kind of guys, and absolutely not the fellow 'desis' who approach you in grocery stores and malls to further 'business networking', which is an idiotic euphemism for finding Amway sales scapegoats!

I mean genuinely normal everyday people.

The auto guy in Chennai who constantly spoke about the Tamil Nadu political scene in tamil even though he knew very well I don't understand the language. I could only grab names from the conversation and  few English words thrown here and there, but his enthusiasm was so remarkable that I nodded my head to an hour long (Chennai traffic :() session in gibberish (that was all it was to me) rather than rudely tell him to shut up!

The absolutely annoying 'aunty' at Abu Dhabi airport who insisted on clinging onto me as we were travelling the same route. She kept on divulging horrifying family secrets. By the end of the 3 hour stopover, I knew the salaries of most of her family members. She even asked me to watch over her handbag (including wallet et al.) while she attended the call from nature. Do I look that trustworthy?

And this is not just a cultural thing - in case you thought only we, Indians, were prone to such chatter. The fatherly french co-passenger on the aisle seat next to me, turned around to me and said, "You know what, you can tell me when you want to go to the loo, I'll get up. It has been almost 5 hours and you haven't taken a break. You must, you know. It's not good; plus you'll get to stretch your legs." I was absolutely in shock. He would put my mom, who insists on regular bio breaks so vehemently, to shame. The thing is, I hate moving around in a flight. I love being cooped up to my window seat, snugged in a blanket with the TV on. But, just to humor the old gentleman I did get up twice after that! Phew! And as you can guess, this was not the only conversation we had Notes were exchanged on cultures, movies, family values and what not!

I could list a trillion such incidents, but will stop at the latest one. The trucker we had hired to move our car from AZ to VA ended up having a detailed conversation on the institution of marriage. He had been recently divorced and asked me if I was married and if I was facing any troubles, or so far it was going the "for forever" way. I told him it looked alright for the time being (not a good day to ask when Vish had conveniently offloaded the car and the house movers' responsibility to me :D). He was like, "Next time, I marry, I don't care how the girl is; but it will be for "forever". In a marriage, it's always the guy's fault. Women do so much - they are not appreciated. Come what may, if a marriage is screwed, it is the guy to be blamed." What pearls of wisdom, I felt like telling him to wait till my hubby came home, so that he could further elaborate on his theory :P.

So, do I enjoy such conversations? Mostly not, even though I myself am the chatty kinds. But with absolute strangers, no, not really. My mom tells me that as a kid, I used to call out to random strangers from my balcony where I was perched up in the morning whilst my mom and dad got ready for work, and do a lot of talking. Infact, when I fell sick and was not around for 2-3 days, she had a string of "random" visitors, ringing the doorbell and inquiring after me. Payback time now, huh? 

You know the kind of chatty "meeting for the first time" people I like the most - doctors! I like my doctors to be talkative and have been fortunate enough to have such kind for most of my visits all these years. There has to be an exception though. At my in-laws place at Chennai, there was this 'kind of family' doctor (general physician) who you go to for general stuff - colds, fever, aches etc. He just wouldn't talk. Here's our visit: 
Me: Hello Doctor.
Doc: (Takes out his notepad) Name (Forget greeting, he didn't even smile!)?
Me: Yuvika, full name: Yuvika Chaube
Doc: Age?
Me: 27
Doc: Problem? (The dude wouldn't talk in complete sentences)
Me: I got up with a sore throat, have a lot of pain swallowing. Can hardly talk. I think it started last night. I haven't had anything cold though. I think I am slightly feverish.
Doc: Open your mouth. (He flashes the torch around and starts writing a prescription)
(I thought he'd eventually talk, but no, he hands over the prescription to me.)
Me: (Undeterred) So what's happened, is it an infection?
Doc: Yes, take these medicines
Me: What about any precautions? Why do you think it happened? Do you think it's some water borne infection.
Doc: It can be anything, it will be okay in 3 days.
Me: (Defeated in spirit, completely) Okay, thank you. Do I need to see you again?
Doc: (Very curtly) No.

I swear, I never went to the doc ever again! (Even though Vish insists maybe it was I who had 'intimidated 'the doctor :P)

So, what kind of chatty people do you like?

Friday, September 7, 2012

The last of the glorious 20s!

So this is it. There's no jackpot happening; nor is there a fortune awaiting to be accidentally chanced upon. Noble prize seems like an alternate reality, and being a prime minister/president doesn't figure on the horizon! 

Naah, not that I have really wanted any of the above...I mean I would like to believe if I really really wished for these, I would have tried working on it seriously, rather than make lazy wishes on an unmade bed! 

So, what is it? Well, I turned 29 this week, which basically leaves me with only one year before I hit the deadly, deadly number 30! I don't know if I feel older, but I have begun to wonder how long will the 18 till I die anthem offer consolation. Isn't there a magical optimism and effervescence, however misplaced it may seem, about being closer to 20 than 30! The paranoia starts right about when you turn 26 (read about my panic attack here), and only worsens as the candles on the cake increase. 

Trust me, I have already started reading through lists of things to do before you turn 30, and it's not helping! Most of them seem frivolous. Now, how does it matter if you have jumped off a plane or not?
As for the horror stories, 30s can't be all about expanding waistlines, receding hairlines, and budgets and bank balances, can they? Fortunately, I also hear assuring tales of more confident living and stable relationships. Sigh.
As to how my 30s will turn out, only time will tell (and there's not much left anyways before we find out - buaahhhhaaaa :( :(! I could have waited.

While I take my time to bid adieu to youth, as it were, and brace myself for true, true middle age, I would love to hear your take on the unseemly number, people call age!

[Image source: Google Images]


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