Mis-Communication

Relationships are tough in the best of times. Add busy work lives, different temperaments and quarter-life crisis to it and the picture never looks pretty. And now there is also the problem of too many ways of communication that just confuses things.

I was accused recently by a friend of mine of contacting him only when I wanted something. It hurts… particularly when the friend is a close friend. I know the background of the statement and that he would probably forget he said that and be perfectly okay in a few hours. But the first reaction is temper… and wanting to prove that the statement is not true.

I randomly sifted through some previous conversations in my mind. Times when there were random coffees and conversations… the kind of conversations that there is no record of. Ironically, the one conversation that is on record is where he does not believe me when I say I just pinged to say hi and see how he was doing. He didn’t believe that people did that.

Strangely, most people don’t. Facebook and cellphones, SMS, emails and Blackberry messages have made it so that we can convey what needs to be conveyed in a few words and there is no space for embarrassment generally in those few words. “Hey can you get me this?” or “Can you do this” is generally the message and there is no space for concern and niceties. People don’t take it the wrong way if you just send someone an email on Facebook and say that you want something. Unfortunately, that also means there are fewer of those ‘what u upto’ mails.

For personal conversations, I actually prefer the phone. Or lengthy emails, when I’m broke. I’m used to having friends across the globe and every once in a month, despite busy schedules there is always a ‘oh shit i’m sorry i forgot to mail’ calls or messages. And that generally suffices because you know the person thinks of you.

I try hard not to fall into the trap of non-communication with friends. It is really easy to do that. You see feeds on Facebook everyday and seeing the name everyday makes you think you are in touch. Which is why is rankles when someone makes such a statement. I am selfish, bitchy, impatient and a lot of other things that are probably not politically correct. But when I’m wrong, I accept it. And when I’m unfairly accused, I also hate it.

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Add Friend: Mom

I came online today to write about this important topic – Parents on Facebook. And I see that someone actually beat me to it and it has even been picked as the top posts of the day.

I guess that just shows how weirder it is getting to have your parents on Facebook and other such sites. My mom isn’t one for internet and such things and definitely would not waste time on Facebook. She actually remembers to call people now and then and ‘keep in touch’. But recently, a friend’s mother added me on Facebook. Followed by her dad. And I my mouse hovered in between ‘confirm’ and ‘not now’ while I wondered about the repercussions of adding the parents.

It isn’t only bosses that you have to be aware of now. Parents are worse. Because if you block your boss from seeing all your feeds, he probably won’t ask you why. But parents ask you why they can’t see anything about you when you spend hours in front of that site. Which means, now every single photo, status message and link needs to be vetted, along with the comments.

Of course, it is a little worse with Indian parents. Even though many of them would rarely use their accounts, they hound their adult children to add them. And then they say “it is okay if you have girls/guys as friends and their photos. We are very open-minded” and the bizarreness of this statement never even occurs to them. They do not even realize that it isn’t ‘open-minded’ but is quite normal to have such friends.

Indian parents like to keep tabs on their kids long after they have stepped into adulthood. And with sites like Facebook, they sometimes get more than what they can chew.

And I definitely wouldn’t want any family member snooping around my account… even if it is as banal as I’m at some club. Of course, the chances are that I would’ve ditched some family thing and was at the club.

But how exactly does one react to these friend requests?

Randomness

Random things that have been in my mind:

* I woke up yesterday morning and realised that a really close friend was flying out that morning, and not that night as I had thought. I had hoped for a chance at ‘one last conversation’ though I had no idea what I would say. I mean… she is another country but then most of my close friends are scattered across continents. We did have that ‘one last hang out’ session and more a while ago… and I slowly realised that whatever I would have spoken would’ve been banal, everyday things. Which I would continue to speak much later as well. With Facebook, Skype and all those other things, staying in touch is just a matter of wanting to be in touch right now. For most part.

* Childhood and innocence still exists and is delightful to watch. I was at a kid’s birthday party today… and it included a magic show. A little before it was to begin, one of the kids was seen crying quietly in the back. Adults suddenly got worried and grouped around him asking what happened. In between horrible hiccups, he said he was scared that the magician would turn him into a rabbit. Someone – an adult, obviously – had told him that because he hadn’t done his homework or was rude to someone or some such thing, the magician would turn him into a rabbit. And the kid believed it. It feels like a long time ago that I was a child and gullible. Actually, I rarely remember being like that though I’m sure I was. I was… I fell for some horrible stories that people told me. But that absolute trust in people, that I would trust whatever they would say, is something that has been missing for so long.

And it took that child to remind me about those lost days of innocence. I miss it… I miss the complete trust, the joy and the innocence of summer which meant cold lemonade, hot days which were spent plotting in the shade but outside the house, making up stories and freedom. Swings, slides and merry-go-rounds… scabbed knees and dirty fingernails. And most of all, the ease with which we believed what people said.

I guess that is why I was annoyed when the magician, when she started, was cracking quite adult jokes that went over the head of 5-year old kids and the ones she did crack about men and women with ‘i love yous’ and all that, were just so typical and so reinforcing of bad stereotypes.

* What on earth is it with guys who assume a female photographer in a club is fair game while the male photographers can take photos without making conversation or any of that hassle? Or is it just my style? Are there any other female photographers reading me? Please temme about your experiences!

* Enrique’s new single!!! Tonight I’m Loving You!!!!

Sigh… in love with Enrique alllllllll over again. Is there anyone else as yummylicious as him?

 

My Two New Friends

I met two new girls yesterday. They were sitting on the stairway and painting their backpacks.

One was named E and the other one was also named E, but said like Y. They were 12.

The most interesting conversation I had in months was with these two girls. It is easy to hit it off with kids. I smiled when I saw them sitting on the stoop, decorating their backpacks. Y had already done her bag and was helping E to do hers. They were writing E’s name in fancy letters, filling it in with sparkly colours. Except the bag was black and it was quite hard to see anything written on it.

I smiled as I walked past them, thinking about the time when I tried to decorate my black backpack. I used a whitener to write what I thought were rebellious, deep quotes on the bag. And drew a “peace” symbol as well for the heck of it. I was 16.

Waiting for a friend to call me, I hung around watching them till they introduced themselves. I squatted on the floor with them, trying to figure out the best way to get the glitter to stick.

“Paint glue and pour glitter on it,” I suggested and they both instantly took to the idea. Except the had only a glitter pen and the packet of glitter was in E’s sister’s room. The 14-year old sister who wouldn’t appreciate the brat stealing her precious glitter. Oh to be 12 and 14 again!!!

As we spoke, E squeezed the tube of paint to hard and it fell on her skirt.

“FFFFish!” she said. For a moment, I expected the other F word to come out of her mouth and realized it was pleasantly cute to realize that kids still used Fish. Fish is good. Fish is fun. Fish is kids.

Girls being girls… they liked my earrings and my shoes. And my phone.

“I thought of buying this phone actually, when I needed to upgrade to my third phone but then I went with something else,” E said.

I stared at her dumbfounded. My precious phone. Which cost 20 grand. That I was reluctant to part. I mean 20 fricking grand!!! And here is this 12-year old brat who casually is talking about how she wanted my phone and the features in it, better than I could’ve known. Will these kids be born with electronic chips in their heads next?

They spoke about Halloween and weekend plans. E’s parents were taking her away for the weekend for a trekking thing. Y was annoyed. “I hate you and I hate your parents, no offence,” she said.

Of course, E was a city girl and hated trekking and the mosquitos and all that. Having just returned from an awesome trek myself, Y and me bonded. And E was curious enough to give it a real shot this time. Glad to have helped, aunty.

They even knew about my college. “That is the coolest college ever!” they both said, adding that they had cousins who attended there.

Good to know that I’m still among the cool crowd.

12 year olds. Wow.

Link of the day: Actually a photo

 

Old Friends, Old photos and Sitcoms

A tummy full of good pasta (finally!). An evening spent browsing photos and paintings. And then whiled away in a coffee shop, just chatting with old friends.

What is it about old friends that is simply so… refreshing. I actually cannot find the exact word for the ease I feel… while talking to them, or even the silence shared. Perhaps I have been around the others too long and had forgotten how it really can be. No efforts at conversation, no need to say anything and yet so much to talk about. And the ease with which you pull each other’s legs.

There have been many that are close to me… some still are and some have just wandered away. But there are only a handful with whom I never have to worry about opinions, judgements, upsetting them, ego clashes and one-upping the other. It could be simply from the fact that these are nice people. And I don’t say that because they are my friends. But they are generally not spiteful, the sort that back stab you.

Of course there are other good friends. But there is a slight disconnect, a slight difference of opinion.

After having lost friends to various things at the age of 25, I have learnt to cherish relationships. I know the effort it goes into maintaining a lot of them… but as they say, the best things do come easy. There aren’t complaints if I do not call them for a week. They call me. That isn’t an ego thing.

Or maybe just the confidence of knowing where you stand with someone. That is what lacks in most of my newer relationships… the fear of crossing a boundary. Of saying something that is probably politically uncorrect about them, even if it is true. Or of calling them too much or too little. Or of them misunderstanding your intentions – particularly in the case of a guy.

That perhaps bleeds over into my other relationships. Appear nonchalant… don’t give them too much importance… don’t call them too often… who makes up these rules? Rather stupid, aren’t they, when we are all looking at the same thing? It happens if it does. If it doesn’t… well…

***

I found a bunch of old albums – from the days before digicams – yesterday. College snaps. Ethnic day… the days when we had some extra exposures to finish… trips… oh how we have changed! Fatter, sleeker (I like to think), shinier, polished… and as… immature as we ever were. Perhaps some of us are slightly wiser but when you meet those old friends sometimes, you revert to the person you were then, along with all the… miseries and inconsistencies.

But those photos made me smile… even as I looked at myself and laughed. Oversized t-shirt on my skinny frame. French beards that were the trend on the guys. Horrible attempts to wear a sari (at least for me. Every other girl friend I had least had bodies made for saris and managed to carry them off with elan. I didn’t even own a blouse… didn’t see a point in getting one stitched for the once-a-year-event, so I wore my mom’s blouses altered. My mother does have an excellent selection of saris. But what looked beautiful and elegant on her, looked like… well, a 12-year old wrapped in a 9-yard cloth on me) My hair was super frizzy because I hadn’t yet discovered products to tame them into shape yet. I looked like a kid and perhaps, despite my know-it-all attitude, I was one.

I feel a lot more sober at 25… and older, wiser… too old sometimes. Perhaps that is why we drink… to experience the madness of youth again.

Oh I’m getting maudlin!

But it was fun going through those photos and trying to put names to some of the people in it. How could I have forgotten people in 5 short years?! *Slap*

Ironically, I ran into someone I had met in college. I had done an article on him for the college newsletter… and though his company was barely getting started then, it is a fairly well-established and known deal now. I didn’t expect him to remember me… I met him maybe a couple of times or  more. But he did. “It is a unique name,” he said when I was surprised.

It is. I am, too. But I still am surprised he would remember.

***

I pulled out my Sex N The City cds today. Remembered I had them when I was hunting for something (now that I think of it… I didn’t even find what I was looking for!). So I grabbed the first cd that came to hand and played it. After watching the movies, I am sort of turned off the whole sitcom. I used to rave about it earlier. Their dating escapades and gyaan seemed so relevant to what happened to me that particular day. But then… I got jaded.

But I played it again today… and it was about Carrie beaking up with someone and dealing with the aftermath. There it was… the rules about breaking up, the way of dealing it with.

“You take exactly half the time you were with someone to get over them. And then you repeat everything you hated about them over and over again in your head,” Charlotte says.

No no… I’m over the boy. But it definitely took longer than half the time. And I tried hard to repeat everything I hated about him but that didn’t really work for me. And the first meeting… awkward? No? I don’t know… I guess I expected to run into him a lot more often given our hanging out places were the same. I was constantly braced those first few days. Weeks. And then… it fades.

I do wish I were in touch. Friends. The whole disconnect is bizzare. But whatever…

The women do look jaded and I haven’t gotten to loving Carrie anymore. But it did make me realise I didn’t do any of the traditional break up things… no tubs of icecream, no rebound guy, no tons of shopping. Funny how things go on.

Photo of the day:

Lab Bokeh, originally uploaded by Jagdey.


Growing apart

Sometimes, it is possible to grow out of people.

The sounds of my past blew by today. And for a minute, I froze, wondering if I could and would handle all this or if I would be throw back into the mix again. Then I realised that I could listen without going back… but things kept happening and I found myself – physically – at one of our old hangouts. The place looks pretty much the same. Maybe a little brighter without the clouds of smoke screening everything. The walls are covered with paintings of music legends and posters… everything from Hendrix to David Bowie. The music is always a little too loud but excellent classics. The beer can be a little flat and you aren’t quite sure if you’ll always get what you order for food… but it was our hangout in college.

But as I sat there I realised it is possible to have an affection for something and yet be really detached. I did not feel left out… I had accepted that I would never know certain things and perhaps never be a part of certain jokes. What did surprise me was the distance between me and who used to be one of my closest friends. The seeds of resentment were there… when I accidentally said something and it came out sounding a lot stronger than I intended it to.

Ironically, it was this same friend who said half as a joke that people grow apart. Today, I think that people outgrow each other more than grow apart. Which is why there is still the affection but none of the demands that existed earlier. The expectation to call, the expectations to meet up, the need to catch up and keep each other posted about whatever is happening.

I realised these people, including the best friend, did not really know me. I cannot recall the last time I met up with him or had a heart-to-heart. And the things I have done since then and the things I believe in have changed so  much.

Is it sad? That someone who knew me so well barely touches the surface now? The small things… how I smoke, how I drive… things which people I met two weeks ago are familiar with and these people aren’t. Perhaps it is. But we chose this way… or these ways.

Ironically, the reasons for which we chose this way – or the path he picked – no longer exist. Sort of makes it seem silly now. But there you go… we made those choices and I guess we are sticking to it now.

We do grow out of some people.

Photo of the day:

The Race

My mind goes back to 2007… July and August were hectic days then too. I had just graduated and there was the graduation ceremony to attend. So had all my friends, so there was the party to plan. It was frantic because it was almost time to go home after being away for more than a year and a half.

It was summer. The days were long and the beach was right there. There were no more assignments and the rush of the university. Only the fun of knowing people were free and partying. And working. Late nights at the restaurant, with tourists filling it every night. Funny people, stupid people, clever people, gorgeous people. Guys you wanted to date and wouldn’t ask you out and the ones that did whom you didn’t want to go out with. Shopping for a “graduation dress” and wondering what else you could do to while away time.

Partying till wee hours in the morning, knowing you could sleep late. I had just met someone and it was fun and exciting and absolutely comfortable. It was perhaps the most idyllic time of my life that I enjoyed.

3 years later, it is a shock how much has changed. I know I have written so often about this but every year, I begin thinking about this stuff. So many people are married and many more are on their way to be married. Actually, forget the marriage race, now it is the ‘having a baby’ craze. Which means I can safely drop out of the whole thing because there is no way I can catch up, if I wanted to.

I guess life can be simple that way.

Recently, a friend was planning a party for her 3-year old kid. It was the first major party… and she was going a little crazy. “What do I do?” she asked me. I was a little confused… it was fairly simple right? Get the cake, give a shout to all the surrounding bacchas… who would already be waiting because they saw you get the cake out of the car, buy those party balloons, some caps, put on the music and you are done.

But apparently, it is a little more complicated than that. Which I realised only when another friend offered to help. This one just had a similar party for her kid so she knew what was involved.

That was when I felt a little out of touch. Yeah, I still don’t see what the fuss is. I mean… fine, even if you have to invite every friend you have… call up the caterers, book a hall and the rest follows. And with thoughts like these I wonder if I will ever be cut out for such a life… I would like to do it. Oh yes! I already have the party plan in mind… but am I cut out for it.

I guess I am the slow bloomer… when my friends are planning birthday parties, i’m thinking of a steady relationship. It follows the natural course… when they were drooling over guys, I was still rolling my eyes at my best friend – who happened to be the object of their affection.

Indian movies perhaps ruined us a little bit… all those stories about how a boy meets a girl on the road/in the bus/across a room/in the classroom/on the cricket field/in a fight… the girl says no, the guy pursues and she eventually gives in and gets married. And then she becomes boring. So people thought life follows the same track. Guys didn’t think twice about approaching a girl they thought was pretty, or sending “frandship requests” to random women. And while I was laughing about these idiots, I realise the girls right next to me are reciprocating.

When did I miss the booklet passed around about how to respond to such guys? Or I got the wrong one.

So some of them dated, some of them broke up… and I was still in the phase of thinking “bbbut… he’s some random guy off the street! (and he aint cute and he stinks)”

So I missed that bus. And because most of the people I knew got onto that, our worlds just split into areas complex than the bermuda triangle.

I guess what I’m really trying to figure out is what race am I running? Am I in a race? Who makes up these things?