Haven’t written on QTOL in a while, long enough for QTOL to be technically non-existent. But as I was telling Lakshmi QTOL is a space I write only when something comes to me. Not something for which I can make a timetable.
So just as life would have it, as I returned home on my first day of freedom (I just quit a full time job) life presented me with a QTOL moment!
I live at a chaotic street junction. The evenings on that road are usually jammed with traffic. As I stepped out of my taxi waiting to cross the street, in the middle of all the Bombay traffic flanked with taxis, the Hynudai Santro’s, the City Honda’s the Ford Icons, the Maruti Getz and the many more of those flashy and modern age cars out of nowhere a ‘bottle green’ antique car makes its way. (Since I am horrid with cars, don’t know what particular car this was) I only know it was bottle green with a long bonnet and a small square sitting arrangement.
As the car passed me I couldn’t but give a hearty laugh!
Right inside were 5 neatly packed ‘bawa’ men (Parsee). Dressed in their traditional white ‘Dugli’s’ and ‘Pagris’ (the traditional white shirt and cap dress). The car was being driven by the oldest of the lot may be over 75-80 years with a long flowing white beard. His front seat companion was a 30 odd gentleman clean-shaven. The back seat which would have otherwise fitted two was packed with three skinny gentleman, two 75 odd years and one again in his 30’s!
As I stood there with this car slowly passing me by in traffic it almost felt as though these guys had just zoomed down from Hogrwartz! Out of their school class in their uniform being dropped back home by their headmaster. The guy on the wheel looked like an exact replica of Dumbledore! And their Dugli’s though missing the flowy feeling of the magical robes definitely had a charm of their own! In that crazy moving traffic and the chaotic street corner these 5 gentlemen in their car definitely seemed to have landed from a wonderland setting a pace of their own to the world around them!
And suddenly in the midst of my surprised laughter I found one of the back seater’s looking straight at me. In that odd moment, for the fear of not offending them I turned away to continue my hearty laugh to myself! The laugh was definitely not a mocking one but that of sheer pleasure of seeing life at full swing!
A big cheers to those 5 men in the car. Hoping they have a great ride!
P.S: As I walked back home it struck me .Why is it that if you catch a random person laughing at you the first thought that would cross our minds is ‘they might be laughing at me mockingly’ and not that ‘they might be laughing at something that made them happy looking at me?’ and also may be that guy who caught me did not think that. But why would it cross my mind that he might feel offended?
Here’s hoping that more laughter gets interpreted as happy than offensive! hehe
And for all those have yet not met a Parsee (the Zorastrian community in India) please go out there in the search of one right away! They are by far one of the most amazingly entertaining set of people I have met so far! I am sure they are the only bunch of oldies I can find packed in an antique car in Dugli’s floating along Bombay traffic!
I migrated to the world of techies about a year ago, joining my husband in running our small software startup. Before this I worked in a happily “disconnected” environment with a million woes of technology that one could crib about.
Technology woes can be super magnified within the environs of those proclaimed to be “not for profit”. No, this isnt because “social workers” aren’t tech savvy – we surf the net, understand words like “server” and “trojan”, understand blogging and widgets, know what a bluetooth transfer is, understand how wifi works, are plugged into the iphone hype and the rest of the related blah. Rather this annoying jinx with technology is a result of the complicated measures that somehow seem to plague even the simplest of IT solutions in an NGO setup. For example in my previous job, we used Microsoft Exchange Server for email and (ahem) collaboration. Combined with strange connectivity and virus issues that seemed to be confined to the periphery of the organization along with troublesome server settings that seemed to magically change with every single breath, we did anything but “collaborate”.
Most of us were in a perpetual state of “where is this file” , “where is that folder” , “oh that mail dint come” and “all my mails are bouncing back”.
But the QTOL thing about being in such an environment is the fact that one can continue to resemble “humans of this age and time”. Yes, we could all afford to miss the bus of evolution resulting in ” the next generation of humans” and enjoy the bliss of “disconnectedness”.
The happily disconnected lot – surf, use the mobile and perhaps even blog – but they:
1. Do not open a million browser windows (with a zillion tabs within each)
2. Do not need maps for directions in India
3. Do not need something like Twitter to tell the world that they are bored, or super smart, or sleeping or yawning
4. Can do without reading their emails for a week and can stay off their IMs without falling into social isolation
5. Do not substitute Google with plain simple “hellos” and “business cards” in a social gathering
6. Do not get into depression because there is no internet or mobile connectivity
7. Do not need “a Second life”
There are several other such lovely traits of this happily disconnected lot – the fact is that they are so well connected to the presence of living forms through the traditional medium of “air” that they do not crave for the modern “connected” mediums like emails, IMs, tagging, scrapping, linking and the blah.
At a recent conference that I attented, face to face interaction dint seem to suffice and people wanted to get online on their super cool laptops (almost compulsively) to browse, even though listening could have given them the very same information. I swear I could see antennas growing out of their heads, so you can imagine their need to “connect” virtually with the mere whiff of the presence of such a network.
I am happy to say that in spite of being a part of a software startup, I am still miles away from growing an antenna. I blog because I love writing and its a free and convenient way to communicate what I write, I use IM largely to save on phone bills. I recently bought my mobile on the internet because it took me less than 10 minutes to do so, as against several tiring hours negotiating the crowd at UniverCell. More importantly I avoided the mental fatigue resulting from trying to choose between many many models with a zillion features presented by “as a rule I shall be unhelpful” salespeople.
Yet I am not hooked or addicted. I am not in love with the virtual connections and I can live without it.
My happiest moments continue to be random moments that crowd the monotony of life – like puris puffing into full sized balloons and bobbing on the surface the very first time I make them. And I’d exchange “a lifetime of connectivity” for the feel of a vast green virgin beach (minus the “meen fry”, “mulagai bajji” and “xxx chaat” of course).
I am proud to be still swimming in the bliss of “disconnectedness”!!
Trains journeys are always fascinating, especially when you are stuck in a three tier a/c compartment on an evening 5 hour journey. You can neither kill time by sleeping nor can you really kill time eating your meals. That leaves you stuck with 5 other people in your coach with no sound to distract you either. It’s at such times when it’s almost acceptable, that someone choosing to have a phone conversation within such silent confined spaces is almost volunteering to share their conversation with others. It’s no longer over hearing and impolite! 🙂
So of course, all of this comes with me being stuck in one such compartment! I was trying to kill time and that’s when I usually bump into the most amusing moments. So as I was fiddling with my book, trying to read something, my ears lead me on to something.
My fellow passenger about 30-35 years of age, was on the phone, and this is what I heard him say, “Beta appne mummy ka chocolate kyun le liya!” (Sweety why did u take away mommy’s chocolate! ) – in a tone which adults use to explain children things without wanting to scold them.
And I just smiled to myself! Wow! Now there was some role reversal happening here…
And then the second line…
“Usne aapko chocolate wapus kiya ki nahin?’ (Did he/she return you your chocolate?) – In an extremely concerned, caring tone.
Now how often do adults recognize that sometimes their fellow adults need that chocolate more than the kids! So what if children claim to have had the birth right over all the ‘fun’ things? Sometimes mothers need the chocolates as much or perhaps more than their kids!
Somehow that weirdly confined compartment did not let me put my thumbs up and my ‘Cheers!” to my fellow passenger but in my mind I smiled and was glad for what I overheard! And glad for him having given a boost to all the kids in us!
The unassuming gullible Mama (uncle) was traveling with his four year old nephew – their destination was a few hours away, and Nikhil was already getting restless. He was just into kindergarten and wanted to have some fun….what could possibly be a fun thing do on a train?
Just as his imagination started to run, a middle aged man in a black coat holding a bunch of papers appeared – it was time for the routine ticket checking. Just as Satish, the uncle supposedly “in-charge”, reached for the ticket in his pocket, Nikhil held Satish’s hand firmly. The kid pulled out a shaggy piece of paper from his pocket instead and handed it over to the Ticket Inspector. “Here’s our ticket.”
The Baffled Ticket Inspector said, “No no, this cant be the ticket. Please show me the real ticket”.
Nikhil, “No no, this is the ticket”
Ticket Inspector, losing his patience by now, “This is not a real ticket, I cannot accept this”
“No, this is the real ticket. Please take”. A volley of such no-no’s followed interrupted by some scuffling with Satish Mama and his requests for being allowed to fish out the real one from his pocket. But would this bored kid listen? Nikhil persisted with his argument, though finally within a couple of minutes the “real” Indian Railways ticket emerged.
Needless to say the Ticket Inspector moved on as quickly as possible rather relieved but still flustered.
Nikhil was smiling though. “I was just having some fun Mama” he said with a naughty glint in his eyes.
Conventional Logic says that people mature as they grow older – our emotional quotient graph supposedly moves upward with each passing day’s adventures giving us a bit of “gyaan”. But there are times when I wonder if this is an “upward” trend of the EQ graph or of the CQ graph (Complexity quotient graph).
Each passing day seems to make us more complex especially in day to day relationships – we become more prone to tact and diplomacy, more measured in our communication. Whereas as a child I remember having a very straightforward life, with direct relationships and simple communication – I did very well without the tools of diplomacy, arguments, tact, silence and elaborate logic. My social tools consisted of just plain truth and common sense – simple and beautiful.
A couple of incidents that took place when my brother was around five or six years old, show how straightforward social interactions can be with children.
We were new at this regular Delhi school, with regular teachers. My brother had never been an easy child for many teachers simply because he dint understand the language of authority. Complaints, cribs and regular notices were immediate defenses of teachers who lacked the competency to communicate with my brother. But this one particular time, one of the teachers decided that perhaps a visit to the Principal’s office would do the trick. “Maybe he’ll listen then”, she must have thought.
Unfortunately for her, the scene in the Principal’s office went something like this:
Principal: Raghavan, what have you been up to? Do you know why you have been brought here?
Raghavan: (puzzled) I don’t know. I have no business in the your office. I’m going back to my classes.
And before the two adults in the room could blink, he was gone – he’d scooted away to his classroom.
Needless to say I was called and questioned on behalf on my brother and a visit from my mother followed the subsequent morning. We all agreed that there was something fundamentally wrong with the way the teachers were dealing with my brother. After all being concerned with one’s own business is no crime!!
On another occasion, all kids of Class 2 were being punished for creating a ruckus between classes. My brother refused to take the punishment, he simply said, “I wasn’t making any noise, I wont take the punishment”.
On each of these occasions he was only stating simple truth, and he dint need to resort to any tact or silence.
What do you think? Do we grow more complicated in our social communication as we grow older? Do we perhaps pass over simple truth and common sense for complex social norms?