I just realized that all day everyday people are telling me things I don't need to know. "My feet hurt!", "It's my mother's birthday today" and "I'm reading a good book" are classic examples. Agreed, when two people meet they have to say something to each other, but there are more worthwhile things that can be said. But no, people persist in feeding me useless trivia. I still haven't figured out why anyone would think it was of great interest to me just where exactly in Gujarat his family village is. I just can't escape it.
At a party, for example, I am often introduced to a person, and then left alone with them for a while. At once my brain sends me warning signals, repeating the word "Run!" But being an optimist, I hope that the person might just have something worthwhile to say. No such luck, the conversation invariably starts off on a bad note. "So…you're John's friend?” - John being the person who just introduced the two of us. "No," I feel like saying, "I'm his 85 year old transvestite aunt who enjoys dressing up like a man at parties." But I settle for a "Yeah, that's right!" Apparently somewhere in my three-word response I gave the guy permission to bore me. He takes the opportunity to feed me with useless information. "John and I go back a long way. We met when he was doing backstage for a play I was acting in. I was playing the part of Romeo. Actually how I got the part is quite a funny story. What happened is that my mother's third-cousin, who happens to be dyslexic, wanted a pet cat. So she went to the pet shop, which is at Kemp's Corner, you know, where you take the U-turn to go to Chowpatty, and she asked the shopkeeper, a large fellow with a walrus mustache, if he…." By this time I've lost all hope of gleaning any sort of worth from this person. I resist the temptation to punch the person in the face, and excuse myself. "Sorry, but I must go to the bathroom." I add intricate details of what I want to do there just for revenge. Worse still is the type of person seen in the following 'true incident'. This kind of person keeps clarifying everything; they'll say everything in 3 different ways. It gets very irritating and makes you wonder whether they consider you some sort of uncomprehending imbecile. For easy reading I'll do away with the inverted commas and write this in script format. Let's call the other person K, even though his real name is P. Let's call me A, for no reason at all.
K- Hey, how's your essay writing going, man? The ones that you keep showing-off to every available person in the planet flaunting your notebook. I didn’t mean the sketch book you used to carry, the new lap top is what I meant. I mean the Compaq M2021.
A- Oh, is that what it is? I was wondering why I couldn't turn the page!
K- It's called Psychoneurotic Xplorations, right? Your essays, I mean.
A- No! No! You've got it wrong. My name is Psychoneurotic Xplorations. The column is called Aditya.
K- Huh? Oh, that's a joke! Ha! Ha! You are a funny guy! As in, your jokes are good.
A- Oh, my jokes are funny? I thought you were laughing at my squint eyes and pronounced limp.
K- By the way, when are you coming over? Home, I mean. As in, my house. (By this time I just couldn't resist messing with him.)
A- My house?
K- No! No! My house.
A- What about your house?
K- When are you coming over?
A- Over what?
K- Huh? What I mean is when are you coming home?
A- I told my mom I'd be home by 3 o' clock. What's it to you?
K- No, I mean my home! My house! When are you coming to my house?
A- Oh, that way! I'll be there by about 6:30. Why can't you ever say things clearly?
I still have a bruise where he punched me, but I think he learned his lesson. And it isn't just people. Even the things I use in day to day life are out to fill my brain with worthless bits of trivia. My ketchup bottle gives me a detailed account of how its contents were made from the finest tomatoes, hand picked and machine-polished, and takes me through the entire manufacturing process. Hey, just tell me how to start the ketchup flowing when the bottle is clogged up! If they must write something in the 3 inches of space on the back of a potato chip packet, why can't they tell me how to open it without sending half the chips flying. I really don't need to know the exact address of where the chips were made! Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Now I make everyone who wants to talk to me fill out a detailed form in triplicate explaining why they wish to speak with me, the gist of what they want to say, and what is in it for me, along with a passport size photo. I then assess the chances of being smothered in worthless information, and give them my verdict. A lot of people fell short of reaching the no-nonsense mark. Family and friends included. Now my only companions are a deaf-mute from Pune and a Buddhist monk who has taken a vow of silence. They're not much fun on Karaoke nights, but believe me; it's worth it!