Story of a lost journalist

December 3, 2016

Darling Details

Filed under: Daily Rot — Cris @ 02:25

Watching the bits of his hair below the helmet, she thought, I am watching this now. Like the back bencher watching the front row head, and the details of it – the worn out ribbons and the threads hanging lose, the number of locks on the plaits, the curvy parting. But this was a bike, and there was a helmet. So it was pretty much that little tuft left to watch. There was once a different tuft, tied into a little pony tail that she was afraid would disappear any minute. And then she wanted to show off that pony tail. She wanted an ex to pass them by and watch her watching the pony tail. She didn’t understand why it was something to show off, but she was sure it would work. It would make the ex regret. Regret what, she didn’t think. Thoughts were halted like that. Where it is comforting. After that it was not fun. Why would people need realities when they had the power to think, to imagine however they wanted things to be. Men to be. They could be there, passing you by, regretting. They could be here, in front of you, wearing ponytails below helmets.

Stepping down, she forgot all she thought. It was now another place, another time. A hand was moving across a table and forgotten coffees. Two last fingers waving two silver rings. Big ones like the ones on a sitcom she watched. There was talking but the fingers and their rings just wouldn’t stop moving. It was beautiful, it was like dancing without having to know the mudras. Details can be so beautiful sometimes. Like that tuft of hair, here was a ring on a finger lifting her spirits downed by grave reasons. Reasons like lost time and wasted life. It was sad she wouldn’t remember the pony tail or the ringed finger when she went to sleep. If only someone could leave a light on and show her a detail in the night. One that wouldn’t scare her. And then the clock ticked and the fan hissed. And she could sleep.

November 24, 2016

Understanding women

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 01:25

It is true what they say. What men say. Women are hard to understand. I know cause I am one and if I stepped out of me and tried to look at me and understand me, I wouldn’t.

I will tell you why.

Women find it easier to be indirect in their ways somehow. It is not a ploy. It is not deliberate. It is somehow the natural course. So when we want something, we don’t think of saying we want something. Especially if there is a man, we think they should get it on their own that we want something. They should understand it because of something we said about in the distant past, should remember it and do the needful. I know.

Ok, this becomes easier to tell with solid examples. I once fought with a fellow cause he didn’t call me to watch a movie with him – even though it was a movie I didn’t want to see. My argument was that he had to still call and see if I wanted to come. Here, if I step out like I said before and looked at my reasoning, I won’t get it.

In a conversation we may go on saying things that are not real and the poor men will go on thinking we mean all that and the poor us will go on hoping they get what we are not saying. (Classic example was shown in a movie when the girlfriend declares she doesn’t want a birthday gift, the boyfriend believes her and gets none, and she is hurt he didn’t get it that because of her being so nice as to not want a gift he should have gotten something really special. He gets dumped of course.)

Now I am finding it hard to understand why we do this. Why should we constantly want us to worry about things that aren’t even real. Creating issues, imagining them – all of that, I repeat, without the least bit of intention. Subconsciously I wonder if deep down we like trouble. Maybe we don’t like peace. We want disturbances. Turbulence. Shakiness. So if we can’t find them today, we will dig up the past and find an old forgotten day when something was wrong. And fight about it all over again like it’s new.

I envy men. How nice it must be to be so simple all the time. “I want tea” means I want tea. Not “I actually want coffee but I am testing to see if you remember that”. Or any such complicated thought.

I believe I am lucky to have got a little bit of a man in me after all. Cause I have found myself not understanding women and even men friends sometimes when they are not direct. I don’t get clues. Things have to be stated to me, plainly. Or can never imagine double/ hidden meanings for any words or actions of anyone. But then, they say there is a fine line between being a man and being stupid. I mean being simple and being stupid.

Disclaimer: By women, I don’t mean all women. By men, I do mean all men.

October 20, 2016

Being an idealist

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 02:32

When arguments break out at the office – as offices are supposed to function – I end up getting this one label at the end of it all – idealist. The world I talk of and the arguments I make are too idealistic, not real. The stuff I don’t want, do exist, they say. I still shake my head vehemently – is that the right word? – as if that would make it unreal. Because when you have no more words to make your point, you shake your head. You will not give in.

And then yesterday came and I read this article. It was about a Muslim and a Hindu sharing this apartment together as a kind of social experiment. I read how they were both coming from conventional households, how they are strong believers, and how they had always lived in neighbourhoods where everyone belonged to the same religion. So it took a lot out of them to decide to do this, and it worked. It’s been three years now, says the article. It is on The Wire, if anyone wants to read it.

The point is, I read it and I had to agree here was reality. I couldn’t shake my head at it anymore. At the office when I fight for ‘all is one’, and there shouldn’t be anything separating man from man, I get “but it is there. It is actually there.” My wanting it is not going to make it happen. So, very reluctantly, I am trying to see religion as a reality. Even as I type this, I have a finger twitching towards the backspace button. Maybe if I just pressed harder, it can still go away. I really don’t want it to enter my mind, my thoughts. But then idealism is only so good, it can’t make things happen. It’s just a happy belief that will make you feel good. Or is it?

I am trying to picture religion as a philosophy. People could have different philosophies. Or ideas. Or opinions. Say, take a movie. I could believe it is good, my neighbour could believe it is not. So this is about people liking different things. Some like one religion, some like another. That could happen. People are not the same, they are equal. Problem is the other differences do not separate them. They don’t turn people into “you” and “us”. Those differences come only in a few conversations, forgotten about at the end of it. But differences of faith linger. Putting people into brackets, as soon as a name is heard. And my mind will not allow that. I refuse to agree they exist. Because if I could shove those away, so can everyone. If I don’t think of a person by person’s religion or caste, it means that it’s possible to do that. You can just think of the person for what person is, without brackets. Out in the air, out in the open, free.

And if it is possible for one, it is possible for all. One day the brackets may stop to exist only because we refused to accept they are real. Idealism may still have a chance.

July 7, 2016

Just another train entry

Filed under: Diary,Train — Cris @ 03:15

July 5, 2016. 18:00 or thereabouts

In the evening Jan Shatabdi to Trivandrum. A trip that’s now routine, more than the wake-up-go-to-work-come-home routine. Well there is the come-home ending here. I’m going home, the thrills of it temporarily marred by the fact that I am on an aisle seat today. That’s right. I, Cris who doesn’t like her last name, am on an aisle seat, after specifically booking a window seat (or probably having messed it up).

What do people on aisle seats do? There is music, there’s a book to read. But none of it seems to mean anything on an aisle seat. It’s really like detention. You are forced to sit in your seat and do nothing. You can always observe, be a happy voyeur of other people’s lives. Like that woman in green blouse is reading a magazine and now opening a box of sweet snacks that look yum from here. There’s the man in the parallel aisle seat grabbing these snacks and disturbing her happy moments with the banana fry – that’s the snack. One I normally dislike but now that I can’t have, feel fondly about. It would be impolite to grab a fry, I suppose. The aisle man seems to get away with it, though.

Would it also be impolite – or considered bad manners – to borrow someone’s pen. I love pencils for daily work but this here goes on record. Of great writings by Cris to be discovered on a future date. That’s another thing I want to write about. How everyone is so obsessed with greatness. I want to write about the ungreats. Yes, I shall be doing that.

But not now, not with this half-eaten chewed-up yellow and black pencil, the kind I wrote with in first grade and have fond memories of. Of writing Thiruvananthapuram on a notebook, and thinking how one word took up an entire line.

Now the song is Tharum Thalirum. I might change it. But it’s an effort to remove this book, dig out the MP3 player from the crowded bag and press Next. So I’ll just think about the Friends episode that I saw yesterday and that comes to mind now ‘cause it has music in it – a mixed tape that Chandler gives Monica. A fake gift that becomes funny with Janice’s voice in it. What was the song now? The way you look tonight. That’s Frank Sinatra, right? I could google, but it involves the same tiresome procedure I mentioned before.

Ok. Next song came. It’s still the background score. Mm mm. ‘I wanna live, I wanna give’. Sounds like Neil Young. Ah ‘Heart of Gold’. These old men singers are really the best. With their deep and moving voice. The other day I was listening to Leonard Cohen sing ‘My oh my’. That begins ‘Wasn’t hard to love you. Didn’t have to try’. You have to know Cohen’s voice to imagine how good that’d sound. And don’t even worry about being cheesy. There’s no cheesy in Cohen’s music. There’s just music. That sounds lame. But let it be till I think of another word. Uh that reminds me of David Walliams. He would write as the writer in between his fiction. I think I want to read that now. So I am going to do that. Song when I leave – ‘Guess I’ll always be a soldier of fortune’.

PS: I might come back

PS2: So that’s the good thing about aisle seats. You write and you write and you write. In really crammed space, the way you’ve not written on a clean desk back home.

June 17, 2016

Finding her

Filed under: Fiction — Cris @ 02:59

“That was the last you spoke to her?” she asked the mother. Mother could barely talk, she looked numb. The dad nudges her. She could hear him murmur, “Please talk to her, dear. This is going to help us find our girl sooner.” He is not as shaken as the mother. The more practical kind, the easily accepting kind. Or perhaps they weren’t close, the dad and the daughter, she found herself judging and quickly stopped. There’s time for that, time for all the introspection and crossing out of probabilities. Now wasn’t it. She had to know everything, hear every last detail. The mother, after more nudges, manages to form bits of words at first. “Ye-yes. Alappuzha. Train… pa-passed.” You can see the pain in her face as she remembers the daughter’s voice. The way she had last heard it. “She sounded sleepy but told me she wasn’t sleeping,” the mother was now talking without being asked. Words came out faster, she was reliving it, perhaps finding some joy to be in a time when nothing had gone wrong. When she still knew where her daughter was, on a train to Ernakulam, going back to work after a weekend. “She was excited about taking my special pickles to her colleagues.” That was last night, she thought, as the mother’s eyes wandered to her daughter’s belongings, packed meticulously a night before the journey. “There, I had put it in that rack,” she passed on useless information. Pieces of the recent past would keep falling out of her like that.

The dad had nothing much to add. He had driven her to the station, but didn’t notice anything different. He doesn’t remember anything spoken during those few minutes. She seemed preoccupied, he said when she pressed him. Would not make a good witness, this one, she thought.

The next one to talk to was her boyfriend. He looked nearly the same as the mother but more restless than broken. He was in that boyish hurry to set everything right. He wanted everyone to be on their toes, going out there, searching, not standing here. “We never talk on the phone unless it is for a quick minute to convey something that should be faster than a message. Otherwise it is all messages,” he said after a lot of persuasion. He was the kind who liked his privacy and seemed quite guarded about hers too. She liked that. “What was her last message?” It was obvious he had already read it dozens of times but he still pulls his phone out from the shirt pocket, taps his fingers on it and turns his face away. His voice sounds far. “She said she was in my favourite seat, the side sleeper.”

Was that genuine? She had no doubts it was. She didn’t like to hurt this boy more. Others would have pressed him to tell more, just to make it juicier and give eye-catching headlines in the newspapers. But that wasn’t her purpose. Her purpose was to know. Know everything. Only then she could find her.

The best friend came along looking puffy eyed. They haven’t seen in a week. She had messaged a day earlier, they planned to meet but couldn’t. Perhaps if they met, she would have told her something. Or more likely not. She wasn’t the opening up type. “I have to push stuff out of her sometimes. She doesn’t talk like girls do about boyfriend stuff.” It was almost a complaint, forgetting for a moment her best friend was missing. It seemed she would not mind the missing so much as not being informed of her decision to disappear. She could have been a conspirator in all this, her face seemed to tell.

Next in line was the boss. Apparently he was the last to talk to her before she was gone. “She had reached Cherthala. I had asked her,” he seemed worried and quite anxious to help. Like a sensible man, he decided to keep his worries for later and help with as much information. “So she must have been in the train till then. And then the next stop was Ernakulam where she’d get down.” She knew that was true. There were co passengers who saw her staring out of the window with music in her ears at Cherthala, like a typical train traveller. That was the problem. Because this was typical, no one would have noticed her much. Ear phones and window seats are the most sought after and most obvious perks of a train journey. Deadly combination, she let herself digress for a second, before coming back to the boss. “So what did you talk about?” He didn’t even pause to think, he had already done his thinking, it seemed to her. “Work. We had some urgent crisis to take care of and I was discussing it with her.”

There was hardly half an hour from Cherthala to Ernakulam. Where could she have gone in this time? She looked at her watch. It was enough. She had what she wanted. She would go home and think about all she heard and add what she didn’t. She would have a complete picture. Of what she was. She waved away the characters she had conjured up in front of her, the real life characters who had last spoken to her before she decided to become missing. Once she knew what they had to say about her when she was no longer there, she would know where to find herself. She would not feel so lost. She could come back. Be found again.

March 25, 2016

My Train People

Filed under: People — Cris @ 03:12

Train travelling almost always leaves you with a story to write about. I have been missing these because I take the Jan Shatabdi every week and this sort of corners you into your seat especially if it is a window one, what with the one-way seats and the partitions in between, which actually makes it a comfy ride. But you miss the people stories. You don’t have to be the social kind, or the small talk kind. You just have to be the curious or the observant, the one that enjoys it all.

I had taken the Ernad Express grumpily, because the Shatabdi was already full and Ernad took two hours more than Shatabadi, and was more crowded. I felt guilty about claiming my seat which was taken by someone else and guiltier later for not sharing half of my seat as so many were standing. But then no one seemed to be complaining, the standers or the sitters. There was a certain happiness in here, in this really crowded coach that I took, that was somehow catching. And within an hour or so, you sort of establish a connection with your neighbours, without actually exchanging a word with them. It’s suddenly people you know, people with you.

On my right was a teenage couple, speaking what I suppose was Hindi, I have no idea of what. Opposite me, it’s a married couple with their toddler son, and one chubby fellow with a beard and a gigantic set of earphones. Standing to my left was a girl, who had to lose her seat to another claimer like me (the bad us), and uncomplainingly moved hither and thither with her earphones, one tenth the size of what Chubby had. There are more, the green shirt who took her seat, another green shirt who read a Sidney Sheldon and whom I might have had a crush on two years ago, an older woman who woke me up to ask about my seat and the hundreds (no exaggeration) of sellers who’d pass by.

But my forte had been established. It was the young couple, the married couple and kid, Chubby and Standing Girl. The family opposite me was like the happy families you watch in movies – laughing, loving, eating. This I believe was genuine, because if it weren’t, they couldn’t have made it last all five hours in the train. But there was not one annoyed gesture as the patient parents took turns to look after the little one, who hasn’t been still for one second, and kept insisting to eat the biscuits that fell on the floor, throwing an empty bottle at the opposite seat (which meant my feet and my hands and luckily not my face), and jumping up on their laps. The dad had been the bigger surprise, I never see fathers so patient, not only sharing the chores but doing it so happily. And unlike the typical Kerala families, this one was expressive. They look the typical Malayali trio but they don’t behave so. It was actually a happy sight to watch the mom put her hands affectionately on the dad every time she laughed or rested. I am not being a voyeur, this is hard to miss when you are seated in a crowded train and not sleeping.

I suppose the teen couple next to me was expressive too but they are on the same line as me so I couldn’t see and their language was alien. But what touched me was when the girl stopped her chatter and offered a candy bar to our Restless Kiddo who took it happily and gave her a baby-teeth smile. Later the young man would keep petting the child. He was irresistible that way, the kid, for all his restlessness, you could easily make a pet out of him. Love needed no language really. So good to be a kid, I thought, anyone could love you and also express it freely, no moral policing there. Yet.

Chubby in the meanwhile had brought out his gigantic earphones and plugged it to his mobile phone. He had not stopped laughing since. I imagined he is watching a Jagathy movie. But I also imagined, meanly, that there was nothing funny at all, he was just pretending to laugh to show he wasn’t lonely and bored. Poor Chubs. And then there was Standing Girl. I kept looking at her wondering if I should offer half my seat. I don’t know why I didn’t proceed. It’s simply one of those things you think and do nothing about. It’s when she stepped down at Haripad and walked away I felt so absolutely guilty. Why don’t we do the things we know we should – if it is for some temporary comfort, trust me it is no good at all compared to the later guilt you will feel. Quite for selfish reasons, I have decided to act as soon as I have such thoughts again, if only to save me from the torturous guilt.

So there, those were my people for the journey. I realized this when at some stop, the teens had stepped out and a suitcase man who boarded the train came to sit in their place. I said protectively, that seat’s taken.

February 12, 2016

Sabarimala, a fight for no one

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 22:39

Questions of equality struck me later. At first it was accepted, the inequality – I mean of the genders – and frowned upon like a bad fact of life. That it can be questioned didn’t occur to me. It’s the same with faith. At first you accept it, like the sights you see and the sounds you hear, you think of it as a belief to believe in. That it could be questioned, again comes later. Now I put the latter under the category of feelings. Faith is a feeling, like love, like hatred. You can’t choose what to believe in, you have to feel it. Nobody can make you.

And here at Sabarimala, both these questions come together. That of equality and that of faith. It just became one of those things I wasn’t concerned about. And that’s strange, that I wasn’t. Now I have mentioned my problems of being identified a feminist, if only for the strong reason that the word is highly misconstrued. But fact is I boil every time I hear about some kind of inequality – big or small. I don’t believe you have to be the one discriminated against to feel the injustice. But when it is a woman we are talking about, I can’t help it. I would have liked it if I were a man when I boiled. But never mind that. Point is I can’t take it. And that’s earned me the feminist tag that I am not fond of. The cause of equality is lost if you add a fem to it. It can’t be fem, it can’t be masculine either. It should just be.

So that’s why it’s strange I didn’t boil for Sabarimala’s women. When I heard words like tradition, I may have twitched an eyebrow but that’s about it. It is somehow not my area of concern. And I could brush it off as my agnosticism coming into the picture. Perhaps that’s why I am not boiling. And then again I hear it is the atheists that are actually “causing trouble”, raising voices for the women. I can see where that thought comes from. Women of faith – of the extreme kind who want to go through the pain of climbing the sloppiest slopes of Sabarimala – possibly also believe in the traditions handed down. Which is to say Ayyappan, the lord worshipped here, doesn’t wish for their presence. So then they make that sacrifice of not making that sacrifice they so want to make.

The atheists now are mostly rationalists, strong believers of equality and boil like I said I do. It’s plain discrimination, they feel, even though they probably have little wish to go themselves. They are fighting for the women believers who do not want to go against Ayyappan’s wishes. It’s not irony, it is not catch-22. It is just a fight for no one.

Fundamentally, I should be against it. And my question to those raising the argument of tradition is, if that were so, the temple entry proclamation could not have happened, and people of lower castes would still be standing outside, untouched. If traditions had not changed, there’d be sati still, child marriages, education a taboo for the antharjanams, and on and on and on goes the list.

That said, I somehow still feel we are fighting a non-issue here, despite my strong feelings for equality. Because those who care for rights, do not wish to go, and those who wish to go, do not wish to go.

December 2, 2015

Reality Check and Email Lady

Filed under: Journalism — Cris @ 22:29

I never thought I will have to use words like reality check. But those things are real. They have got to be. It’s like when good times become the norm, they suddenly wake up and remember they have to show up so someone could say, ‘Ah reality check’. Which is what I am going to do. Ah, reality check. It came with an email. Now, when I receive an email from someone I wrote about, my hands usually twitch a bit. Is this going to be good? It has been for a couple of days and I have just about stopped twitching when this unexpected email comes. From a name I did not know. This was not the person I wrote about. This was the person’s mother.

Mother starts it with Dear Cris. But the dearness ends there. Here is an absolute stranger telling me I am an irresponsible young journalist (that’s the silver lining here, the word young), that I have taken advantage of her child’s casual talk and made a story out of it. The story itself is not the problem. Certain lines of it are. And the child here is an adult, about to get married. But I panic of course. I call the person. Person says person is absolutely happy with the story, it is just that the mater is upset by it. But the panic doesn’t die. I write an apology first, but tell person’s mother that nothing has been written without person’s consent. That in fact the lines she objected to were the ones person had specifically asked me to write.

But the email exchange goes on. I forward the first to my boss and as usual, I had not gotten the insults thrown at me. I did not see the irresponsible part, I did not understand the take-advantage part. But that’s the story of my life, I never get insults till it is too late. I am sure the insulters find it embarrassing to insult me anymore. They have to insult me and then take pains of explaining it to me. Much like those who crack poor jokes and then explain them.

All this email exchange is not merely typing sharp words out to each other. It takes something out of you and puts something inside you. No, no this is no drama. Really, I am telling you, this thing called heaviness in your heart is real. I am sure if you go on a weighing machine every time you are upset, you are going to see 10 pounds more. That is the weight of your heaviness, no less.

I twist and twirl in the bed that night, not able to sleep, still composing lines in my head for the email lady. I am told to stop writing, to ignore. I am asked why take these small things to heart. Well, possibly because you can’t tell the small things that they are small and have no business hurting me, so please go away. They don’t really wait for permission to get inside your heart in the first place. And they can’t be thrown out, unless you are one of those yogi types who are said to meditate these guys out and stay detached. I am also glad I wrote to her, because if I didn’t, I would keep composing lines for the rest of my life. That’s what I do. I still go to an eighth standard day to that near-the-toilet classroom we had and tell lines that I think I should have said then, when a group of 13 year old girls stood and mimicked my funny dance steps and I walked in on them. I laugh at it now, laugh at my own non danciness. But my 13 year old self still hurts, and wants to tell things.

Sad, yes, but people are people with their strange little hangovers. I don’t know how many hours I must have wasted telling lines that I should have said and couldn’t say in the far far past. It is a good thing email lady chose email. If she had stood face to face I probably would have done what I did in eighth grade and 20 years later, said things I should have said today.

Mom says these things happen to journalists. Friend says block her. Me, I say, reality check.

October 11, 2015

My speech: It’s so easy to be happy

Filed under: life,My Musing Moments — Cris @ 18:38

Some day if I get ‘high’ enough to be an orator, I am going to speak about how easy it is to be happy and how we like to choose to be not. Like Dupree has his ‘ness’ speech in You, Me and Dupree.

Here’s the idea.

(Gee, I have imagined this so clearly, that I actually feel the initial reluctance you’d have if – and that is a big if – you are up on a stage, about to talk).

The idea, people, is as simple as it says it is – it is easy to be happy. Now, I am talking about everyday happiness, not the big hurdles that come to your life with truckloads of agony.

I will take an instance. Say, a friend of mine says we will have lunch together today. Later, she calls to cancel. Now when I hear it, I don’t feel bad, I say alrighty and cut the call. So my natural reaction is to go on being happy – or rather, status quo. But here’s where the second part of my speech comes – how we like to choose to be not happy. So I will sit and think. I will think why is she cancelling on me like this, this is not very nice. I will think will she do it with someone else. I will think she is doing this because I don’t mean much to her, I am not important. By then, I would have lost my train of thought, and all my focus would be on being irritated/ upset. It’s almost addictive. You get addicted to becoming unhappy whatever way possible.

This is a vague instance I quote. But I am sure everyone would have something to relate this with. Something microscopic in the large picture, something that probably never bothered us in the first place, but we focus so much on getting angry or unhappy, we forget it.

And this tendency to choose the unhappy route is something that develops in you as you grow older. I mean, you don’t see kids walking angrily, thinking thought after thought about something someone said and later seemed like a good reason to be mad about.

No one would agree easily, but really this is what we do day in and day out. So much that it’s become a habit with us. We could ask ourselves honestly – and this would be hard, the honesty part – did that something I got so upset about today really bother me in the first place? This would be difficult – getting ourselves to admit that it didn’t. Like I said, we really like our unhappinesses. For some strange reason.

The secret lies in figuring this out. Cause however much we like it, unhappiness is a pain in the neck. Kicking out is a lot easier than we think. The minute we sense our mind trying to get upset, just ask if it really matters to us, if we are just making an issue out of nothing. And very importantly, be honest to yourself. Really works wonders, I tell you. Though the adult inclination is towards unhappiness, once you choose the happy path, it is really so beautiful, like a new landscape you discovered, that you’d want to keep going back to it.

September 5, 2015

To small-talk or not?

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 13:52

Say you need to ask someone something. So you make a call. What’s the first thing you say after hello?

Here’s how I work. I say hello, and then I say this is why I called you. Right on to it. Not that I believe this is the way it should be. I am bad with telephone manners. I am bad with any kind of manners. And if I try any other track like ‘how have you been’ or ‘so long now, isn’t it’, it would sound absolutely artificial coming from me. So artificial even to my ears that I doubt if I would do much more than cackle and make strange sounds. Hi, cough cough, how, cough a lot more, are you.

Now, a lot of people are good at this. They call a rare call and ask you how you are, what’s up with you and all before they tell you why they called. They are comfortable here, but the question is, is the person they called comfortable. Sure it is done with exactly that intention. That people think it is bad to call out of the blue when you need something after not calling for so long. So they make the compulsory small talk first. See, we care about you, we are not just calling for our needs. And while that good intention is appreciable, I really wonder how the other person – the receiver – finds it all.

If he is a bad phone person like me, he would be uncomfortable. He’d prefer the hello and the why after that. That way, you can just talk about that. Oh, that’s why you called, oh yes, we could do that, or we can’t do that. It’s easy, see, matter of fact.

The argument now that could come is, what if the small talk is genuine. What if the caller, despite calling for a need, actually wants to know how the friend has been, what’s been going on. That it is only the busyness of a busy life that’s kept him from calling before, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. They’d like to know for real.

That could be true now, but my counter argument is, if this need had not come, or the need is no longer there, would you still make the call and ask? Clubbing the small talk with the purpose seems somehow the preferred choice.

Because see, if the random just-for-talk calls come too sometimes, it sounds more genuine. I wouldn’t say the bad-with-phones person would find it comfortable. But it might grow on her, and she’d learn to be comfortable with the person. I talk from examples in my life. There is this friend who used to call at first and I would never answer. Or say flimsy excuses like ‘work’ (yeah, right!). But later I’d pick up, at first be very uncomfortable, conscious. Then somewhere along, learned to be myself, blurt out if I want to cut the call and go. That was easier. No different really from real life talks. But won’t work with everyone.

So erm, I don’t really have a concluding point here. I guess if I am the caller calling for something, I’d just get straight to it. It would definitely work with friends you call often (even when you don’t need anything). And it would work with the rare callers too, cause my guess is they’d prefer it, even though they would tell at the end of the call – Selfish brat, don’t call all these months and calls now when she has a favor to ask. But that’s going to come anyway, small talk or not. With small talk, that line would be – Selfish brat, calling me now after all these months and trying to pretend she cares!

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