31 May, 2013

The superb art of conversation drifting (or tilting)

Life has been boring the last month or so. I've had nothing overly exciting happening to me. I did go for one of those (fixed) IPL games at the stadium. I feel so ashamed. Through the worst of times I never gave into peer pressure of having to smoke a cigarette, drink alcohol, date women (Peer pressure avoidance mechanism for this one is still in place, I can’t find the damn off switch) and other vices. And yet here I was on the persuasion of my office folks, going to the stadium to see a cricket match. Sigh, so ashamed. (PS: The match went into super over and all that, somewhat enjoyed it, but I feel God had fixed it for me hoping I give in to my true patriotic Indian calling of “I looooouuuuuuve cricket”)

Anyway, that and a few more dancing episodes aside, I’ve really had nothing of significance to write about. However, I recently came across a few people who I found quite fascinating (and annoying to the point of envisioning slow torture techniques in my head) who no matter what, managed to turn the tide of a conversation to what they were currently obsessing about. For example, a cousin of mine was told, in passing, that he was being considered for a project in the US. We were all happy for the boy, and wished him well until his folks decided that ‘going to the US’ was all they could talk about as though I was some sort of village dunderhead who would get overly impressed. And all this was only when he was told that he might go. No Visa, no port-of-entry letter, no call from the client, nothing.

Yet, every conversation somehow became a conversation about the US. You’d think the family has been travelling there quite often. I guess it’s a typical Tam’I am a Green Card holder’Bram syndrome. I’m going to call these guys ‘drifters’ because of their obvious but ‘it’s smooth in my head’ art of drifting a conversation to a topic they want to endlessly talk about. Here’s how conversations typically went –

Me – It’s rather hot in Bangalore today
Le Drifter – Yes! Unusual weather. But one has to get used to extreme variations in temperature. I hear Boston is like that during the year. That reminds me, I need to buy a good jacket before I go to America.

Me – This pasta is good
Le Drifter – Yes. It’s good. I also know to cook pasta now. You see, it’ll be easy for me to make when I come back from work in the US because I’ll be living by myself.

Me - *says nothing*
Le Drifter – In America, they are very professional. No one talks during work hours and are very focused on getting work done. Not like these Indian offices.

And it just got progressively worse to a point I just put on my earphones to ensure the drifter thought I was busy. This is the ‘I am going to America’ drifter. There is also the ‘I went on a foreign vacation’ drifter who has much pent up energy and will find a way to move the conversation into talking about what they did on their vacation.

Me – Oho! These airlines are going to get expensive with the government allowing the unbundling of services.
Le Drifter – Oh yes! I had actually preempted this and booked my tickets in advance. Let me tell you how the airplane I have chosen for my foreign vacation works with regard to unbundled services…. *and goes on to explain something about how cabin temperature is colder than usual and you are forced to rent a blanket…. I phased out after that*

Me – I think this product would do rather well in the energy sector
Le Drifter – Yes. It can also work in the travel sector. Let me give you an example of how…. *and goes on to explain all the deals availed online for recent foreign trip without actually talking about how the product can help*

I’m not even going to elaborate on the drifters who turn everything into a conversation about ‘Why aren’t you getting married?’ (I know you lot were waiting for me to bring the marriage twist into the story). These drifters are mostly relatives, who until that point in time were your favourite people in the world. Amazing how something so simple can be twisted into a badgering exercise for marriage. From non veg eating to greying hair, to attending a rock show get twisted, and sometimes without any connection whatsoever into an ‘it is high time you got married conversation’. Clearly I have no other ambition but to get married.

Anyway, back to the drifters. The admirable part of these drifters is their ability not to notice you rolling your eyes over, sarcastic replies, and caveman like grunts to acknowledge their blah blah. They are relentless souls who are determined to tell you about whatever topic they want to talk about irrespective of what you are talking about. A conversation on prostate exams will somehow turn into a conversation of some app they downloaded on their ipad which has nothing to do with a prostrate exam but makes you feel that the exam would be less painful than listening to them talk. A conversation on double-entry book keeping will somehow become a conversation about how they took some (what they believe is great) pictures of dogs, cats and other “wildlife” while walking through a park in Bangaluru with their fancy ass camera that they bought a week ago from their recent trip to the US; and the amount of research they went through before buying this camera. A conversation on fixing a leaking faucet unceremoniously turns into a conversation on match fixing and making money and how they invest in different funds and are less than 24 hours away from making multi-billionaires out of themselves.


Sigh!  My apologies if I have ever become a drifter.