In the midst of all the noise and hustle that the city so naturally generates, I saw her standing on the sidewalk of the road looking here and there, searching for someone or waiting for someone. She looked confused. May be she was just lost and didn’t know which path to take. I walked up to her. She didn’t even notice me walking up to her. She was just lost in her own little confusion. I walked up to her and said ‘Excuse me, can I help you in any way? You seem like you have landed up at the wrong place. Are you looking for some address or destination that I can guide you to?’ She looked at me first with a little surprise and then with an amused look. I didn’t know what to say so I just started explaining myself before she could start judging me. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean to intrude. I just saw you from over there and you looked confused so I thought you might be lost. Are you lost?’ She looked at me and waited for a second as if framing the sentence in her mind before saying it and then said ‘Well, not today, no! But yeah I kinda think I’m lost; in the general sense of the word. I think I’m lost in life. I don’t have any idea of what I’m doing with my life. I think I am lost there.’ As she said this I just felt out of place and started feeling awkward. I cursed myself for having come up and asked her anything and for putting myself in such a position. I didn’t know what to say to her. I looked at her and saw a puzzled expression. She was waiting for me to respond. I didn’t have anything. This was much unexpected. I came up with a feeble ‘Well, aren’t we all?’ She smiled on hearing that which was a relief for me. She then dived into a conversation with me. She told me that she loved this part of town; the buildings, the cafes and the people and how they are very helpful to strangers. She asked me if I lived nearby and what I did for a living and I told her a little about myself. When I walked up to her, I swear, I had no intention of asking her out or dating her or anything; it was purely out of the need to help others. But now that we had exchanged this blip of good conversation I felt like asking her out for coffee. I was just mustering the courage to ask her if she would like to consider joining me for a coffee at one of the nearby cafe when she looked over my shoulder and smiled and waved at someone. A tall, good looking guy was standing on the other side of the road. ‘That is who I was looking for and waiting for’ she said and added ‘It was nice to converse with you’ and left. I stood there with a question that would never be answered and a moment I will always remember. As she left, she turned around and said ‘See you around’. I smiled. I kept thinking how I was just a way to pass her time while she was waiting for someone. I didn’t feel bad or diminished or used in any way. She was not rude in any way. She was polite and courteous to me. It felt good to have a nice conversation with a stranger. To just meet people once, spend a good time (no matter how short the time is) and make a good memory feels good. It just makes your day, in some cases, your week. I remembered what she had said about this city and the people and thought how true and apt it felt right now ‘I love this city. I love how you can have a conversation with a stranger like he/she was an old friend’ she had said. Indeed, I loved this city too.
Since the past few days I have found myself in situations with people who don’t appreciate silence much. Everyone wants something or other to be said. They need some topic on which they can share their opinion and views. It is really hard for people to be in company of others and not talk or just remain silent. Even when most people are silent, in their mind they are thinking of some interesting topic to talk about. This happens more while talking to some girl. They can’t stand even two minutes of silence. On a long drive in a taxi from Lower Parel to Carter’s Road with 5 people squeezed in a taxi of 4, after spending a long and tiring evening, a friend declares to others that they all are boring as hell as they all have been silent since the past two minutes. Two minutes of silence had bored her. TWO MINUTES! I didn’t know what to say to her!
People now-a-days have really low threshold for getting bored. My 13 year old brother is bored when the he isn’t allowed to use the computer to use facebook and play farmville. Once a journey to a hill station, I was looking out of the car and admiring the scenic beauty while beside me he was cringing and twisting and constantly complaining how boring the trip was. I am not saying that he should look outside of the car and think of the big philosophical questions of life and all that stuff but getting bored comes very easily these days. Not in front of computer, laptop, mobile – bored; on a train journey and mobile battery down – bored; sitting with a friend but out of things to talk about – bored. I don’t understand people’s need to constantly keep talking about things!
Silence is good. You don’t always have to be talking when you are with someone. It is okay to sit with someone and just be silent, to have a coffee with someone and not keep thinking about an interesting topic to talk. Even close friends are most times not comfortable with silences. The constant ‘So, what else’ is so fucking irritating while talking to someone that it puts me off and I don’t even feel like talking to that person after that. Once or twice is okay but if you keep saying ‘aur bata’ every 2 minutes, let us just not talk. People have this constant need to talk about something or the other. Its like silence is killing them in some way. They sometimes don’t even let you finish your side of the story. You are just about to add something more to the topic you have been talking about but in that 10 seconds of silence, they have already asked you what else is going on in your life and then you don’t even feel like talking about it anymore.
One of the biggest reason that people hate silence and are constantly looking for some topic to keep the conversation going is that if you can’t continuously talk to someone, then you are a bore. People these days are very quick to judge others. 5 minutes in the conversation and if there is more than 90 seconds of continuous silence, people wouldn’t like to talk to you after that. It is like every conversation they are having is supposed to be an entertaining session. It is like when they go to watch a movie in theater and if there is nothing interesting going on for five minutes, people take their mobile out of their pockets and start tweeting or Whatsapping or checking their facebook notifications. I feel so weird thinking that when I am talking to someone all they are interested in is being entertained like I am some sort of stand-up comedian.
I am comfortable with silence. I am okay with not saying anything when I am out of things to say. I can handle two-three minutes of silence. It is only when you are silent can you find another topic to talk about, right? Or do you guys make a list of ‘interesting topics to talk about’ and then choose a topic immediately after you finish talking about something. I am comfortable with silence and seriously if you are not than go ahead and start some interesting topic of conversation instead of repeatedly saying ‘what else’.
Honestly I don’t even feel comfortable around people with whom I can’t share some silence with. The sort of people who constantly need to talk don’t gel along well with me. And when you are constantly looking for things to talk about, the conversation stops being fun and starts feeling like a duty. A conversation should be easy going.
The fun in talking with people is not when you keep on looking for interesting things to talk about but when you can talk about anything. Sometimes when you are talking to someone it is so good cause there is this flow in your conversation and you don’t have to try hard to find something to talk about. That is a good conversation. I am not saying that you can have that with everyone but you should at the least have that sort of conversation with your close friends. And if at times, you don’t have anything to talk about than just stay quiet. It is okay to stay silent. After all, Silence is golden, right? Enjoy it. Savor it.
PS: I just had this feeling and I blogged it down without thinking much. Also, whoever is reading this article(that one friend of mine who is) please don’t take this in an offensive way cause this is not about you. This is a general opinion that I have about other people. Also, constructive criticism, PLEASE! 🙂