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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Can I get the please?

Its easy to miss some people. You might be looking straight at them and yet look through them. Douglas Adams would define them as the biological forms of Somebody Else's Problem. They are just born that way. Some of them, like yours truly, would like to rechristen their middle name as 'Background' but they give up when even the Registrar for change in names doesnt take cognizance of their existence.

You can understand when you are constantly being ignored in a populous country like India. In fact, it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It just means that you are not at the cutting edge of genetic mutation that leapfrogs some people to the top of the queue without having to wait a single minute. You would have to wait like most others and longer than most others. It is just your way of life, your reason to be.

Being ignored isnt bad all the time. Definitely not when there is a brawl or when there is a roadblock or when your relatives are visiting or if you bunk a few corporate sessions or days. Most other times, it means waiting. It means waiting while accomodating others' unstated brusque requests to let them pass through. If you question them, they would likely look at you in horror as if you have suddenly materialized out of thin air. They would look you up and down, conclude that they are hallucinating and then continue to ignore you.

Waiting has its benefits. It teaches you patience and lets you observe. Although, being ignored could be a severe blow to one's misplaced ego but to survive you end up developing a rather peculiar sense of humor. You arrived at the airport three hours earlier and are still dangerously close to missing the flight; thats funny. You are waiting on the waiter; damning.

Being ignored could be a continuous, non-terminating, non-repeating event in restaurants. In math, they are called irrational numbers; in restaurants, they become irrational experiences. It is almost as if you have become invisible. You enter a restaurant, the sign asks you to wait to be seated and you do exactly that. After a few minutes of watching others seating themselves as you transfer your weight from one leg to another and then back again, you eventually take the matter in your hand and place it at the empty table closest to yourself. Then you realize that the table is not set and you perform a magic trick of swiftly moving to another one without being noticed. You need not have worried; everybody is busy ignoring you anyway. You take a deep breath, compose yourself and meekly raise your hand. At first, you do it with panache but you quickly make amends by waving your hands held high up your head. You could have been in a burning house. The rest of the world, however, is not so impressed and looks the other way.

Now, the genius that you are, you target a particular stewardess who, in your opinion, would succumb to your charm. She looks at you at that fleeting moment when your invisibility cloak has slipped, recognizes you for what you are and then makes a stupendous effort to ignore you for the rest of the lunch hour. In between, a gay steward comes to your rescue. You are so moved that you want to turn to the other side and marry him as a repayment for the generousity. Presently, an order is taken. A seasoned campaigner; you have chosen to keep things as simple as possible. Any bread will do. Chilli sauce will be good but not essential. No special requests from you except that bring it as soon as you can.

You watch with a drooling mouth and a grumbling tummy as the food is delivered to tables all around you, cheques are collected and happily fed folks walk out burping. You have had enough. The Aryan in you is enraged and you shower a passing steward with your complaints. He nods wisely which comforts you and goes on his way. You have been done in by the age-old diplomatic tactic of being listened to without any relief being offered. You contemplate walking away and lo, behold, the food arrives except its not what you ordered for. What the heck, you eat it anyway. It is and tastes horrible and even the worms in your stomach cringe. You cant wait to get out of here, get up and shout at the top of your lungs, "Can I have the cheque?". When nobody responds, you add, "Today please??". You notice somebody laughing in the background. You tell yourself that he is laughing at your joke and not at you. Afterall, the only person who can laugh at you would need to have a peculiar sense of humour and could only be you.


Annoymously said...

Love how you write. And Douglas Adams.

This was real fun to read. Though still some undercurrents of genuine morbidity :-)

Toddler said...

amusing yet again... if you're being ignored, probably coz you're putting urself in the corner :)

Beta said...

Thanks guys.

The undercurrents of morbidity is unintentional and probably stems from the fact that I have been living out of suitcases for over a month now. And one fine evening, I stepped out for my dinner and had this very funny experience. Things are bound to improve from here. I am definitely not putting myself in a corner but more putting it out there :-)

Annoymously said...

Yeah i know what that feels like.

meanwhile hope all's well with your family/ friends in bbay if any

Beta said...

Yes. Everybody is fine. Thanks for asking. Hope the same for you.

All of a sudden, the article sounds so bleak after the events that have transpired :-)

Annoymously said...

yes, thanks.