Sunday, March 13, 2005


I was at my aunt's place this Saturday. She hurt herself while running after a train at Churchgate station. Luckily, she didn’t hurt herself too badly and escaped with minor bump and bruises.

Great thing was that, haven’t met her for a long time - there was some minor family fracas and she sort of distanced herself from the rest of us. But meeting her and uncle was like starting from where we left off, before things turned sour. There were no hard feelings or bitterness. Finally, after spending the not-so-great part of their lives staying in a terrible place (connectivity, water, maintenance problems), they have moved to a great place near the station. And I am so glad, that they finally made the right move.

We got catching up on whole lot of old stuff. But as have been discovering lately, conversations with Generation X-1 are a real pain. I, being in I.T., to my great misfortune (will explain later) have undergone soft skills training - do and don’ts of formal conversations, active listening, negotiation skills. Whenever, there is a chitchat, my mind goes into this analysis overdrive. I am distraught, when I find the other person, not sticking by the rules of active conversation. Now, most of the conversation I had with aunt and uncle was a jungalbandi gone wrong. Uncle would say something and aunt would pick on a point (reminded of something) and before his conversation was over, would launch into her own discourse. Same with uncle. At times, even when they were in total agreement, they would interrupt the other with "No, no, no. It’s not like that". At the end of it, it all got on my nerves. It’s not as if they were having a fight. They were just having "their" conversation.

It’s not an exception. This episode, I find it happening everywhere. People refusing to listen to other person's point of views, driving the argument, latching on to words rather than the gist. The problem is so rampant amongst Indians as a whole and especially with older generation. They just don’t listen (There is this English factor, which I am meaning to elaborate later). Indians are especially terrible as debators, negotiators, argumentators, because there is no empathy for other person's views. Watch our political debates (LokSabha, News channels), check out the fights in trains, even corporate discussions. Generally, all our arguments tend to end in verbal fisticuffs. Due to our tongue straddling so many different languages, we are also not very tactful and correct with words and often end up playing one up-personship (pc) and hurtful games, knowingly or unknowingly. Above all, we are also masters of tangents.

It is difficult for you to stick to basic conversation etiquette, when the other person's are non existent. I presume, my half-baked knowledge and short temper doesn't help matters much. Now, the misfortune I mentioned earlier is because, had I not been taught all this training bull about what constitutes a good conversation, I would be spared the entire inter- and post-conversation autopsy. I would find the normal talk, normal and not split my hair over silly semantics.

What should I do? May be I should stop listening!
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