Thursday, November 19, 2009

Irrelevant Conversations

A brave man once requested me / to answer questions that are key / is it to be or not to be? / and I replied 'oh why ask me?'
Was listening to nick drake's 'suicide is painless': a song that has become a part of my life, courtesy m (may her Scribble Pad rest in peace). I have heard a few covers of the song and I like nick drake's version the best. His flat and unemotional tone goes brilliantly with the lyrics. I had the title of the song as my goog-talk's status. As it turns out, I had one of the most pointless conversations I have ever suffered; and the conversation was triggered by the status message. Seems oddly ironic, that! But, let's talk about the conversation itself.

Rooney (name changed to protect the author against a libel lawsuit) started a chat with me: an exercise he attempted 26 months ago and promptly gave up as being too hurtful. I will take the credit for that too, of course. On that occasion, he wanted to talk about volleyball and school and nostalgia in general. I'm not exactly the emotional kind; not about school at any rate. I never did see the point of reminiscing about a time of my life when my primary motive was "getting more marks than Sowjanya". But Rooney wasn't to know to know that, of course. That conversation was a classic case in point for my "lost child" theory.

(Sidetrack1: begins)
The concept of the "child lost in a mela" is a common recurring theme in Bollywood movies. Of course, in the 70s, these lost kids would all meet up and recognise each other (each of these n lost kids would have had 1/nth of a medallion that help the job of recognition or, better still, they would all have a common family song that they would sing to establish their credentials: Yaadon ki Baraat, et al)


Even as a kid, I found the idea that you could drop a relationship or a conversation as a five-year old and re-start that relationship or conversation twenty years later as if nothing had changed in the 'tween, to be extremely unlikely if not totally absurd. Things change! (Not a particularly insightful or original observation, I must admit. But it is obvious enough and valid enough to need neither an explanation nor a justification.) m used to tell me that she found it hard to start conversations with people she had lost touch with, because she never knew how much the other person had changed. My point has always been that people don't change radically. Well, I did, but that's just moi! My explanation for the awkwardness in starting a conversation with someone you lost touch with, is the fact that the reason for your conversations when you were together was merely proximity and not bonding. Conversation with most people on most occasions is contextual. If the context does not exist, neither does the conversation.when you have lost touch with people, the context in which the live their lives can be different from the context in whcih you live yours. If the context is no longer shared, obviously the conversation is forced or empty (or both).

(Sidetrack1: ends)

On the earlier occasion, Rooney wanted to talk about "things in common", which we had quite a lot of as kids. A dozen years down the road of life, Rooney was still talking about our school principal and volleyball and Alistair MacLean. To be fair to the man, I'm not criticizing him for living in the past. Since Roon and I shared no "present", he did have ample reason to believe that he could start with nostalgia. There was nowhere else to start the conversation with. But sharing the same geography fifteen years ago is not the same as sharing a connection for life. Of course the conversation went nowhere. I told him so in as many words. Rooney hung up the phone and, in all likelihood, muttered some obscenities on the way out.

In today's conversation, Rooney was evidently distressed or, at any rate, disturbed and had happily (definitely not an appropriate usage of the adverb) concluded (because of my status message) that he had found someone else who was in the same depressing boat. (At this point I must apologize if my summary is incorrect (or more likely apocryphal): In the guilty conversation, Rooney was spectacularly unclear (or unsure) with his nouns, and put on the word "it", a burden that "it" could neither semantically nor logically be expected to bear.)

- note to oneself... less parentheses tends to imply greater linearity : ergo, TRY AGAIN! -

The Roon-man was depressed and evidently in the process of hating himself for it. Depression, I must add, doesn't go along with Rooney's world-view which requires the obvious and overwhelming presence of the clich├ęd perimeter of Argentum. His objection to depression is primarily wistful: Life should be beautiful. Too much roberto benigni has been watched, methinks. He wanted me to confirm that I saw the ray of sunshine that he could not. He wanted me to confirm that that there was more to life than this. But! But, he did not want to actually tell me that he wanted my help. I was not going to offer it him on a platter. For all I cared, he could bloody well ASK! Well, he didn't; nor did I. The details are irrelevant. Roon had done something that he believed was wrong, and he needed me to tell me that it was alright. I obviously was going to say no such thing. Not because of any objection (in principle) to lying, but merely because I had decided that I had no intention of satisfying his whims. Also, I might have been taking him to task for not declaring his nouns.

An excerpt from the conversation is given below: 3 things to be noted.
1. Very few complete sentences. Typos galore.
2. The banality of Roon's questions and the irreverent nature of my answers
3. That IS my goog talk theme - light sabers et al.

 
Darth Roon: you really are not serious are you?
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: not serious abt what?
Darth Roon: but what is the motivation.....?
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: for WHAT?
Darth Roon: there seems to be no point.
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: this conversation?
Darth Roon: no, not really :-)
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight:  I'd start agreeing in about two minutes   :)
Darth Roon: i am just fine. cool, man.
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: didnt wnt to know :)
Darth Roon: i am very happy.
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: didnt need to know.
Darth Roon: harsha, you rascal you.you are a good guy man, but obivously you can give a guy a heart attack.
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: your problem seems to be that I dont take empathy or sympathy very well.
Darth Roon: that whole thing is going to be a stupid assumption though.
 
At this point in the conversation Roon decides to try again.

Darth Roon: all right harsha-san!   harsha-san: how's life?
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: Your consistent refusal to spell out the nouns is discomforting.. almost like you have no idea what you want to apply those statements to...inane question deserves inane answer.   life's good!   :)
Darth Roon: how's the wife?   
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: the person who played that that role exists, she just doesn't play that role any more.
Darth Roon: harsha, you remember the time we were conversing at the htoel in madras when i gave you the shirt from nba --- what was it, the scaramento kings, who was it, the guy...? you still ahve it?
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: tony kukoc bulls no 7.   I dont have any personal possessions to be cherished.   conscious choice.
Darth Roon:    zen. or minimalism   ?
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: neither..
Darth Roon: too small, eh?
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: just carelessness brought on by apathy
Darth Roon: after all, ravi shankar thinks pi is of no value
Sriharsha, The Jedi Knight: and that would be of least relevvance to me.
Darth Roon: sure, sure.   there is no period in life.   ha ha ha ha


-------------------------------------------------------------
I have played irrelevant conversation as a game. But this is the first truly irrelevant conversation I have had. From the beginning to the end, the conversation was pointless: not one redeeming note. And it was triggered by Roon's concern for my "obviously" depressed status. Frankly, If I had to pick between suicide and this kind of conversation, I would pick suicide any day.
'Cause suicide is painless / it brings on many changes  / and I can take or leave it if I please
...and you can do the same thing if you please.

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