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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to lose friends and alienate people (part 1)

I have always had friends. All kinds of them - friends, best friends, just friends, friends of friends, friends that use me, friends that abuse me (not physically -dont get any ideas Ok?) and friends that I use. Sometimes, I think I have too many of them than I'd have like to have. Even my parents and siblings would agree that there are too many so called "Friends" in my network. I abuse the word friendship in the way that I call any relationship : Friendship. I don't know why - may be coz friendship is the only relationship that can be associated with anyone without any changes to anything. I am the kind of person who would walk into a restaurant, order some random thing and eat whatever they prepare without even adding any condiments to it. I dont like to change anything much. I am ok with whatever it is and however it is (as long as it is to my liking :) ). Most of the time, I dont even order for myself - I let the waitress pick out something for me. It sometimes ends up being a total disaster but that's life. I do not do this coz I am too lazy to choose but I do this coz I want to experience what the other person is like - what he/she would like to eat or what he/she would order if it was up to them. This is my way of escaping me and being someone else I guess. Or may be I am just too confused to order anything for myself. That being said, I am also a control freak in other aspects. I am a complete set of paradoxes. Not necessarily a Hypocrite but a self-contradicting entity driven by the context.

I have always been good with people. I think I can go as far as saying I understand people (including some women) to a fair extent (I think). Although I misjudge them at times but I am right to most extent. I have seen lots of types - stereotypes I mean. In my short time here on planet earth I have had chance to interact with so many ists - extremists, conformists, objectivists, pessimists, activists, atheists, religionist, sadists, enthusiasts and The Closet Depressionists. The most amazing thing about me is that I can relate to all of them. When I am with one, I completely understand what they mean and can relate to what they are. Infact, I saw a movie (Little Children) the other day about a cheating husband and I could totally (or thothally as my russain friend says it) relate to that even though I am neither married nor the cheating type. It's like I get into the other person's skin with no effort at all. It comes very naturally to me. This might seem a bit proud and all but it is true. Well, true* (with a star!)

The point is, my ability to relate to people got me a lot of friends. People confide in me or ask me for advise or dump their troubles or just wanna talk to me coz I seem to care/listen. As crazy as it sounds, it is very hard to find people who can listen. I do and hence I get to listen to a lot of crap from a lot of people. Although, I am quite a bit of a talker too. So, when I am not talking, I am listening - makes sense right? (See, I was not lying after all).

The other day, I looked at the variety of age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds of the people in my network and it's pretty interesting. I have so many kinds of people in my network - Americans, Canadians, Africans, Europeans, Indians, Chinese, Nepalese, Korean, Haitian, Nigerian, Black, White, Young, Old, Adolescent, Male, Alpha-Male, Female, Women, Girls, Boys, Pastors, Atheists, Virgins, Sex Addicts, Cabbies, Waiters, Millionaires, Actors, Photographers, Bloggers, Coders, Geeks, Hotties & Notties, Scientist and a Murderer among many others in my friends list. I understand this is not an achievement but just the variety of the people in my network is mind blowing. I am not kidding, this is my network for real.

When I moved to USA, I had 2 business contacts (my employers Sreenivas and Nagesh) to call in case of emergency and 2 friends to call who would care to talk to me (Wesley and Gordon from InsideView) - that was pretty much it. You can imagine how difficult it must have been for me to come down from having a massive directory to call to just 2. Back home, I had just about everyone calling me to play cricket or watch a movie or just hang out or doing something really stupid like staking out a friend's locality for hot girls. My day was packed with meaningless events and idiotic randomness to say the least. The people in my life drove it in all directions although it was MY life. I took charge only when it is required. It was fun that way. I loved every moment of it until it all came to a complete halt when I move to the United States of America.

to be continued.....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Most beautiful opening and closing lines for a movie : The Switch (2010)

"Look at us : running around, always rushed, always late - I guess that's why they call it the Human Race. What we crave for most in this world is Connection. For some people it happens at first sight, it's when you know, you know! It's fate working its magic and that's great for them. They get to live a Pop song, ride the express train but that's not the way it really works. For the rest of us, it's a bit less romantic, it's complicated, it's messy, it's about horrible timing and fumbled opportunities and not being able to say what you need to say when you need to say it - at least that's the way it was for me." - From the move "The Switch" (the most beautiful opening line for a movie I've ever heard)

The movie closes with this note :
"But sometimes it slows down just enough for all the pieces to fall into place, Fate works its magic and you are connected. Every once in a while, in all the  randomness - something unexpected happens and it pushes us all forward and the truth is - what I'm starting to think, what I'm starting to feel is that may be  the human race isn't a Race at all"

Isn't this beautiful? Great job by the writers, I love it!

Allan Loeb (screenplay)
Jeffrey Eugenides (short story)

Just thought tats

I know that you are wondering what the title of this post means - right? No, it's not a typo and It's not proper english either and that is exactly the point here. I used this beautiful gibberish phrase in a video interview the other day. To give you more context, let describe the event more.

The context

I was interviewing a real nice lady (Linda) from Ohio who is suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and Brain Tumor and still helping a kid in India get a decent education. She cannot walk and is confined to a wheelchair. She can only see through one eye and that too after opening the eyelid with her hand. She finds it in her heart to give others while she is yet to receive. So, I was interviewing her to find out what drives her to help others despite her condition while we are lost in our own selfish world. She is as Christian as it gets, although I am not much of a Christian myself, I wonder why people do what they do and this curiousity drove me nuts until I interviewed her. She said something funny in the interview, if I remember correctly - she said "I never did anything wrong" - which was a joke obviously but I was not sure if that was a joke or not. As soon as she said that, I thought to myself that "Yeah right, that is a BIG LIE and you know it but go on it's YOUR show." I did not say that out loud (Thank God!) but I was thinking it. She continued to say "that of course would be a lie, I am Human!" and laughed. I felt a sigh of relief that she was just joking and was not seriously try to imply that she's all godly and divine and did the right thing her whole life coz you never know with the people in pain - they either turn extremely bitter or freakishly divine and I am not good with either extremes.

Here's the video of the interview. FYI, the video skips to the part where I utter the stupid phrase. :

If you watch the video, you know that she started with "I wish I could" but obviously I missed that part. I only hear what I want to hear sometimes. :)

The Phrase

Anyways, I wanted to share my feeling of relief (that she is just normal like us) with her by telling her that I just thought the same thing (i.e. the big statement being a lie) and to put it into words, I had two choices - I could either say
1. I just thought so too. Or
2. I just thought that.

and what do I do? I combine both while speaking it out, the result being "Just thought tats ". Wait, if you are paying attention - you would notice that I said "Just thought tats" - the letter "I" is missing here. Where is the "I"?

What happened to the "I"?

I normally do not say "I" alot as I think it is selfish to use it much. I will explain in a bit why I think so. (if you read carefully, I used "I" 5 times in the last 2 sentences. So much for not using "I" huh? Don't worry, I already know I am a hypocrite. I saved you the trouble. There I go with the "I" again. hahaha! ).

Also, my mentor Rodney taught me email manners long ago and he said "If you have to describe something you did or something about you (i.e. you are the subject/actor) and want to start a sentence with the letter 'I' - just omit 'I'. It is implied coz people talk about themselves all the time. If you are talking - chances are you are talking about yourself and hence no need to specify that it is indeed you who did that great little thing and no one else. People get it so dont stress on it."

Let me show you an example of what he meant. Both the following sentences describe a simple in event in a person's life but notice the difference it makes when you put it in a certain way. Think of this as your friend's facebook status update :

Sentence 1:
"I watched a movie at my house and I had a great time with my friends"

sounds a bit too arrogant although there is nothing wrong with this sentence. If you are an immigrant, you are more likely to use this form of sentence as you are basically translating from your mother tongue (coz we think in our mother tongue first) and in the enthusiastic effort to be more clear in communication, you appear arrogant unintentionally. When some American (whose mother tongue is English) hears it - it sounds like : "It is you (not someone else) who watched a movie, at your house (not anywhere but in your precious little mansion) and with your friends (not with someone else's idiotic friends but with your own bunch of idiots)". As you can see, the whole point is lost - now he thinks you are too full of yourself as you did not need to specify each and every time that it is you, it is implied. This is more of a cultural difference than language. You can just let go the "I" and "my" and say it in a non-arrogant way.

Sentence 2:
"watched a movie at home and had a great time with friends".

You can see I am not referring to myself so much here and which makes me sound normal and not like an egoistic emperor. Although there are times when you must use 'I'. Like when I am blogging. I must use 'I' and cannot do without it. :)

More Wisdom

I can just stop here with the "I" lecture but since I already put so much effort into it, I'd like to add another important point here. I tend to avoid "I" in email communication involving team or even just me. I either omit it or use "we" instead if there is a partner in crime. I use "we" even though the other party did not do much but thats between him/her and me. Isn't it? (Well, if your mate is a pain in the ass - then you can just use "I" but normally using "we" gets you more points as it shows that you are a team player)

Some example emails :
"All, deployed a build - please test" // when I did it alone.
Instead of
"All, I deployed a build - please test my build"

"All, we are planning a potluck this friday." //when there are other people involved even though it's your idea.
Instead of
"All, I am thinking of having a potluck this friday and everyone agrees."

Back to the Phrase

Now that you know what happened to the "I", let's move on the rest of the sentence.

The Original sentences :
1. I just thought so too. Or
2. I just thought that.

The amalgam :
"Just thought tats"

Breaking it down, I think I started it out with "I just thought that" but changed it to "I just thought so". We already know that I dont use "I" much and hence the absence of "I". But what in the world is "tats"?. I have no idea where the "tats" came from. I guess my mind thought that it was a fitting end to the changed phrase. Anyways, the result being some garbage that even I didnt understand. I would have totally missed it if I hadn't recorded it and would continue to do so for the rest of my life without even knowing that I was SME (Subject Matter Expert) on gibberish.

Bottom Line : I talk gibberish even when I am sober. Don't pay too much attention to it, as I will break it down later and blog it for you. :)
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