Sunday, October 7, 2007

covert operations

Perhaps a week ago, I read in a newspaper an article that advised its readers to find new ways to make friends. The suggestion was that the readers go out and strike up conversations with people they met on their city's public transport. Accompanying this charming article (that included such tips as "try smiling pleasantly" and "comment on the book the person is reading") was a tiny picture of some commuters on a shiny metal subway train.
Now, I do realize that the people who put together the Lifestyle sections of daily newspapers often do not have enough celebrity gossip to go around, but I do wish Indian tabloids would stop printing such articles lifted directly from the non-Indian papers where they were originally featured without even checking that the content is relevant.

Not that I have a problem with making new friends, mind you. I'm all for it; I do it all the time. The problem with this charming suggestion, however, is that the writers have conveniently forgotten to actually imagine the type of public transport that their average reader might take.

It is not very hard to think of the problems that might accompany an attempt to chat up the person nearest to you on an average BMTC vehicle. The very first obstacle to finding a person to develop a lifelong friendship with is the fact that it is very unusual to actually find someone who speaks the same language you do, let alone speaks it well enough to carry on an entire conversation. The other obstacle lies in the way uninvited overtures of friendship are viewed by most people: the women think you want their money, and the men think you want their goods.
(haha, I made teh jokes)

The best way to travel, therefore; and in such a manner that you avoid stares from greasy men and fat old ladies alike; is to pretend you have absolutely no interest whatsoever in your fellow human beings. If you can cultivate a great interest in something no one else can see, so much the better. Develop a laugh you can use: be amused at your surroundings; intrigue everybody!
It is, after all, preferable to be stared at in curiosity and envy than in disapproval and lust lechery.

Edit: This is not a suggestion on how to make friends. This a suggestion that will help you get through your evening without unpleasant incident.

In my opinion, anyway.

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