Saturday, January 16, 2010

Train of Thoughts

So we crossed paths today. We may cross paths again on the morrow, the following week, or in the distant future; or perhaps, never again. We may, one near or far day, be on the friendliest terms, or the closest of friends. Right now, though, we're just new acquaintances at the same table for lunch, and it would suit me just as well if we all simply ate in silence. I see that you, like any well-brought-up people, consider it appropriate and well-mannered to be amiable and social, so you feel compelled to say something to me. Did you just ask something of me? Oh, you asked me something...

Yes - I am from this faculty. Are we going in that direction? You have not yet told me your name, nor have you asked for mine. I don't mean to slight your kind effort to get to know me, but I am busy now - see my downcast eyes and fierce look of concentration as I struggle with this tiny piece of dry, tough chicken. Ah, I see you are now talking to each other and you're doing real fine. Go on. What is this? You're bent on asking and answering questions of such personal nature? Well, I suppose it's fine that I now know where you're from, where you currently live, where you did your undergraduate and graduate studies, how many years you were in which country, what you worked on, what you want to work on, and your marital status. Please don't, just don't say anything about trying for babies - I really don't need to know that at all - oh, you're not saying it... what a relief!

What about me? Sorry, I wasn't paying total attention to the on-going conversation. Has the focus now shifted to me? Wait, let me first swallow this mouthful I'm chewing - there. So, now you want to know where I live? Gosh, do we have to go that way again, with me? Think! Right - that's right, from where I live, the traffic doesn't usually get very much congested on the way to and back from work. How about for you, my new friends? How about we discuss rush hours traffic conditions for a bit? From there we can move on to Malaysian road conditions, the horrible, grossly unjust things that tolls are, and even the weather, if it pleases you... and let us just finish our lunch in this light-hearted, pleasant manner.

What's that talk about home, parents and family I hear? Are we moving in that direction again? How many times can one change the topic of interest without appearing odd? Will this obstinate piece of chicken give way to my fork and spoon already? Hurry, finish the last morsel! There! Take polite leave of everyone, wipe that absurd glee off your face and don't appear so desperate to escape... now, walk away at a reasonably normal pace, don't run!

It's not that I object to a heart-to-heart, tell-all-out conversation - just not... right now. I have behaved very badly. I apologise.

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