Thursday, January 13, 2005

The common difference
I was telling my mom that I always prefer three people hanging out together as opposed to two for the simple reason that the onus to maintain a conversation doesn't lie on me; I can just play the silent listener for a while and catch a breather.

Every now and then I bump into people whom I meet occasionally and 2-3 mins into the conversation the uncomfortable silence seeps in. This normally happens to be a cue to end the conversation and move on but often you are in a situation where the show must go on e.g. two people sitting next to each other in a bus, waiting for an elevator, standing in the lunch queue etc. The standard new-conversation-starter that I use then is - "You look different. Hmmm! I don't know what it is, but you look different."

The advantage of this line is that the other person instantly bursts into endless options which leads to newer topics for discourse - "Oh, I have lost weight", "It must be the tan. We went for a trip to ...", "Yes, even my sister told me that ..." BUT but but - every now and then this backfires too and the person skillfully dodges the googly and tosses it back to you with the "Really? What is it?" line. That forces you to pretend that you are actually trying to think of a difference." My favorite escape from this situation is "It's your hair. Have you cut it?" This normally works brilliantly too - because nobody's ever sure of their hair being the same. Also - hair grows; so it is safe to assume that the hair is probably of a diff size than when you last met the person.

Sadly, today even this dint work. I asked this person I met after almost 6 months "is it your hair?" and he replied back saying "no, my hair always looks the same. always. always." I was stumped. Thankfully, the elevator arrived just then - yahooo!

I found that the Clothes strategy works pretty well. Say, "you look different in these clothes". As most of us are by-products of life-style obsession, we have a fair chance of advancin the conversation.Actually, the hair-thingy mite hurt w.t.t. blad or semi-bald people :-p
that's a good one too but not when you are largely dealing with Indian grad students and techies like I do. They almost have an uniform out here - shirt/t-shirt, denim from India and the occasional sweat shirt bearing the alma mater's name. But, yes - I agree that with women it's a far better strategy than hair - actually with women it's very safe to say "I think you have lost some weight" too :)
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