Tuesday, 16 July 2013

You know you are old when...

Its a late hour and a lonely park, and you, guilt-ridden after a wedding feast, try to redeem the gluttony with a quick walk. A fancy car suddenly stops under the darkest tree, and a young man gets out and starts walking towards you. (You know you are old when) You are not afraid. The man comes to you and ask for directions to a nearby cafe. You give him directions, and also recommend - unasked - some of the choicest pastries he should have while he is there. He looks lost, then tells you he has an hour to kill, and if he could walk with you. You roll your eyes, and say yes, because he has just told you that he is afraid of the dark and you feel sorry for that poor chap. You both walk. He asks you what you do, and you fall back on the job you had six years ago and tell him you are a journalist. Not to impress, but just to get a conversation going, where you can hog the attention with all the story telling. He tells you his sister is a journalist too, and you ask, "Really, which newspaper?", to which he replies, "It's you". (You know you are old when) You are not amused or irritated, just bored, so you start asking him questions instead. He tells you he is a computer science student, studying in Mysore and here in the city on a project. You ask him about the project, the scope, the team he is working with, his strengths, and yes - even something about his campus Entrepreneurship Cell. He half-heartedly tackles your questions, tells you he is collecting information on "hardware and software" from companies. You ask, "What companies? What hardware? What software? What do you mean by hardware-and-software?" He cannot answer any of your questions and you start feeling sorry about the poor state of affairs in private colleges and his pitiable communication skills. He changes the topic, asks you if you are married. You pause to think of the 21 items in your today's list to keep your marriage going - pick the car from service station, buy milk for tea, dryclean the curtains, plan a weekend getaway, and so on - and say yes, you are. He says "oh!" and stays quiet for a while. He asks, "Where do you stay?". You reply vaguely, "Down the road". You are suddenly worried he might invite himself over, and (You know you are old when) there is no milk for tea or snacks to chew and you are too full to indulge in any goddamn hospitality. He asks if your husband is travelling. You say, "No". Another question, "Is he home right now?" You answer, "Yes". He walks a few more steps with you, turns around and says he has changed his mind and he is leaving. (You know you are old when) You say goodbye and go back to wondering if a few more rounds would do you any good.