Monday, December 8, 2008

I Feel Therefore I Suck?: Hey, You, What The Heck Are You Passionate About!

So you're at an interview and they all want to know what you are passionate about. It takes a while for someone to size up the interviewee. There are several things that they want to find out; if you are interested, if you are interesting, if you have the right qualifications, and if, essentially, you fit the bill. It takes a while to seize the moment – to say the right things, to make the right choices. While you sit there, they stare at you relentlessly. They think up questions, you think up answers, and everyone is always trying to think of things to say. The only thing that makes sense to anyone is the idea that both of you are there for a purpose, and until that is decided, you're both going to be stuck in your respective positions.

Sometimes, the most interesting moments are those when no one has anything to say. It takes a while for the moment to sink in. But when it does, it is incredibly interesting; the most fascinating interplay of mutual silences, when no one can come up with a filler to kill the deadpan silence. It is the best moment; people look away. They twirl their pens and pencils and doodle on the scraps of paper in front of them. They make notes sometimes, but you keep wondering what they could possibly infer from the silence; notes like, The subject is currently staring into nothing-ness, awaiting further inquisition. You think, They are currently looking at my face and searching it for possible hints of awkwardness. No, I am not awkward, but they do look eager and desperate to find some evidence of it. Why? Why are they so desperate to discover my awkwardness? Why are they so eager to want me to leave?

At other times, the questioning gets intense and very convivial. They have a lot to ask you. They have a lot that they want to know about you. What have you done, my man? What have you completed? What have I completed? Let's see. I have looked at people and stared at them inside metro trains. I have scribbled on the doors of public toilets and left expletives for unknown people to read. I have washed my undergarments in the river outside. I have waited for people to feed me, to clothe me, to make me drink. I have waited for their affection and recognition. I have done several things. Which of these are you most excited about? Oh, I should like to know more about the dirty words left on toilet doors. Alright. I'll tell you about them. Once, on the door of a very expensive hotel in the city, I accused a very senior government guy of something that could qualify him for immediate arrest under Section 377 of the IPC. I also left certain sage words of advice for his wife and children. I asked them to restrain his use of the internet, where he voraciously expends a lot of his already diminished store of energy. I asked them to hire a whole platoon of female secretaries and officers, instead of the other more vulnerable sex.

I also always make it a point to celebrate my friend's birthday. We eat, we drink, we make merry and then we fall off to sleep. Could I hear some more on that? Yes, sir, but I should prefer not to repulse your genteel sentiments. I should also not like to discuss such matters in public.

So essentially, what we have is a whole sequence of happy interchanges and witty bantering, some serious inquisitiveness, and a lot of earnest face-making. You make your earnest face and you wait for them to make their earnest faces; they inevitably do. But it shocks you how different your imitation is from theirs. Yours looks like a dog masquerading as a puppy. Theirs looks like a hog masquerading as a sheep. The analogy is difficult to understand unless you know that dogs bark and puppies whimper, pigs store fat and sheep generally shear their wool in abundance.

That brings us to the ultimate question: Hey, you, what the heck are you passionate about? Who me? I don't know: I feel sometimes that the world needs to change. I feel that people refuse to think rationally and misinterpret what is meant by others when they vent themselves and express themselves in angry words and deeds, misuse what is given to them. I feel that it needs to be a better place for people to live in, so that we all get to drink from the taps that line the end of off-track settlements and we all get to defecate in places where walls protect you from the humiliation of public spectacle. We all get to eat off plates that are made of metal; not some from porcelain and some off the pavement. We all get to travel to the airport in peace, not some in cars that travel like aeroplanes whose windows shun the world like bastions against the filth just an inch outside the existence of metallic doors, or others packed in truckloads hauled up for the shouting of welcome cheers upon the arrival of Very Important Persons. I'm passionate about the fact the everybody needs land, everybody feels the need to own what is his. I like the man who spoke the other evening and said that the 700 battalions in Kashmir need 100 acres of land each. That each battalion approximately has 1,000 soldiers, totaling 700,000 soldiers in all, all of whom have been deployed to fight 750 Terrorists. I feel for those 57 who died in the Amarnath protests, and those other 2,000 who sustained bullet injuries in their upper body, marking them out as fortuitous targets. I feel for them all. But that's not all. I feel for many other things.

None of them, however, will make you smile and say, it's alright, you can bugger off now.

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