I walked as fast as I could. Got inside the apartment and locked the door. Still breathing heavily, I tried to comprehend the strange events in the last 20 mins. I tried to put different pieces of my logic together to see if it makes any sense.
Its been quite sometime since I had gone for swimming. I decided to go today even though it was cold. There were very few people in the pool. By the time I had my shower, even they were gone. I was alone in the pool. Great! Not every day you can have the whole pool for yourself. Three dudes, who were smoking, were sitting outside the pool, accompanied by three girls. I started swimming.
Did I hear something? Yes, I heard it more than once. I stopped and looked around. One of the girls was telling something to me. "Your swimming trunks are cool". What? The black trunk with small green circles I was wearing, was actually pathetic. May be she is trying to make fun of me. Thats okay girl, you can be mean, but you cannot irritate me! "Oh Thanks", I replied, faking genuineness as well as I could. The plump girl who commented was at least twice my size(let me call her "Bad Taste Belle" or BTB for easy reference) I call her "Belle" because her friends looked outright scary!
After sometime, all those dudes left the pool. I swam for some more time continuously (the water was pretty cold, so stopping in between was not the best idea) I could hear BTB's friends making lot of noise, I could easily make out that they were looking towards me and making some comments. It was getting darker and the noise was increasing. I finished one more length and came out of the pool. Even the girls got up and started to leave. I avoided looking towards them.
"Hey, can I have your phone number?", BTB was showing the black mobile in her hand.
"Sorry, I don't have a phone". Thank God, I had not got my mobile to the pool!
"Oh okay", she seemed surprised. She could not understand how a person can survive without a mobile. "Hey, you are looking sexy!"
What??? Is she drunk or drugged or plain dumb? She looked as if she could be any one of those. How can a person who never exercises and eats unlimited butter nan and panneer butter masala ever look sexy to anyone? But, who cares! If I had to choose between a true comment and a nice comment, I would pick the latter ;)
"Oh thanks", I was still surprised. On my way out, one of her scary friends even said "Good night".
As I started walking briskly, I started sweating even in that cold weather.
Had I given my phone number, the next call would have been about "Your place or my place?". Don't tell me that I am just imagining. She was definitely not asking my number to discuss about servlets or country music!
I just imagined myself tied by a rope to her cot. Did she have cocaine with her? Or ice knives in her refrigerator?
The Indian Embassy could have got a call about me the next day - not because the visa or I94 got expired - but the man himself!
What if her scary friends had drugged me and dumped me somewhere on the freeway?
All these may seem too far-fetched imagination, but the lonely swimming pool, the bold plump girl and her scary looking friends were enough to frighten anyone.
I had trusted my "instincts", instead of "basic instincts" ;)
And I am still alive!
My outlook express was not responding from the last 25 mins. It was trying to receive just 2 messages. "Did anyone, by mistake, attach Windows Vista to the mail they sent?", I managed to smile even in that frustration. Finally, outlook finished the job. They were 2 forwards!
The first one had the subject "Best Friend". The content was usual - "I am fortunate to have such a friend like you...friends are God's greatest gift...friends make everyday like a sunshine day...if you get this mail back from someone, you know that they also consider you as their best friend...blah blah blah..."
Whats new in this, you might ask. All these quotes were written in images! Add to that, "A - accepts you as you are, B - Believes in you....Z - Zaps you back to reality" (Oh, I hate these "expansion creativity", let me try something like that, for LOVE, L - Life becomes beautiful, O - Offers meaning to our existence, V - Very valuable, E - Enchanting experience)
The second one was a PPT, about "Did you know?"
Did you know that those who love others are the ones who are in need of love the most?
Did you know that people who wear yellow dress are bubbly?
Did you know that people who wear black dress love solitude?....
And the quotations having an image of a couple, a girl in yellow dress, another in black etc.
And the most irritating thing is, I had received the text versions of these umpteen number of times! Before I go further, let me make it very clear. I am not against forwards, not even against large attachment forwards, or any form of communication. I am not a great communicator myself and no expert by any means on this subject. But, I just wanted to write about the thoughts I had and to provide an outlet for my frustration.
I feel the most abused communication form is SMS. Blame it on the hutch and airtel offers of 100 free SMS for 1 rupee daily!
- You are sitting in a boring conference call. (Hey, is there anything called an interesting conference call? ;)) You want to tell something funny to a friend sitting in the other end of the room. Yes, SMS is a great tool!
- You are on the way home, but got stuck up in the traffic jam. Send a message to your mom, saying "Stuck in traffic. May be late". Perfect!
- You are planning to go to a movie. You SMS your friend, "Wanna join for the movie tomorrow?". Your friend has no idea what time is the show or what movie you are talking about. If he is also a SMS freak like you, he will reply "Which movie?". At Least 10 SMS flow around to decide something. A single call of less than a minute could have decided everything! My belief is that call is the better option for a two-way communication, and not SMS!
- Are you one of those who sends 10 Santa-Banta jokes everyday? If you are, for heaven's sake, please remember properly, you might have forwarded the same jokes by email a week earlier.
- If there is something visual, like the picture of a heart using * and #, send it by SMS. It makes sense!
Coming to mails. If the mail is about quotations, they can be sent as text message. You need not have the pictures of babies, mountains or dancing smileys or a PPT slide to convey that. But, if you are sending top view images from Google earth of eiffel towers, taj mahal etc, yes, it makes sense!
Let me talk about communication in offices.
- If there is something crucial and urgent, its better to call the concerned persons or go and talk to them in person. Mail is not the best option (Many email clients are configured to check mails every 30 mins, and not many people change that!)
- If you want to get clarifications from someone at a different location, use voice chat or call them. Dont keep on IM-ing for hours!
- If you are trying to debug something with a person at a different location, use IM along with voice. Voice - to describe things and IM - to copy the stack trace, log contents etc.
To summarize things, I believe communication is mainly about to whom, what and how.
- To whom - Know your audience beforehand. If the mail is about some virus threat, send it to all in your mailing list. If it is about best friends, send it to only best friends or even good friends, not to acquaintances at least (I cant believe anyone having 50 best friends)
- What - Send messages to only those to whom that message matters. Don't send all messages to everyone in your contact list. There is no point sending a forward about Thirupathi Balaji Darshan to your atheist friends!
- How - No means of communication is bad. Think for a moment. Use the most suitable one.
Do I make sense?
You might have known people telling personality traits based on sun signs, moon signs, date of birth, year of birth (oh yes, its a chinese one). I have seen personality tests based on color preferences, answers to particular questions etc. I even had a DOS application which told about your qualities based on the way you built a house!
But, I always wondered why people never analyzed based on people's mail ids. Here is an honest attempt at a never-done-before task.
Disclaimer : This analysis is obviously prejudiced and has no scientific explanation. Any hurt, sadness or anger caused to anyone is purely accidental and simply unavoidable!
If your primary mail is Yahoo...
You love stability. You take calculated risks in life. You dont believe in sudden changes, and you think that hard work is the only way to success. You balance your personal life and career very well. The only regret you have is that people dont give enough credit for what you are worth.
Romance : You make the best pair with people with Hotmail ids. Gmail is also favorable, with some compromises needed. Avoid Rediff types.
If your primary mail is Gmail...
Ambitious is the word to describe you. You are never happy with what you got and aspire for something extra all the time. You are considered genius and maverick by your peers. Your friends somehow find it difficult to understand you, your eccentricities and you have your fair share of enemies as well. You are very dependent on the attention you get from everyone.
Romance : You hit off well with people with Yahoo and Rediff mail ids and not with Hotmail.
If your primary mail is Hotmail...
You prefer to live in the past, most of the times. You are content with what you have got. You feel that having too much only complicates life. You love to daydream and live in a fantasy world. Your friends consider you as indifferent and resistant to change.
Romance : You get along well with Yahoo types. You find Gmail and Rediff types as very eccentric.
If your primary mail is Rediff...
Most of the persons in this group are females or someone with strong feminine qualities. You believe that speed is everything and you are extremely spontaneous. Great starters that you are, you tend to lose that enthusiasm midway. You tend to do many things at one time, which lands you in trouble.
Romance : Though there can be some fireworks, you will have an exciting relationship with Gmail types. You feel that you Yahoo and Hotmail are pretty boring types.
If you have keep on changing your primary mail ids frequently...
You are very fickle minded. You are very flirtatious. You dont feel interested about anything for a long time. You get bored very easily. You dont believe in settled relationships and you have very low emotional intelligence.
Romance : Though you have greater chances that you end up with people similar to you, people with Gmail ids can have a positive influence on you.
If you just have a corporate mail id and no personal mail id...
You live in a world of your own. You hate meeting people in general. Some of you may even be autistic. You are very career oriented and you have very few or no friends. You are gloomy most of the times.
Romance : Learn to smile first. Or else, forget about romance!
So, whats your mail id? :)
It was 8.41 PM. I paused the Spanish movie I was watching. My mind tried to make one final attempt to trick me. It could not find an excuse - the weather was not cold, there was no rain, none of those possible excuses. Procrastination! What a beautiful word for the quality I hate the most. Nothing could stop me from swimming today, I said to myself.
The swimming pool in the apartment was open from Sunday, but I somehow kept on postponing (Yes, I even postpone the things I love the most) There were very few people in the pool. All the "sun-desperate" people had left. After taking shower, I dived into the pool. Water has so much life. I bet, you cant feel depressed there. Aah water! There are very few things that can make me more happy than being in water. I know, all those Linda Goodman followers will say that me being a Cancerian is the sole reason for that!
The pool was quite small, may be 40 ft length and 20 ft breadth. I finished to and fro journey of the breadth. And I was floating on my back. The grey clear skies, a bird on a delayed return to home...serenity. A loud kid started screaming, as if determined to ruin my enjoyable late evening. Then, I covered the length and stopped a while in the middle, when I heard a voice.
"Its pretty cold here, eh", the man was almost shivering.
"No, if you stop swimming, you will feel cold. Keep swimming, you will be fine", I said, passing on the gyaan that my swimming coach had given me long time back.
I swam for a few more minutes. The Gods, I don't know even exist, seemed to listen to my prayers. The loud kid left the pool. I lay there floating on my back, all alone in the pool. Time ceased to exist. All I could listen to was the sound of water waves generated by the beating of my legs. A thousand incoherent thoughts running in my head, which surprisingly, seemed to make absolute sense!
Back into the apartment, with smell of chlorine and a sense of accomplishment, I started thinking of ways to trick my mind not to skip swimming again tomorrow.