The Art of Blending In

Some people thrive on change. Me,I spend my time trying to control everything so that everything remains the same.

Written by Nonita Kalra | New Delhi | Published: August 26, 2012 9:53 pm

Some people thrive on change. Me,I spend my time trying to control everything so that everything remains the same.

Some people thrive on change. Me,I spend my time trying to control everything so that everything remains the same. Sure enough,my journey is full of constant upheavals and instead of showing great resilience,I resort to stony sullenness. Tinged with a ton of resentment. This particular character trait is really letting me down in the latest phase of life. Currently,I am forced to live a bi-coastal life since my partner has been transferred to Hong Kong. My loathing towards travelling is well documented,but I think it is going to be overshadowed by my aversion to change.

Living in two cities is not exciting. There is nothing romantic or thrilling about it. For a start,your routine goes for a toss. Every time you need something,you discover it is in an entirely different cupboard in a totally different country. And yes,having a friend’s network outside of Facebook becomes a virtual reality. As an instinctively social race — given that most Indians come from extended families — we tend towards large gatherings. What else could explain our love for a crowd and our complete inability to give each other personal space? So what does one do when thrown into a foreign situation? We hang out together as a crowd as it gives us a sense of having made new friends without making any extra effort. It is moot if there is any genuine affection in that relationship but who is to question a matter of convenience?

But if you want to be a pioneer and make new friends,here is a rough guide to how to do it: don’t bother. If you have been a reasonably social and engaging person you probably have enough friends,good friends,dear friends,old friends that you haven’t seen in ages. Largely because you haven’t had the time to catch up with them. What makes you think that with you spending your life on a plane you will have any spare time to add new acquaintances to your life? Frankly,there are a lot of wonderful people you haven’t seen in an age because you haven’t had the inclination to catch up with them. In fact,if you are really,really brutally truthful,if time spent together was a factor in keeping an association,you would be hitting the “unfriend” button a lot.

But if you still choose to disregard my advice,and feel that companionship defines a city experience then here are a few rules on how to do it. First,throw away everything you learnt at school and college. You aren’t a child anymore,not even a callow youth,so don’t interact with people that way,like you used to. So forget all about the instant BFF connection. Don’t get competitive and play one friend against another — if you do that you will be the only one being kicked out of the group. And don’t,don’t,don’t use ridiculous American sitcoms like Desperate Housewives or Gossip Girl,depending on whatever your age is,as a guide to friendship. If I am not mistaken,those girls end up in jail more than a few times because of their bonding.

Rude advice aside,I guess the most important quality you need is the ability to listen. Everyone loves a good listener. In fact,if all you do is listen,people will soon comment on what a lovely person you are. And if you are really keen to impress,remember to always agree. Nothing seals the deal more than an agreeable person. Do that more than twice and you will be renowned as a person of great sense and sensibility. Do this even if you don’t think anyone makes any sense. Do you really need to share your opinions with people who will be your friends of convenience? Ask your self this: is it worth having an argument with someone you will never meet again once you change your city zip code? To seal the deal,come prepared with a huge list of inane topics to discuss. Like the weather. You will be surprised how much that helps people bond. Ask for advice. It endears you. Since everyone these days is a Zagat critic you will get endless lists of restaurants,cafes and cool spots — the secret address book to a city is common to all but no one acknowledges this peculiarity. What this will lead up to is extreme “likeability”. New relationships aren’t about being liked for who you are. It’s all about being as bland as possible and fitting in without being noticed.

But if you want to meet people like yourself and make real friends,go back to my original advice. Don’t try. Don’t go out looking. If you search too hard,the stink of desperation that you exude makes you very,very unattractive. If you are happy and confident you will attract people just like your self. People who aren’t looking. People you would actually like to know.

tothemannerborn@expressindia.com

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