Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

180. Game

"How was the marriage ceremony?" the moment I stepped in, Sudhir's grandmother asked.
I was little surprised at that question. Because not only Sudhir's grandma did not know the bride and the groom (and their families), she also did not know me well enough to ask this question. 

Sudhir is my friend's - Nirmala's - husband. I was in the town to attend one marriage - which I could not afford to avoid due to my close relations with both the families involved in the marriage. I had taken this opportunity to stay with Nirmala and to chat with her. 

"Oh, it was good," I answered grandma with a smile and immediately switched the topic. Grandma naturally had more questions to ask but my reluctance was visible to her too. Fortunately at that moment Sudhir came. 
"How was the marriage ceremony?" Sudhir asked. Though Nirmala was my close friend, I had hardly met Sudhir. We knew each other mostly through Nirmala. So I glanced curiously at Sudhir. I get tired of entertaining people in a meaningless way. So, I completely ignored Sudhir's question and said, "Sudhir, did you see the news of this new scam?" (That was equally meaningless question!).

Sudhir smiled clearly showing his understanding of my thought processes. He pushed the easy-chair in front of me and said, "Now just relax. I will bring you a cup of coffee. Nima would be joining us any moment."

And Nirmala came. Surprisingly, she too asked the same question: "How was the marriage ceremony?" 

That was it. "Nima, the marriage ceremony was like any other normal marriage ceremony. The bride and the groom put garlands, the Pandits and some of the old ladies sang mantras, people queued for lunch, the video cameraman's presence was overwhelming .... Is it not that each marriage ceremony is the same except for the changes in few details? One glance at the invitation cards tells you what to expect!!" 

Nirmala must have sensed boredom in my voice. After a moment's pause, she said, "Well, there are certain things which are beyond all this obvious. I know you don't like to attend these ceremonies but you attend because you don't want to hurt people's beliefs. You also look at this opportunity to meet many people. So when I asked, 'how was the marriage ceremony?' what I wanted to ask was - 'Did you meet any other friends? Did you enjoy the gathering?' Now that you answered with such irritation only shows that your time was not well spent."

In spite of my irritation I smiled. That is the specialty of Nima. She always speaks in such terms that I can understand. 

I turned to Sudhir. "Sorry, Sudhir, and what did you really want to know?"

Sudhir said, "Like Nima, I was also interested in knowing whether you enjoyed. Also I think we have similar views on  the give and take part, the show of wealth in these ceremonies and the meaningless rituals etc. I wanted to know your remarks on these aspects of the ceremony."

"And what was Grandma's intention?" I asked feeling little guilty.  

"Oh, being a lady from old generation, Grandma was naturally interested in knowing about ornaments, menu, rituals etc" Sudhir answered with smile. 

"Oh! Then why don't we ask directly what we want to ask? Why the mask of words? Is it not confusing that each one of you wanted different set of knowledge but used the same words?" I was talking to myself but spoke out aloud. 

Sudhir smiled again. He said, "How can we change language? Sometimes the direct questions sound very rude and undesirable. Instead of that why don't you take a challenge of interpreting the question in the right way? It all depends on the persons with whom you are conversing and your relationship with that person. We keep on using the same words, but each one has a different expectations from the same words, for each of us the hidden meaning of the words is different. It is a game of interpretation. One has to play it with interest and not get irritated. In reality everyone plays this game ...."

Same words, with different meaning, with different intentions, with different expectations. 
This seems to be an interesting and challenging game. 



  1. yes this is somthing wonderful.I liked the blog very much.The same question asked by different persons with different expectation. I fully agree with Sudhir.In relationship it is very important to have the skill of interpreting the question or statement or comment or dialogue in the right way.
    I do not consider it as a game but a matter of understanding or wisdom. nutan.

  2. And we play that game ever so often, and not just in India, interpreting the real questions behind the words!

    May be you had a bad day that day? :)

  3. Nutan,
    You can give it any name, but you have follow the set rules :-)

  4. Sunilbhai, '
    Bad day? Maybe, I did not like the food that day :-)

  5. Thats true Aativas. We may end up overreacting without getting the actual intention behind the questions posed at us.

  6. Jayashreejee - yes, over-reaction is always possible. Better to understand intention first and then respond :-)

  7. its great marketing skill to talk in such a way

  8. sm, well, this is another perspective! Had completely missed it so far!!

  9. We often take language very.... scientifically!! Trying to understand and respond to what is being said...plain and straight.

    but there is so much "between the lines"! If we miss that, there would be no joy in a conversation! And no conversation further!

    Now I will pay more attention to the conversations! There might be so much that could be missed out!

  10. Anujna, yes, conversations always have deeper meanings than we assume. And sometimes they are shallow when we assume that they are meaningful . it is another kind of game!

  11. liked it as always !
    But this game becomes too difficult sometimes.. ! :(

  12. Apurva, the game is difficult and hence interesting!!

  13. Yes words convey different meanings at different times. One has to develop skills to make use of them appropriately.

  14. PNS Sir, yes this is a life-skill indeed!

  15. Loved your blog Savita. Read a few posts today :-)
    Yes, everyone talks in abstract language it seems and some general phrases are used to converse while the real intention is something else. We normally do this with people who we don't know much probably...
    Your posts are intriguing.

  16. And, it was nice meeting you and coming to your blog now :-)

  17. Thanks a lot Sangeeta for your visit and for your kind words.


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