in situ: part 1

The in situ series of posts is excerpts from an online conversation I had with two friends who are readers of my private blog. These posts may best be read serially, and with some leisure time at hand. Links to the following posts are at the end of each post.

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I need someone to talk to. That seems to be my biggest need, greatest thirst, the thing that is most missing from my life. I need someone who can talk to me. It is horrible not to have had a substantial conversation with a real person in over a month.

Technology cannot solve this problem. I need someone, someone who occupies space, has mass and whose face is lighted up by a sensitive intelligence that I can creatively engage in a conversation. I’ve gone to desperate lengths to find someone like that in Nagpur. And I have failed every single time.

I thought the Deutsch class will be a fertile ground to seek like-minded people – lovers of language who relish the challenge a new language gives you, who love the way a language opens up new ways of thinking and people who are generally aware of the world. But over half my batch is engineering students who are doing this so it looks good on their CV and German automobile companies may employ them. The others in the class are either too obtuse or too young to talk to me.

The little girl I spoke to in class is from Bengal and is in 11th grade. She is a curious mind but she hasn’t developed concrete concepts about her own identity or the world around her. She goes with the flow. Reading trash and watching trash on television. I ended up suggesting better books to her.

The other girl I spoke to called me ‘funny’, ‘my saviour’, ‘smart’ and offered to buy me two chocolates in our very first conversation yesterday. And she wouldn’t stop giggling throughout even as we sat in the first row.

I even messaged the last girl I had a crush on, back in 7th grade, thinking she might be interested in meeting me and talking to me after eight years. She recognised me, I was glad, but then went on to say things like: ‘Hmmm if i hv my grey right ur birthday falls on a 30th, eh?’ and ‘i shud b at least right tht ur a’90 born??….!!!’ And after three messages were exchanged she replied ‘Oops sry i remember whoz date tht is.. Lebbe lotta confusion nd shez a 90 born… Silly me!’ Finally, she sent: ‘Whoa!! Ur ajinkya deshmukh right?’ I said, yes I was, but I was so confused I gave up. Really, she was smart back when I had a thing for her.

I need someone to talk to. This is like solitary confinement of the mind. I have great friends here but they are philistines when it comes to art, literature, politics and other similar stuff that I like to talk about. They are all med students.

Phone calls don’t help. Nor do social networking sites or anything online. If anything, they aggravate the problem. Mostly, the kind of shallow pointless babble that is seen on social networking sites and on Internet fora is not what I am looking for. Even if it’s the telephone, I hear a voice whose owner can be my companion but I know I can’t have that person with me. And it is only so far that you can take a conversation over telephone. Nothing is like the real thing.

The only time I felt in good company in the last six months was when I went to Manipal. No one in my family has the same interests as I do and no one would make a great conversationalist when it comes to me, largely owing to the vast fundamental differences we share. I’m probably the lone atheist here. I don’t like social custom that has no roots in common sense. I hate rituals; I think they are a waste of time. These differences are enough to draw the battle lines clearly indicating who is on which side. Excessively, I find myself alone. I want to discuss a new book? No one to talk to. I want to discuss a new movie? No one has seen it. I want to discuss an ethical/philosophical/theological question? No one who can appreciate fine argument. I don’t even have philosophically aware theists around who I can draw into a conversation about God.

I do not know what to do about this. It feels like the purest, best distilled form of mental agony. It leaves me restless, agitated and angry, maybe. I feel deceived and frustrated. The realisation that there really is no one around me who I can talk to unsettles me.

If a tree fell in a forest and no one ever saw it fall, did it still fall? If great music was written and no one ever heard it, is it still great music? If I have many thoughts but no one to share those thoughts with, do I even exist? What makes Ajinkya exist as a separate and distinct entity from Spunky, my dog, if what I think is never known to anyone but me?

Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.

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