Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The first star on the right and keep straight on till morning...

I don't understand directions.

I'll say it again in case you missed it the first time around, I don't understand directions.

I don't understand east or west or north or south. I mean, alright, I know what they look like on a map, but I am completely incapable of translating that into real life. It took me three months of sheepishly asking - Excuse me bhaisahab/aunty/scary looking person/obvious druggie, east kis taraf padega?" - to figure out that it was the railway line which delineated east from west and not the western express highway (and I have no idea where I got THAT idea).

I don't know that roundabout at Bhulabhai Desai Road. I've never seen the footbridge near Chowpatty and I definitely do not know how to get to the Barista at linking road. Hell, I don't even know how to get to blasted linking road!

And people, it's not that I don't try, I do. Honest, truly I do! It's just that, when you spend all of your traveling time day-dreaming while looking out of windows, you don't end up registering things like roundabouts and footbridges and the like.

The thing is, my brain (for reasons best known to itself) registers as landmarks, things which unfortunately don't fit any previously known definitions of that word. Like bill-boards. Now those, The Brain remembers. Directions like - "straight down from the Tanishq board with the woman with Amanda-the-panda eyes, then the left after the Lays Chaat Street board with Preity and Saif" - will get me there everytime! But you see the problem with that don't you? Tanishq lady? Preity? Saif? For the love of anything you hold sacred, wouldja please stay on those damned boards? Bill-board-people, I'm begging you! Help me, lest I spend the rest of my living days in bewildered wandering, through the streets of bombay.

This impairment is not restricted to Bombay though. I've been equally tried in Delhi - The city where it's perfectly normal to find house no. 42 happily rubbing red roof-tiles with 'The Baweja House' at no.103 which in turn, chummily shares a boundary wall with 'Shanti Van' at no. 7.

In Delhi, my brain remembers bus stops. Bus stops, which the Delhi Municipal Corporation, happily demolishes every now and then. This penchant for merry destruction, had caused me to walk up and down a street so many times on one dark winter evening, that an ancient panwaala stopped me to ask, "Beta, tum dhoondh kya rahi ho!?". I couldn't very well say, "Yahan ek bus stop huaa karta tha", and look like a complete doofus now, could I? And so the story continued.

Back then, I'd try really hard to understand the directions people gave me. There'd be smoke coming out of my ears with all the effort of mental mapping going on in my head. I'd start out okay, but the mental map would last no further than the first five steps in the right direction. Then everything would just melt like jelly left out too long. Buildings would morph into each other and the streets would just run into each other and merge, like so many rivulets just dying to get back together for a jolly little reunion.

Nowadays, the first thing I do when people start giving me directions, is tell them that I'm seriously navigation impaired and that nothing they say will make any sense to me - but it doesn't help. The result will be extreme enthusiasm and even more intricate directions, which ensure, that inside my head I'm weeping with frustration, while outside, I'm putting on my earnest-listener-and-genuinely-try-to-understand-er face. I have been known to nod enthusiastically and acknowledge (fake) understanding with cries of "Oh, that roundabout/footbridge/barista! Of course I know it!", just so that The Direction Giver would just, please, stop already!

I've even gone to the extent of telling The Direction Givers that I'm going to feign understanding and nod at appropriate times - you'd think that that'd dissuade them, but no. Their next step is to look at me fondly and say, "Look it's really simple. All you have to do is, *insert incomprehensible directions here*"

So, imaginary people, If there ever comes a day when we decide to meet, do me a favour and let me pick the place. Or just tell me where to be, but don't, please don't tell me how to get there.

1 comment:

Virgo Guy said...

read ur blogs for the first time today ... u have a freakish quality ... that of a zillion things running in ur mind when u write .. and they compete with each other to hog the next words u write. Settle down a bit and ur writing will improve, not that u dont write jolly well right now.