Silent Treatment, Day 1

Ever since I read the Emily Yoffe’s article, I always wanted to try an experimental vow of silence – the “maun vrat”. But just like my every other plan, this too came unplanned. I just saw Abhineet off (who, by the way, seemed to be okay, but I believe in the depths of insider stories rather than ripples of surface courtesy) and was coming back from Madhuban Chowk when I suddenly, inexplicably realised –  the moment had come.

I had always imagined it to be a surreal experience. We people are so used to broadcast ourselves that we have stopped to actually listen to people around us. They have reduced to mere springboards for our own echo. And I didn’t want any of it – I wanted be like a cool, calm, hip Buddha under the tree. So, I thought I’ll be this sponge which will absorb all the knowledge, good or bad, without my own bias filtering through.

But I guess dreams should remain dreams. Ironically and as a separate concern, I had all kinds of (actual) scary dreams even before I could witness the first sun of my “silent” week. In all of them, I was in various places, mostly with Megha and laughing with her how the idea was stupid and how I had broken my vow. Mind you, it was just 4 hours since I tied my tongue.

When I woke up to realise they were silly, funny dreams, I laughed (silently). But then to my utter horror, I realised a bigger truth, that my sub-conscious didn’t believe in me to just shut up. And I have to concede, that part of my brain knows me well enough.

It is very difficult not to talk. You may think to see is far more important but trust me when I tell you one just can’t live without a voice. Even when people don’t have audible voice – they develop a gesture based language; when they can’t be seen, they develop a written language. It is a basic need for humans to communicate. I learned it the hard way.

I was sitting with Mummy in the morning when she was talking about random things. But I couldn’t get myself interested because I was feeling no better than a piece of furniture. And I couldn’t even communicate how her talk was only infuriating rather than exciting me; she blissfully unaware of the turmoil inside me briefed me about the recent Ramdev saga and tabla. I had to finally type her a message (Rulebreak#1). She read, laughed and went on about her business. As she was going out, Surbhi called. I handed the call to Mummy and explained to her in sign language that I couldn’t talk due to Maun Vrat. She passed on the message to Surbhi on the line. When I met Surbhi downstairs, I handed her the things she needed and when finally parting, I had to gesture so that she could know Mummy was not joking. Her eyes went big in surprise and she went away laughing. I came back.

After Mummy and Papa had gone to office I was alone. For the next 7 hours, I was simply feeding myself with recent MS news and Joss. In-between I forgot my silent vow. I instructed Nancy to not irritate me (Rulebreak#2). And then Vishu came to give some prasad from their recent visit. I started chatting (!) and laughing with her, when I just hushed myself (Rulebreak#3). I gestured so she could know I couldn’t speak. I decided to be more careful.

But I had no reason to be. Until about 7 pm, I had no contact whatsoever with the outside world. But then came Mummy and I was doing well when Megha’s SOS message came to fetch her from bus stop. I  asked Mummy, amid the hurry to rush out, to give Rs 100 (Rulebreak#4). In my defense, it was better this time around. I had caught myself mid-sentence. Getting better!

When I reached bus stop Megha was not there. Wow. When a hero goes to the rescue  of a damsel-in-distress who in turn keeps him waiting, disappointment is not the only feeling possible, anger is also imminent. I was burning and imagining all kinds of retorts when after about five minutes I spotted Megha. She was beaming at me and updated me on how her exams went (she has got a surefire bach, by the way). Since she was expecting no kind of feedback she told me about many general things on the way back home. In no time, my anger ebbed away and I was genuinely interested in her ramblings (This served an important lesson to me – the first one from this experiment –  but I’ll serve the results of my experiences as a sum total at the end of the week alongwith many others over the period).

It was on the mobile recharge shop that things got interesting. I had to somehow tell Megha that I wanted a 49 Voda message card without actually telling. But I relaxed the rules for the moment and tried to play sign language with her until she made me type ‘49’ on the cell. And when he asked for my phone number, I fumbled for my cell as I couldn’t tell him my number. He showed sympathy and offered calculator to type in my number. But he remained professional like nothing odd was going on. Nice!

Well, I came home and was helping Mummy with some chores in the kitchen. When she asked me how many chapatis I wanted for dinner, I was already feeling quite guilty and reckless for my behaviour since the afternoon. Thus I simply gestured I don’t know. But she needed a clear number and (rightfully) was irate that I was selfish enough to ask for money just minutes earlier but couldn’t blurt a single letter now. When Megha came to me for my bit on this infuriating oddity of mine, I explained how I beamed a sign of two, but Mummy must have missed it (my gesture for her was a combination of a surprise and a two made by fingers; don’t underestimate the power of sign language). It was enough to cool people down, but the murky details lie with me which I have confessed here so you can see how difficult it is to play by the rules when you are the one who makes them. You just don’t know whether to relax them and when. Anything can go wrong. And thus I made them clearer – no talking, no lipsing, no texting, no communication except rudimentary gestures.

Everyone was settling in their beds by now, and I spent another 2-3 hours searching for more MS news (Xbox just got a Metro update. Yay!). And just now, I was trying to explain to Papa how Nancy found sitting on my bed doesn’t equate my explicit permission but only passive ignorance. I committed a grave mistake in the process, unfortunately (Rulebreak#5).

The pattern here is I’m more prone to my forgetfulness after prolonged periods of being alone. Have to be careful tomorrow!

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Published in: on 7 Jun '11 at 2 pm  Comments (2)  

Live Like You’re Dying, Day One: Studying Like Never Before

Well this is the third day of the year, and I already don’t know what to do with the remaining 363 days. So, I’ve decided to transform this blog into a record of my intended activities that I don’t take up either due to laziness or due to lack of will. I wished more people would have read my blog coz this simply means I’ll be more responsible towards what I say. Therefore, I’ve started to publish the posts on FB also. So, here I begin what I want to do.

I have decided to start a series ‘Live Like You’re Dying’ – where I would simply take up something I want to do before my imminent demise. There are many things I ought to do, I need to do and I want to do. But they always been on the backburner due to more immediate concerns.

 

AimTo study for a minimum of 15 hours before I sit in the exam tomorrow. Only the time actually devoted to learning will be counted.

DifficultyMedium

Why – It’s my exam tomorrow and I have not taken it seriously. FB is the culprit, and so is my Lappie. But no more. I’ll do it – 1) because I need it, and 2) because it means I can achieve unrealistic targets, as I have never in my life studied for more than 10 hours, even in the direst of situations.

Plan – I’ll get my cell and charge it fully. Coz it will be my constant companion in this life-critical mission. It will serve as a timer-cum-alarm-cum-clock for me. I’ll say no-no to Lappie completely. Let’s see where can I dump it for a day. But hey! It’s my Java exam and I need to do programming. So, I’ll hide my ethernet wire somewhere. And have to collect all my books, pen, food, water, pillow et al in one place to minimise wastage of time.

 

Wish me good luck, as this is my debut adventure. Don’t want to fail at the start line.

Published in: on 3 Jan '11 at 12 am  Leave a Comment