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     Volume 4 Issue 9 | August 20, 2004 |

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"Disorganisational Behaviour"

Aasha Mehreen Amin

There are two extreme types of people in this world. The first type are the organised-cool as cucumber--individuals who have everything chalked out in their life from their retirement plans (at age 23) to the university their six-month-old baby will go to when she grows up. On the other side of the spectrum are the disorganised, completely clueless folk who have no idea what they want to be when they 'grow up'(even at age 57), least of all what their offspring should aim for in adulthood.

Then there are those who are in between the two extremes, some leaning towards the first category and some towards the second. If I were to assess myself, I would easily fall in the second, being a borderline 'Extremely Disorganised Person'. Borderline or delusional? Some would snort.

Okay, you decide. About six months ago I came back from a hectic 10-day trip abroad. The first thing I decided I would do would be to unpack the suitcase and store it away in the cupboard. But guess what? In spite of all good intentions, I had to postpone this activity because of a 101 things -- work, assignments, dinners, visits to relatives, reading the newspaper and so on. Which means that apart from the gifts (some of which I haven't been able to give yet) and the dirty clothes (which thankfully I did without too much procrastination), most of the other stuff are still in that box. A month later, I had to go on another trip. But instead of cleaning the aforesaid suitcase and packing it for the new trip, I decided to find another one and start afresh. After getting hold of the new suitcase, I dumped whatever was in it in the old suitcase plus all the other stuff considered important -- bills, cheque books, letters, stationary, a few books I had promised myself I would read after I got back from the first trip but didn't and miscellaneous items I can't really recall.

From the antecedents, one could easily predict what would happen after the second trip. Again the open suitcase half unpacked, again the bag of gifts not yet given, again the cycle of guilt-procrastination-guilt. Consequently there are now two suitcases lying in the room, both half unpacked, both crying for freedom. So whenever I need an emergency phone number written in one of my seven diaries or when I periodically try to find my cheque book (lost about four months ago) all I need to do is rummage through these suitcases. Now, while I don't necessarily <>find the particular items I am frantically searching for, I do come upon a fair share of surprises. Like a sock stuffed with some cash (which I had thought I had misplaced), a brand new white shirt with curious designs left by a bottle of hotel shampoo, keys to the desk drawer in my office and an old cheque book of an account that no longer exists. These discoveries, while evoking mixed feelings (chewing gum on a silk sari is the less pleasant one), gives the added sense of being always on the move. Anyone finding those suitcases would be in total confusion as to whether I were coming or going. It creates the illusion of a jet-setter, flying off at any time to exotic destinations.

Another positive side to this disorganised state-of-being is that there is little scope and barely any time, to be bored. Whenever I am at a loss as to what chore I must do next, I can at any time find something that I need to look for. Top on the list would be the TV remote control (could it be in the suitcase or inside the pillow case?), notes from a telephone interview written scrupulously on the front and back of an envelope containing my cell phone bill, anti histamine tablets (rummaging can be a sneezy affair), the mobile phone charger (now that the cell is coughing and ready to die any second) and of course -- the item that needs no time or place to be searched -- food. Isn't it funny that whenever you wake up at an ungodly hour, the first thing you think of is something to munch on?

At such a critical moment one has to think fast. Of course one cannot venture into the dark hallway where the holy refrigerator stands and holds all the glorious, mouth-watering delicacies. There could be all sorts of hidden dangers -- slimy cockroaches, marauding rats and the odd ghost or two. So the next best thing is to rack one's brains and think what can be procured within the walls of one's bedroom. Thanks to my DSOB (Disorganised State of Behaviour), there are few times that I have been disappointed. Almost always after half an hour of panicked searching and turning the whole room upside down (driving other occupants to psychosis), I will come across some enormously gratifying treasure. This could be a half full bag of chips (albeit a little soggy but cheesy enough for salivary pleasure), the remains of a Snickers bar stuck in a travel bag or even a half eaten sandwich (forgotten since lunchtime and still waiting in the bag). Nothing can compare with the joy of such a fruitful search. It is an exhilarating, adrenaline-rushing, not to mention, stomach-filling experience.

The morning after is of course anti-climactic. Especially when you wake up with a somersaulting stomach in a room that looks as if it has been robbed by maniacal bandits -- clothes spilling from the drawers, lamps upturned (in case a bar of chocolate had been hidden underneath) and yes, the beloved suitcases lying open with all their contents strewn about on the floor.

It doesn't help to realise that it is you who are to blame for such mayhem. It doesn't help to know that you are late for a ten o' clock appointment and one of your shoes is missing (could it be in the darn suitcase?). At these trying moments it is only natural to be filled with remorse and self-loathing. It is when one fantasises that one has been transformed into the cool-as-cucumber type person. One who wakes up to a tidy room with everything in place including the triangular fold of a turned down bed. One who breezes into the shower and has her whole ensemble laid out since yesterday -- matching earrings, hairband and all. One who glides into her clothes instead of battling with buttons and hooks, who sedately sits at the breakfast table and eats golden brown toast with caramel coloured tea instead of stuffing half her breakfast in her bag for later . . .

Of course all this is momentary wishful thinking. All too soon one is crudely brought to reality by the sharp pain in one's foot when one steps on the heel of an upturned shoe (at least it has been found) and the loud clatter of cosmetics, stationary and even a plate or two on the floor as you get up from the bed. Everything seems crashing in on you, literally -- when wonder of wonders -- what do you find sticking out of a dusty shoe box -- your long lost, still valid cheque book! It is at this point that it may dawn on one that sometimes it takes a pro in 'disorganisational behaviour' to work such miracles.

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