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      Volume 10 |Issue 22 | June 10, 2011 |


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Woes of the Misunderstood


One of the basic rules of being human is to be misunderstood, at least ninety percent of the lifespan allotted to each person. You may now understand why so much emphasis has been placed these days on 'effective communication', 'being articulate', 'clarity of thought when expressing through writing', speaking, miming etc. It is for the sole purpose of making sure one's well-intentioned ideas are not misunderstood as they may have the most awful consequences.

Politicians, no doubt, are always misunderstood. When they loftily say they will make sure that by the year 2010 every village of the country will have electricity, that there will no longer be any water crisis anywhere and that rice will be sold at 1950s prices, people may actually take such promises at face value. At least at the beginning of a government's term when everything is new, rosy and delusional. Then when things go all awry, when a brain surgery is interrupted because of power failure, when localities go without water for weeks and rice becomes a luxury item, people tend to get a little angry and may throw proverbial rotten tomatoes at the politicians through their voting right which seems the only thing one can believe in these days. It is then that the politician feels misunderstood. Is it his/her fault that the relatives, even the ones that suddenly crop up out of nowhere, the vague acquaintances, friends, relatives of friends, relatives of relatives – all just have to have their demands met? That the brother-in-law must have the tender for a power plant otherwise the missus will go on strike? That the bhagina (nephew) Cadre-in-Chief will get 'upset' unless the WASA supply is redirected to his house as well as those of his friends and family? That the rice syndicate will scowl with displeasure if it is not allowed to hoard some grain to hike up the price? It is all a series of misunderstandings that the politician must suffer, the biggest one from his bewildered voters who may take the only revenge they can take-by voting for his/her rival in the next election.

But if it is real drama we are talking about, misunderstanding seems to be part and parcel of any romantic relationship. Partners are prone to misunderstand each other at the drop of a hat. When he says he's sleepy and wants to sleep after seven hours on the phone the first thing she thinks is 'Oh he must be getting bored with me. Maybe there's someone else...' The truth is the poor guy really is practically drooling at the mouth with sleep and is in danger of uttering the wrong response when the object of his affection asks him something: She says, 'Do you think I look a bit like Katrina Kaif?' and without thinking (how can he, he's halfway to Slumberland) our Romeo says "Of course not! That's ridiculous!" The relationship from then on may take a bit of a dip, to say the least.

Misunderstandings between bosses and employees are perhaps the most painful. When the boss calls you and your father is calling you repeatedly thinking you are in an accident/have been kidnapped/on the verge of jumping off a seven-storied building, you are desperately trying to discreetly text him that you are fine and in a meeting with the boss so please stop calling. The boss has just asked you about the update on a very important project you are in charge of and is waiting for your answer while you are trying your best to a) lower the volume of your ring tone that says "Ooh baby baby..." and b) trying to switch off the language prediction command so you can text like a normal person. This momentary lapse of attention may create doubts in your boss's mind regarding your seriousness about your work, your sense of manners, not to mention your maturity at the choice of ring tone. It's no use trying to explain such things as you stammer some inaudible excuse. The damage has been done. More so if some of your colleagues decide to make monkey faces outside the glass door just behind your boss's back.



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