The last ten-odd days have been trying. A lot has been happening to and with people around me. Which has meant that I’ve been in situations where I needed to be diplomatic, polite and discreet. Like the other evening, I asked a simple question and got a simple answer. All good. Then I’m told that I shouldn’t tell anyone of this simple answer because the person who told me isn’t legally allowed to do anything other than be a tourist in India. Okay then. Someone else wanted to be buried neck-deep in soil and I will not tell you who. Yet another person I know of is having a baby, and again I will not tell who. Not because disclosing the information would get me killed or any such thing but just because it would be indiscreet to do so, especially since these are all random people whom I barely know. It’s not hard to keep a secret for those with whom we’re close but not gossiping about the random bits of information that float past about strangers, that’s hard. As someone said to me, if you don’t turn to life for writing material, then where will you go and if you can’t invade the privacy of strangers, then whose will you invade?
But I’ve been good. I’ve displayed discretion, made all the right noises, looked concerned when I should, sounded philosophical when it was required, schooled expressions and generally behaved like socially well-adjusted human being who doesn’t embarrass those around her. Is it too much to expect others to do the same? Apparently, it is.
First, an acerbic young thing I met the other day said without any preamble, “Your little blog, that anonandon thing? It’s become a little boring, by the way.” There are other people with us who blink at me and ask, “You blog?” I make some noises that are meant to change the subject. “What? It’s not like it’s a dirty little secret,” says the person who is bored by this blog. Now, this is true. A blog is not much of a dirty little secret but I’m old and boring and I don’t talk about my blogging, so consequently, it’s close enough. “I liked it back when you were talking about periods and stuff,” my critic continued. Technically, I think they should have been feeling embarrassed about publicly declaring that they enjoy reading about menstrual blood but there I was, knocking back my gin and tonic and unable to meet the eyes of the people who have no doubt labelled me “the one who blogs about periods and stuff”. Wonderful.
Then there’s yoga. I started doing yoga a few months ago with the hope that it would help me lose weight. Nothing of the sort has happened but at least now I’m fat, fit and flexible, rather than fat, unfit and immobile. Along the way, some people dropped out and I found myself in a new batch, filled with “senior” ladies, as they call themselves. Not a problem, I thought, until I found myself in class, listening to my instructor — who is old enough to be gran to a 4-year-old and flexible enough to make a pipe cleaner feel stiff –, say, “Now we will do pranayam. Close your eyes. Breathe in, hold your breath, close your anus.” Excuse me? I decided to just wait it out till the next set of breathing exercises. Finally, our instructor asked us to open our eyes and explained that this particular pranayam is excellent for anyone who has a tendency towards piles. Lovely. One of my classmates piped up, “Can we do that one that you said would help with my urine problem?” Did I need to know she has a “urine problem”? No, but you learn something new every day. “We’ll do something similar,” said my instructor. “Breathe in deeply, hold your breath, tighten your navel, close your vagina. Tighten, close as tightly as you can, hold your breath. Now slowly release your vagina, slowly exhale. Ok? ” Er, no. “This is very good for women post-menopause because it will really help to tighten the vagina.” Then the instructor paused, looked at me and said, “You don’t need it just now but it can be useful for you also, for more control, you know.” Suddenly, without warning, my yoga class has turned into a gathering of Vatsyayana‘s acolytes.