(Disclaimer: This post needs to be taken in the spirit in which it is written – WITH A PINCH OF SALT!)
I am now increasingly becoming convinced that we women are a resident of another planet. I do not know how we live and deal with the Martians – meaning men. I mean communication is probably one of the biggest barriers. We say something and they understand something else.. And then we want something and they give us something else. Oh my God..!!! The simplest of things seems to put the fear of god into them! Let me illustrate with a few examples
Last week I was trying desperately to call the husband while he was in Bangalore. Like most people from his planet his memory fails him when it comes to remembering simple things like sending a message or calling to say that he has reached his destination. When I had not heard from him even after about two hours from the time his flight is supposed to have landed, I decided to call him. The phone rang and rang….! No answer. I sent him a message “Hope you have reached safely”. No response! Out of sheer desperation I sent him another text which read like this “????” Promptly came the response “ In a meeting. Can’t talk”. I messaged back “!!!” Received yet another response “ What ?”. Response from my end “ooooh”
This time I actually received a call “Whats up?” he asked in a whisper. Now wasn’t he in a meeting and couldn’t take calls? “ I came out to talk ” he said urgently. Yes, but wasn’t that an important meeting where he could not take calls? “But tell me what is it?” he asked impatiently. So I did– “Nothing” Seriously, was there any need to resort to expletives ? I mean my question had been answered- he had reached his destination! And they say we women are unpredictable and difficult to understand!!!
While there are men who find simple messages difficult to comprehend there are men who do not even understand something they see in front of their eyes. Take this example- a friend of mine was travelling to a project site in a village with a male colleague. She asked the driver to stop near a medical shop to buy a critical ”female requirement”. As she returned to the vehicle with her purchase wrapped up in a newspaper her colleague commented in astonishment “My God! So many medicines!”. To say that she was irritated would be an understatement. She decided to clear his misconception in the best way possible – by unwrapping the parcel and showing him what it contained! I think this martian will probably never again make any comments about medical purchases !
Then, there is a Martian in my office who is in charge of procurement and administration to whom I had been repeatedly making requests about installing a dustbin inside the ladies toilet. He raised a lot of objections initially about why we women needed something “even inside the toilet” when there were dustbins in everybody’s cabins . Finally he relented and got us one – without a lid ! His explanation – “we have placed orders with a wholesaler for all dustbins in the office and this is part of that consignment. You have got your dustbin now what is the problem” So, we decided he needed to know exactly what the problem was- I gave him a detailed explanation about the need for a dustbin with a lid inside the ladies toilet. A lesson he has obviously not forgotten- his embarrassment a definite indication!
The discomfort that Martians feel while in a social situation makes one wonder if it is a torture method used in their planet. They grumble, fidget and in general convey their complete unease. Their logic – conversations without a purpose is a waste of time! Take the example of a seventy two year old Martian- my father. One can never be sure when he would disconnect a call while we are talking to him. He does that every time the telephone conversation moves out of the question- answer/ information sharing mode!
The spouse has similar problems albeit the symptoms are different. He prefers funerals to weddings simply because at funerals people are there for a purpose – to express their condolence and leave. They don’t “hang around talking aimlessly” he complains. His biggest nightmare- being caught in a situation with me where we run into some acquaintances and I start a conversation with them! The unease I guess comes from his being unprepared to deal with the generic nature of the talk and the expectation from him having to contribute to it. So most often he stands there like a brooding presence and sometimes in his more tolerant moments like an obedient sheep while I end up doing most of the talking - all the time conveying very wrong impressions about himself.
I don’t know what conditions exist on that planet that makes them so different!!! I sometimes wonder whether a “How to” book written on the Martians for benefit of the residents of Venus might help… ! I am seriously considering authoring one – any inputs from fellow Venetians are most welcome!