January 20, 2006

Second star to the right … and straight on till morning

It is a balmy Singapore afternoon. One is walking around town, occasionally consulting a tattered old streetmap, occasionally slipping into a café or a bookstore, but mostly just wandering. At one point, as one peers at the map to decide whether it would be better to walk straight along Orchard Road or to go south for a riverside stroll, an elderly couple approach and ask where one wishes to go. One cannot refuse their help, for that would seem ungrateful. So one tells them that one wishes to be at the riverside, and listens patiently as they kindly proceed to give detailed directions.

Let us, at this point, cut to a busy Amsterdam street just over six months ago (we shall not use fancy dissolves or fade-out/fade-in effects. That’s just so Bollywood.) One is walking around town, occasionally consulting a tattered old streetmap, occasionally slipping into a café or a bookstore, but mostly just wandering. At one point, as one peers at the map to decide whether it would be better to walk straight along to the museums or to proceed to places-that-cannot-be-mentioned-on-PG-rated-blog (purely, one hastens to clarify, for .. er .. sightseeing), a rather intimidating biker-type dude approaches and asks where one wishes to go. One cannot refuse his help, for that would seem ungrateful. So one tells him that one wishes to be at the van Gogh museum*, and listens patiently as he kindly proceeds to give detailed directions.

And there lies the problem. You see, one does not need directions – for the whole point of having a map is that it allows one to find one’s own way around. One cannot understand why folks assume that the merest glance at it implies that one is lost. It’s come to the point where one has to hide in phone booths and behind bus-stop shelters and sometimes in McDonald’s restrooms to unfold the map and steal a quick look at it without being interrupted.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. One wishes to make a personal appeal on this blog. If you, gentle reader, ever see a geeky sort of chap (mid-twenties, dark hair, dark eyes, underweight) walking around your hometown, occasionally consulting a dog-eared streetmap and perpetually wearing a faintly bewildered expression, please do not offer to help him. He is doing just fine by himself. Merci much.

*In retrospect, one thinks it would’ve been possible to hitch a ride if one had wanted to go to the places-that-cannot-be-mentioned-on-PG-rated-blog.


Aditi said...

people just don't seem to understand the fun in getting lost and discovering interesting things in the process...

the Monk said...

yeah, there's nothing like exploring leisurely on your own....but tell me, that would seem ungrateful...you've never met 'em before...what can possibly be there for you to be grateful?

LAK said...

Why dost thou navigate by starlight, O wise One?(Yaani ke, I liked the title)One explanation for strange behaviour of strangers in guiding you---they have read their Mars and Venus and know you will never ask for directions!

rainbeau_peep said...

One has clearly never experienced the bafflement and general disorientation produced by 4 years of consistently flunking geography exams.

One in a Billion said...

Aditi : Yes, indeed. Of course, in the episodes described above one was not lost. Not lost at all.

Monk : Well .. the very fact that they offered to help is kinda decent and all, one feels .. so it’s a bit weird saying “No, thanks”, no? Or maybe it requires tact – not something one is blessed with.

LAK : Yes, but the point is that one does not get lost in the first place, so it’s not necessary for one to ask for directions. Of course, saying this repeatedly and italically probably reinforces the Mars-Venus stereotype. One just cannot win.

And yay! You noticed the title! It’s from Peter Pan and was the line that ended Star Trek:The Next Generation (those are two of this blogger’s all-time favourite things. One never quite grew up, you see.)

Rainbeau : Ah yes, geography. You, madam, are in the august presence of an individual who has spent most of his life believing that Belgium was the English name for Belgaum. One had to visit both to convince oneself that they were different places. But one still feels doubtful sometimes.

csk said...

The next time you decide to go to an unknown place there are two things that should accompany you:
1)A magnetic needle (along with the compass correction charts)
2)A rabid dog (to scare away unsolicited help)

shakester said...

know what you mean, but I am perfectly at ease with my obligatory self in sayng "no, thank you, i'm fine" and continuing to pore over said map, however unclear

One in a Billion said...

CSK : Hmm. Magnetic needles, yes. But rabid dogs might not be allowed on the plane, onethinks.

Welcome, BTW.

AKR : Yes, yes, one has made up one's mind to do precisely that next time. Let's see how it goes.

sinusoidally said...

But why couldn't you just say, "Thanks, but I think I figured it out." ?

Casablanca said...

Who are these people who offer help to unsuspecting, map-reading wanderers? Who dares? Who? Who?

*Putting my hand up*

Oopsie, will remember never to do that again, unless 'lost soul' is young and good looking and worth having a coffee with ;)

One in a Billion said...

Sines : Hmm. Yeah, nothing wrong with that. Tactful. Next time, those shall be one’s precise words.

Casablanca : *kicks self vigorously and repeatedly for posting no-help appeal* Er .. one likes coffee very much, you know .. especially Caramel Macchiato ;)

Ph said...

If you live where I live, you will be grateful if they even glance your way if you fall down and break a few bones.

Primalsoup said...

Heh! What about all the socialization which happens in such scenarios??? You are missing out on wonderful opportunities to make/do friendships! :)
But I would concur that the journey is where all the fun is… destinations are mostly over-rated.

Casablanca said...

Ah, then lets hope the macchiato is still hot when I'm back to Singapore ;)

One in a Billion said...

Ph : Gosh. You don't happen to live in Ahmedabad, do you?

Primalsoup : You do have a point there .. one has missed many opportunities. Okay, the appeal stands rescinded. Please help this poor soul if you see him!

Casablanca : Hmm ;). Yes, let us hope.

Harshi said...

:-))@ hiding and reading the maps...haha.
I will now think twice before offering help! :-) (But yes, I do go with the notion that if someone needs help, they will ask.)
But it's good to be asked though, isn't it. Shows that there are nice people around. :)

Camphor said...

That you connect the going to places not be mentioned in PG rated blogs (who rated it anyway?) to Peter Pan is indeed intriguing.

One in a Billion said...

Harshi : No, no .. the appeal has been rescinded in this very commentspace. Please feel free to help and all .. one shall tactfully refuse!

Camphor : Oh, one has barely begun yet. You could connect, for example, Roger Federer to Moaning Myrtle (Federer - Switzerland - cheese - mouse - cat - Mrs Norris - Basilisk - Myrtle) without batting an eyelid. 'Tis a fun game actually.

Harshi said...

That's a good idea :).

Camphor said...

*groan* Not more connects! That one was almost as bad as the one we got at Saarang - IITM - this year. It's fun as a game, but when it gets into quizzes...I'm bad at quizzing!

Connect for instance - The One and Narmada Valley Project.
One point connect, by the way.
Or don't bother. :)

One in a Billion said...

Harshi : Indeed :)

Camphor : Ah, easy. Gujjuland, of course. Or, if more connects are allowed,

Narmada Valley - Arundhati Roy - God of Small Things - twins - two - The One

Narmada Valley - dam - damnation - hellfire - Kane (of the WWE) - The Rock - Hollywood - The Matrix - The One

Quite pointless, of course.