The last time Adi was in town, I asked him,
“So what do you want to do?”
He sounded surprised, then he said,
“Yes, but what do you want to do?”
“Talk. Hang out. Chat. That’s all.”
Later we talked about this. He said that people in this city don’t seem to value conversations. It’s true. Mumbaikers are constantly chasing value for every aspect of their existence and what’s more precious than time? It beats even space. And we don’t appear to consider it a minute well-spent unless it is used to do something tangible.
People are always making plans to meet. Even leisure time is agenda-driven. Weekends are full of errands, bank work, shopping, mall-hopping, movies, dinner, lunch, brunch and the phlethora of meal-slash-events to attend to. It made me realize that I have very few actual conversations even in my chat-friendly, connection-happy life. Adi is one of the few people with whom I connect, not for work, not for a specific task, not for accompaniment on an activity, but just to talk. It’s true that we’re both writers and have reasonably flexible schedules. But we are both professionals in busy lives too.
This was a wonderful weekend in that regard. First, I spent Friday in the kind of work that gives me great pleasure – thinking collaboratively. I worked with people to understand their brands and consumer audiences. It was an intense 7-hour conversation that was absorbing, stimulating and fun.
Then Saturday arrived with a former colleague with lots of fun ideas camouflaged behind a lazy drawl. I accompanied her on a few errands. Then we sat down in a nondescript, tiny restaurant/shop and just talked. We talked about relationships, about growing up, about womanhood, about families and about how the world had changed so much from what we thought it would be like. We shared our respective anecdotes and angsty tales. We swapped funny, horrible stories about daily dramas. And we transitioned from ex-colleagues to friends.
Later, I met another old friend I hadn’t spoken to in a few months. Easy cushions, open windows and a coconut-flavored beverage make for the kind of comfortable setting that make complex conversations possible. We talked about love, about hurt, about guilt and of the ways we weave into, collide against and impact one another. We danced another tango in the sweet, almost-too-tender-to-bear relationship that this is.
Today another friend came calling, asking if I’d join her for breakfast. It was almost noon by the time we met and we ended up partaking of brunch. Brunch, I haven’t done that in a long time. So technically we were the ladies-that-brunch on a Sunday.
We lounged about, talking about work, about the Landmark programs that we’ve both been doing, about common friends. Then we refilled our plates and digested painful pasts with our ravioli. Afternoon arrived and we moved to a coffeeshop, where I brought out my pain, my past and the heaviness I didn’t even realize I carried, for an airing. She sat by and she listened. Then she gently offered answers, support, empathy. I listened, I ‘but-what-about’ed, I frowned, I smiled. She likened the state of being to a pig wallowing in its muck. I agreed. Then we got a coffee each and drained them dry.
It was getting to be a cool evening after a humid day. So we walked around, intending to go into the park nearby but the crowd drove us away. So instead, we tramped down the narrow lanes, over broken sidewalks and between double-parked cars. And we talked about belief systems, about books and about personal angst. It was 8pm when we finally said bye.
I feel so much richer than I did on Thursday night. All I did this weekend was have conversations. Great conversations. Mind-bending conversations. Heartfelt conversations. Confusing conversations. Conversations that kept me up one night. Conversations that gave me the impetus to wake up tomorrow and look forward to the next week.
All the fun, important, engaging, must-do things in this city (or anywhere else) are no more than props, vehicles for people to connect and have conversations. But we’d rather get lost in those activities, wasting our energy, our money, our time and our health chasing to-do lists, than stopping to talk about what’s important.
How come we never remember that conversations are the currency of relationships? We need to spend and earn to keep the feeling economy moving, to keep the life business running. Talk, talk a little more. Do a little less.