Thursday, June 5, 2008

'Touchy feely':: article by chetan bhagat

'Touchy feely':: article by chetan bhagat

I remember the incident - I was in a restaurant and one girl in our group
was especially charming. So I, like any other male, tried to put on a
wooing act. You know the routine, a nanosecond extra eye contact, a few
more nods to whatever she says, and attempts to throw in those one-liners
which you know you wouldn't if she weren't there. And it seemed to be
working. She leaned forward when she spoke to me, and every now and again,
we'd have a small conversation of our own, separate from our group. She
laughed at my approach with the fork and knife, and I teased her about her
hair band, which had little teddy bears. Yes, we were flirting. A while
later, she asked me the question what did I study? I said engineering,
without any particular meaning attached to it. And then like a cold metal
rail, she went stiff.

My jokes weren't funny any more. Her eyes wandered to everyone else.

What was it?

Why? Why? Why?

Two days later, I still couldn't get over my great start that had
dissipated listlessly upon mentioning my education. Engineer? What was
wrong with that? My mom had wanted me to become one since I was five! I had
to call her. 'So what happened to you that day, hot and cold, missie?' And
then she said, trying to be nice, 'Well, it's just that I am skeptical
about engineers as friends. I don't know, they can be, you know, very
logical and everything...not very touchy feely'.

Not touchy-feely. Now what the heck did that mean? Well, she obviously did
not mean it literally, since girls don't really suggest that sort of stuff,
certainly not in the first meeting across the table. I guessed it was
something to do with feelings, sort of having an emotional side. The
stereotype being, the nerdy guy who sees relationships like laws of
physics, to whom love is just a bunch of chemicals going crazy in your
brain, and getting to know a person means obtaining their bio-data.

It's time to set the record straight.

It's true that a lot of what engineers study (and they end up studying
quite a lot), has to do with formulaes, laws and numbers. No matter how
hard we try, some of the vocabulary we read all day gets into our language.
So when my mother said, 'Are you getting married next year or not?' I was
liable to say, 'Well, at this moment in time, the probability is relatively
low,' and felt it was completely normal to say it. And when my sister went
sari shopping and couldn't explain the shade she wanted, I told the
shopkeeper the percentages of pink, orange and red in the sari.

Yet, ladies, I don't think we're bad at relationships, love and getting to
know people. We too, can be touchy-feely, as that is part of our education
as well. The reason for this is that most engineering students live in the
this 'touchy-feely' thing. Relationships. Imagine eating, sleeping,
brushing your teeth, bathing (ok rarely this one) and partying with the
same people all the time. So, when you are kicking that bathroom door down
for the tenth time, or when you stand in line for 'gulab-jamuns' in the
mess, and when you are done with the vodka bottle and sharing all your
secrets, you know it is good practice. Yes, hostels maketh the man.

So, next time you are in a flirtatious situation with the techno types, go
on, flirt a bit more. Of course, I am biased towards my kind, but if you
find the conversation turning too geeky, just ask them, 'So, what were your
hostel days like?' and chances are, you'll see a heart behind the
calculator. Coming back to my missie, I thought of what would make me win
her over. Flowers... too cheesy. Music... don't know her taste (nor trust
mine). Teddy bears... don't even go there.

Desperate for some good lines, I just turned it right back at her. 'Yes, I
know what you are saying about engineers. The thing is, unless people with
depth like you start hanging out with us, we won't get any better. Can you
meet me some time for some touchy/feely... oops, I mean coffee/tea?'

She giggled. When they giggle, you have won.

- Chetan Bhagat