Saturday, 6 August 2011

Charity and other forms of divine insurance

As a general open rule, I suppose, it is right to be charitable to those who choose to beg. Typically, it's how the public sees it. No matter how sneaky, or poor, or annoying or sorry they seem, the way you behave with them kind of determines your supposed nature towards humankind. No one ever talks about the guy who handed ten bucks to a roadside con, they all talk about the guy who shoo-ed him away. As was my plight on an eventful Saturday morning trying to find a copy of a Wodehouse omnibus on MG Road.

I had no more than fifty bucks in my wallet. It was one of those days when I was comfort shopping i.e. swiping my card so that I would feel less guilty about destroying my bank balance. I walked down to Mamma Mia on Church Street, bought myself an ice-cream and strolled out. Then, out of nowhere, a gypsy pounced on me (quite literally) and took away the ice-cream. Now, it's not like I wouldn't have given it if she just, you know, asked me for it. But I was surprised to see that everyone around me were looking at me. For a moment, I thought this was because they were as stunned as I was. But no, turns out everyone was hoping that I don't tell her off.

Anyway, as if that didn't annoy me enough, I had to walk an extraordinarily long way to the ATM with absolutely no money in my wallet. As expected, I was destined for worse. There was an old man sitting by corner of the road. All the people before me seemed to drop a coin or two as they walked past, so dutifully I took out my wallet hoping to find out a coin when I got near him. Just that, I stood in front of him for an entire minute searching inside my wallet stuffed with bills and couldn't find anything. I don't know what you'd possibly do, but it was that awkward moment where I had to tell him that I hadn't any money on me.

You see, here's the odd thing about a situation like this. I felt guilty for no fault of mine. I I mean, of course I’m aware of the misfortunes that befall humankind, and have since given thought to doing much towards the greater common good – but this whole universal test isn’t fair.

‘I don’t have any money,’ I told him, apologetically, ‘I thought I had change. I don’t’. It was the truth, and I hoped he would believe me.

I think it was ten seconds of expressionless staring before he stood up, dusted his rags, collected the change in his bowl, walked to the nearby stall and bought himself a cigarette.

I tell you, the next time someone gives me a sermon about the potential karmic returns of charity, I'm going to tell them to sell their soul for a bar of chocolate. Really, it's a shorter ticket to heaven.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Damsel in Denial - The wrong men are right for most women

Well, I confess my heart has been considerably heavy for the past month. First, I’ve listened to an overload of friends crying over guys-who-have-absolutely-no-shame. Second, I’ve been waking up to wedding invites. The thing about both problems is that it involves forcing a certain amount of spirit and cheer, of which I obviously hadn’t any. In fact, even my sisterly-sermon skills have taken a hit. And I don't mean that in a good way, mind you.

Take this incident last week, for instance. I was right there, sitting at home, minding my own business and all that when an old friend calls for some comfort. It didn't quite occur to me that the the word comfort here actually meant that I would have to employ the 'Listening ear' (popularly known as the 'nod to everything and shut the hell up') tactic instead of 'Sound advice' (otherwise known as 'what you are saying doesn't make sense'). After listening to a fast-paced plot of how the guy in question had destroyed their relationship, had absolutely no sense of respect for her, and was surely dating someone else behind her back, I said, 'Well, this guy is not worth your time.'

My suggestion, it seems, fell on deaf ears. 'The thing is,' she tried to rationalise, 'we've been together to so many years, and it's just unfair. I don't know why I put up with this. I really need to get over this. I bet he's just out there having fun.'

I tried rephrasing the second time. 'This guy isn't worth your time. You know that'. But, I don't think she heard me quite yet.

'I was just thinking about the last time we talked and how he sounded like he wanted to work things out. And now, he just brushed the whole thing off like it doesn't even matter to him. I'm like so so sick of this,' she went on,'I'm never going to talk to him again'.

This time, I switched to 'Listening Ear'. Because I was going to lose my mind if this went on for the next ten minutes. 'You know what, just give him time and he'll come around'.

I might as well have prophesied a miracle. She agreed immediately and hung up. Lesson learned today - never try to give 'Sound advice' when a woman is whining. Especially when she's convinced she's right about the wrong guy.