©2012 Nim Gholkar All Rights Reserved
Miscommunication has often been the reason why wars, in the gilded hall of history, were won or lost…sometimes why wars began in the first place.
Closer home, i can think of one classic case of a complete hotchpotch of communication with hilarious, comical results. Till this day, i think about it and shake my head laughing about how a quintessentially simple conversation could possibly be so perfectly transformed into a complete comedy of errors.
Each Sunday morning i play Badminton with a group of friends. One of these friends, let’s call him T, usually goes shopping about once a month for indian snacks and savouries to the home cum shop of Lalit Bhai, an industrious chef who makes the most scrumptious indian delicacies. I absolutely adore the Kachoris (indian savoury snack) he prepares as they make a divine combination with hot ginger tea. Lalit Bhai being located at quite a distance from where i live, i usually am reluctant to make the trek, delectable though the kachoris are. T, being a true buddy, always makes it a point to call me or Ash (my other half) to say that he is on his way there and would we like to order something. Almost always we say yes please, we would love some more of those mouth-watering kachoris.
One Sunday after Badminton, i waved a cheerful bye to all my friends, T included, and drove off to the supermarket to do my weekly shopping. At this point it must be said that i play badminton quite early on a Sunday morning when the rest of my family is fast asleep (not because I don’t love my sunday morning snooze, but mainly because no other time seemed to suit the team). Choosing a trolley that did not wobble (now finding such a trolley is quite often a huge challenge), i began my systematic wander through the aisles choosing a favourite shampoo here, an ‘on-special’ box of cookies there and so on. I was barely ten minutes in the supermarket when my mobile rang. Looking at the caller ID, i saw that it was my friend T calling. That was strange. I had only just met him at badminton. What on earth could he be calling about? Had i forgotten the box of shuttles on the court? No, i hadn’t. So what could it be?
‘Hello, T? What’s up?’ I asked , momentarily distracted by the sight of my favourite bread being ‘sold out’, that too so early on a Sunday morning. This sure was the morning for strange things.
‘Hey have you reached home yet?’ asked T.
‘No, i have stopped at the supermarket. Should be home in an hour. Why?’
‘Well, I am going to Lalit Bhai’s this morning’, said T, ‘ and I was going to call Ash and ask him if he would like to come along, or if there is anything you would like to order from there’
Now, my dear readers, please note, this is the crucial point in the conversation. Up until this point, both T and I are on the same track. After this point, we both went in opposite directions of the conversation, completely off-track and blissfully unaware that the other was no longer on the same page.
I thought for a few moments, wondering if Ash would be awake at this point in time. Highly unlikely. So with the smug confidence of a wife of over sixteen years i said in a prim voice, ‘ Are you going now? He will most probably be asleep’. I was of course talking about Ash, but T, probably exhausted after the strenuous game of badminton, thought confusedly that i was talking about Lalit Bhai. There was a tiny pause as he tried to assimilate this piece of information, thinking all the while how come i would know for certain that Lalit Bhai was still asleep.
But T bravely soldiered on. ‘Oh thats ok, I will call him after a while then’. (him being Lalit Bhai)
Me : ‘I know him well, T. He won’t wake up for another half an hour at least’ (still the prim voice. I was after all talking about my own husband whom i know rather well, or at least that’s what i like to believe).
Now T was completely taken aback. How come she knows Lalit Bhai so well as to know that it would be exactly half an hour before he wakes up, he thought, most probably shaking his head in disbelief.
I was blissfully unaware of the turn this conversation had taken and was happily tossing things into the trolley while talking to T. There was an even longer pause this time, while T mulled on this new piece of knowledge.
‘Oooo K’ he said hesitantly, ‘So when do you think i should call him?’
What came next was the cherry on the cake !!! Thinking about the night before when we had dined out at a restaurant and returned home in the wee hours of the night, i said airily, ‘Oh, give him an hour or two. He had a late night last night’.
The silence after this was absolutely deafening. Looking back now, i can just visualise the look of absolute horror on T’s face as he wondered about this unimaginable turn of events. HOW ON EARTH DID NIM KNOW THAT LALIT BHAI HAD HAD A LATE NIGHT???????
I strained to hear what T had to say but there was….silence…at the other end. Gradually, almost in slow motion, my mind began to clear a bit and i blinked a couple of times to clear my head. Something was not right. I could not put a finger on it, but some thing was definitely not right.
‘Hold on’ i said suddenly, stopping so abruptly that a couple of shoppers behind me nearly collided with me and my half-full trolley. ‘Who have you been talking about all this while?’ i asked suspiciously.
T could only croak, so deep was his sense of confusion. ‘Lalit Bhai. Who were you talking about?’
I slapped my forehead as realisation dawned. ‘OMG, i have been talking about Ash of course.’
There was a moment’s pause and then we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. I had tears pouring down my face, and waved helplessly at other shoppers and shook my head at the same time as if to say ‘Don’t mind me. I’m crazy’
‘Thank goodness you clarified that’ T said, sounding relieved. ‘I was beginning to get a bit worried how come you know so very much about Lalit Bhai’s daily habits and lifestyle’.
That conversation has been so deeply engraved on my memory that i mention it, amidst giggles and hiccups, at every discussion on ‘the perils of miscommunication’. Just as well i did clarify in the end that i had been talking about my own husband all the while. Can you imagine the deep confusion and horror if the air had not been cleared???