Sunday, May 27, 2007

Impressions

People often have stories that explain who they have become and more importantly how. In the past, I relied on first impressions a lot - often to make significant decisions. Over the years, I have learnt to revisit that first impression after a while and see if I think different.

Sushma, Jyoti and Rachna arrived well past midnight to pick me and J up for a trip to the beach for the Memorial Day weekend. I have known Rachna a few years now and was meeting the two others for the first time. Sushma is slightly over-weight and looks like the kind of person who cannot be bothered with watching her diet or exercising regularly. If I were to see at her the local Indian grocery store, I would have thought she is one of those long suffering H4 wives who this country almost denies a right to exist.

Jyoti seemed regular in every way. I guessed she must be in her early twenties, new graduate on her first job. She looked like a nice, quiet and unassuming girl. I would imagine she worked diligently at her job and kept to herself in crowd.

It was a four hour drive to our destination. Rachna and J fell asleep in bit so I kept Jyoti and Sushma company. In a couple of hours, a layer was peeled off their personalities. Sushma had got her divorce two days ago and this trip was almost like a celebration of freedom for her. I offered her my heartfelt congratulations.

Jyoti was an uber-geek who worked as a
network security consultant. Her day typically started around noon and ended past midnight. Recently a relationship of ten years had ended and she was doing her best to recover. I was there at a point in both their lives when they needed to talk, to share and unburden. By the time we reached our destination, I knew more about them than I do about folks I have known for years.

In our room as we unpacked, I was surprised at how different both Jyoti and Sushma appeared to me. How knowing something about their context made them so much more than two dimensional stereotypes that first impressions tend to be. I noticed the quiet determination about Sushma that I had completely missed before and the natural joie de vivre about Jyoti that even a serious setback could not take away. I knew both of them would bounce back and be even stronger for their life lessons.

2 comments:

gg said...

Have you read Blink? :-)
Some of my college classmates baffle me with their provincial thinking and general inquisitiveness - the stereotypical auntyji types.
-g

gg said...

I meant, you wouldn't think they were that way from their demeanor.
gg