“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”Oscar Wilde
I, like Mr. Wilde, believe that conversation by itself should go far beyond the talk of weather, in the sense that we use the weather as an ice-breaker maybe. Fortunately for me, I have come across so few of these types of people who resort to the talk of weather (more like an excuse for real conversation). This maybe partly because I am introverted and avoid speaking too much to someone unless specifically asked something or if we have common interests.
More recently, I had the pleasure of spending some time with one of my favorite aunts (who resides overseas, so such chances are few really). Considering that I am a child to her and that she has watched me grow up, this point in my adult life has seemed the most appropriate for us have deep, thought-stimulating, and intellectual conversation.
I have at some point always known that I associate with this aunt of mine the best (hence, my favorite!), among all the other close family members. Coming back to our recent catch-up, there were several things that I learned and took away endearingly from the conversation (yes, one conversation, that ran for several hours, with a few mundane breaks along the way).
As this is a story told, let me introduce you to my aunt first. She is a biologist who taught biology (genetics more accurately) for several years abroad and is also an enthusiastic researcher. That apart, she is one of the most avid readers I have ever come across (enough said, I suppose) which gives her that unique outlook on life and all other things we deal with every day.
I hold avid readers in the highest regard, simply because there is a multitude of perspectives you gain with every book you have ever read. Also, it familiarizes you with current concepts and gives you an edge in most topics that form good conversation. Readers are simply underrated in the kind of information they gather and hold (but, this is another issue for another day!).
And thus, began our conversation, starting with the books we are currently reading, to what Kindle subscriptions we have, what kind of books we borrow in Kindle and so on. The conversation took a pleasant turn into ground realities. Talking of recent pain in my life, we started to discuss how the world works. More, accurately, how the world is programmed to work. A very interesting perspective from my aunt were about leaders and followers. Leaders, she says are those that can automatically question any limit put across and possibly find ways to beat it or better it. Followers on the other hand are those that do not engage on that level, but rather are content with accepting what is given to them. This thread of conversation then led to a discussion of how we are programmed genetically. Leaders and followers are the way they are mainly due to their genetic make-up. Certain gene combinations may tend to categorize our place in the world. Now, I have never really thought this way before and the information given to me was simply mind-blowing. But having said that, for the sake of argument, there is another popular train of thought which states that ‘leaders are not born, they are groomed’ rather. Though I did want to discuss further on it, we found ourselves drifting to another interesting conversation.
To tread lightly here, we discussed the existence of a higher power. Her opinion once more surprised me, in that we almost think alike (her opinion is better thought out than mine is). The very semblance of religion we have, and the existence of a higher power may be a psychological exercise for minds who need the idea of someone guiding them (like followers) and for those who question those very boundaries it may be merely an exhaustive tool that makes little sense (like leaders). Though my opinion was loosely along the same lines of questioning the very existence (I mean no offense, and this is just my opinion/view), speaking to my aunt really gave me a deeper understanding of how the universe works really and what we all are in this seemingly infinite realm. I, for one, use religion or rather the rituals of religion as a semblance of familiarity. In the sense that I was brought up is a slightly orthodox household where rituals formed a very important part of our routine. Through my more challenging times, revisiting those rituals (imbibing them into my routine) because they remind me of my childhood (a simpler, carefree time), restores my sanity to some extent. Going back to what is most familiar to you, can do that for you. However, this does not stop me from keeping up with the times or adding logic and science to the ideologies I have been taught. My aunt says, the minute the word belief is used, it would mean that there is no room for other points of view. Now, this I am inclined to agree. What do you think?
I have known my aunt all my life, but the like-mindedness in how we think was a real eye-opener in this visit. Considering that there is a large generation gap between us, our wavelengths were perfectly in sync. These bits of conversation made me aspire to be an exceptional conversationalist like she is, one day (maybe someday, if I ever can reach that standard).
On a more mundane aspect, I got the best recipes for a very simple, yet tasty rasam (the best I have ever had, besides my mom’s Mysore rasam!) and an egg curry my husband simply loved (a harsh critic as far as my cooking is concerned). Well, aunts I guess! Making you a better person, is what they do best. I wish to one day be a similar aunt to my nephew as my favorite aunt is to me now!
Jayanthi Perima, this one’s for you, and to the deep impact you have always had on my personality, both now and over the years.
“Conversation should touch everything but should concentrate itself on nothing.“Oscar Wilde