Learning through experience and error

Small Talk, Conversations and Beautiful People [Part 1]

Small Talk, Conversations and Beautiful People [Part 1]
“That’s all small talk is – a quick way to connect on a human level – which is why it is by no means as irrelevant as the people who are bad at it insist. In short, it’s worth making the effort.” -Lynn Coady
I have always had trouble with small talk. So, when I came to Noida last year, I tried to push myself and started initiating conversations with everyone. The motto was that everyone was worth talking to and everyone was inherently good. So, putting my motto in practice I asked random questions to cab drivers, rickshaw-drivers, helpers and aides and after a few bumps in the road, I hit it off. Now, I can talk to most people with ease. This post isn’t about me learning small talk though. Rather about how most of the best conversations I’ve had in the last year have been with helpers and cabbies. These conversations were only possible once I drove past the small talk barrier.

Popular Small Talk Quote

You might have seen or read quotes like the one in the above image which is by far the most popular one. I disagree with this. I know it sounds so beautiful and amazing and eye-opening but to be fair, it is only once you’re familiar with someone that they will trust you with subjects that have depth. So, “small talk is necessary to have better conversations” is one of many lessons I’ve learnt recently.

Morning Conversations with Harish

Harish comes to clean my room daily with his cousin. Both of them handle the cleanliness of three buildings owned by my landlord. A man in his 30s, Harish dresses up better than most of us urban folk. He wears crisply ironed formal clothes and tries his best to communicate in English. Harish flunked high school. Something he deeply regrets and tries to amend every day since he came to his senses which as per him was somewhere around his mid-twenties. Every day, he asks me a question about grammar and English. I don’t always have an answer and sometimes I look things up. In that way, we learn together. As he sweeps and mops my room, we talk about life, the country, people, the city, everything.

“My father was a government official”, he started talking a few months ago, “bhaiya wo to ham bekar nikle, hamare father ne to hame bachpan se sahi banane ki koshish kari thi” [1], he continued. Slowly, day after day, he told me all about his family and gradually, I started looking forward to our conversations to the point that when I thought about writing this post, I asked him his name. Yes, we’ve been talking almost every day since so long and it is only today that I asked him his name.

Harish is a man of principles. He has clear beliefs and rules and he follows them diligently. He tells me about the prejudice he receives in his own locality for acting all high and mighty. “Inhe kaun bataega bhaiya ki hamne to posh Delhi mein bachpan spend kia hai apna” [2], he said when he told me about his neighbors and how they point him out for preferring cleanliness. He is by far, one of the best people I’ve met in this life. He has that about him, he leaves a lasting impact.

Just the other day, he asked me very politely if he could bring his book for a few queries after my examinations are over. I gladly said yes. I agreed mainly because I have struggled with studying grammar myself even though I’ve already bought a book. That might be because of my current state of tsundoku which I described in the last post. I am looking forward to those potential learning sessions and any interactions I have with him in the near future.

What’s the point?

You might be wondering something along the lines of “Anything specific to take away from this?” Yes, actually there is. With this post, I am trying to stress on a rule I started following but got lost somewhere along the way only to come back to the realization that it works. The rule is simple,

“Everyone is inherently good and worth talking to.”

or the Hindi iteration, which my friends from Dehradun seem to prefer more,

“Sab accha hai. Sab acche hain.”

That said, we’re at the end of an average netizen’s reading capacity. So, this will have another part where I’ll talk about how I’ve had great conversations in shared cabs; with my co-passengers and the cab drivers themselves in the past year. Until then, I hope you enjoyed reading part one. Stay tuned for part two.

[1] It was us who wasted away life like delinquents, otherwise our father had always tried to make decent men out of us.

[2] They will never know that I’ve spent my childhood in the posh colonies of New Delhi.

About the author

Deepansh Khurana

I write code by day and prose by night. I'd say I love coffee but don't we all? I find stories, people and experiences. I blog about them.

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About The Content

There are three kinds of blog posts here as of mid-2019 – The Journal, The Words and The Nudge.

The Journals are thoughts, lessons, events that unfold in my life word-for-word and as barebones as I can put them out there.

The Words are creative pieces, narratives, short-stories that take from my life but did not happen word-for-word.

The Nudge has self-help articles that try to be less proud and self-righteous. They end in the nudge, which is a shareable takeaway that summarises the entire idea.

You can read more about this change here and here.

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Deepansh Khurana

I write code by day and prose by night. I'd say I love coffee but don't we all? I find stories, people and experiences. I blog about them.

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