Tuesday, August 16, 2011

From Public Humiliations to Personal Victories

(written for my column in the Media Voice magazine)

Recently, I popped open a bottle of champagne over completing ten driving lessons. If you don’t know me, it is very likely that you wonder what the big deal about that is. I had reached a turning point in conquering my fear of driving, and it called for a celebration! Actually, to be more specific, I was celebrating my managing not to knock off a poor cyclist with a large stack of eggs on the back stand. I was also celebrating the very backhanded compliment that my surly driving instructor gave me when I wondered if I’d ever be able to drive. He said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course you can… (powerful pause)… All sorts of morons do.”

Generally, I am not very good at making people feel good about themselves, but when someone gives me a ride in their car, by the time I get dropped, they usually feel like epic heroes. I am so keen on letting them know how much in awe of them I am, for the fact that they could drive, that they are usually beaming with self-love by the time I get down. Well, my little service to humanity.

But, seriously, I hope you do celebrate your small victories. You don’t need a bottle of champagne. To be truthful, I didn’t have one either. The booze situation in Chennai is cause for serious depression. That’s for a separate discussion.

Personal victory number two: I found a way to make me do things I procrastinate on. Public humiliation. Of course, for this to have its effect, you must be the kind that is shamed into action by public humiliation. I have started appointing people who would call me out on my dithering and laziness on my Facebook wall! And several other trusted Facebook friends add bitchy comments to it, adding to the humiliation. This propels me into finishing whatever it is that I am supposed to be finishing. Also, my friends who crack the whip are smart enough to make their postings when I am fast asleep, so before I see them and delete them, there is a litany of nasty comments by so-called friends.

Personal victory number three: For the first time in my life, I managed to take a powernap in the afternoon, and I could call it a powernap without adding any air-quotes around it. My “powernaps” usually last  anywhere between an hour and a half and two hours. This one lasted twenty minutes, and I sprang to action right after. How did I manage this? The aforementioned, self-arranged public humiliation on Facebook acted as a loud snooze in my pretty, sleeping self and pushed me right off the bed in twenty minutes. Also, the vivid image of my friend walking in circles around me and giving me whiplashes for stalling work was not entirely conducive for a pleasant siesta.

Of course, for any of this to work, you need to be the kind that is discomfited by humiliation, and not tickled by it! Also, you need friends who don’t mind being ruthless with you. Trust me, we all have friends who would pounce at an opportunity to play the cruel coach. This week it is my turn to crack the whip on a friend who needs some pushing to get some work done. Oh boy! The things he will get done before I am through with him!

Ah, but what are friends for ;)

Aniruddhan Vasudevan dances, acts, writes, travels, cooks, and does a host of other things that cannot be listed without inviting serious censorship trouble