Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shadow Lines

Something has been annoying me for a couple of days - not exactly privacy, not even confidentiality. More the sanctity of a personal conversation.

An American friend once told me that Indians are incredibly networked. Wherever we are in the world, we manage to bump into someone we know through someone else. And while that's a thought that's nice and warm and eggnoggy, it also means that news travels. Faster and further than you could imagine. And this becomes more and more apparent as the 'degrees of separation' diminish and friendships begin to intersect in different permutations and combinations.

Which brings me to my point - to what extent do conversations really occur between two people? How do you stop friend X, who you confide in, but who herself confides in friend Y (who you fell out with in 12th grade), who is dating friend Z (who's a buddy but not that close) from spilling the beans on your love-life/career/taste for bad music?

The other night, during a conversation with a friend, I was arrested by a vision of phantom eavesdroppers. And so I censored my sentences. All of which came to naught when I was markedly less discreet in another tete-a-tete which was duly disseminated to others.

How exactly do you begin to grapple with the competing needs to confess and conceal? How do you decide what to say to whom? How do you establish boundaries? And, all attempts having failed, how do you begin to co-exist with the unwanted but persistent shadow people who listen in?

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