The Art of .. Shhhh. Hang on, I Just Heard Something!
Here's the deal. Eavesdropping, if anything, in my humble opinion, is an Art. Before you judge me (Judging people is also an art. Another post.), have you ever noticed this section of the population, intently focused on your conversations, staring at you, especially in Public transport, dying to catch on to every word you utter, and making it blatantly obvious that they are, well, interested? They are precisely the reason why eavesdropping qualifies into the Art category. It's these immature people who make Pros like me cringe in my comfortable corner. Hence this post, where, you "Watch and Learn", the ART of eavesdropping.
Lesson #1 - Act Uninterested
Do not make it obvious that you are interested. Take a deep breath, let go of yourself, relax, and sit in a comfortable position. If available, a prop would be good (Explained in Lesson #2). Now, very casually, try to grasp the basics of the conversation. It will take a few minutes, but it will happen. Getting the drift of the conversation is ultra-crucial, for extrapolation later on.
Lesson #2 - Multitask
This is a professional trick. Don't tell anyone else. Take a book in your hand, open it to a page not towards the end or the beginning or the exact, measured middle. Somewhere inconsequential, to look natural. Plug in your earphones, but only into one ear. (Or even better, plug it into both, but don't turn on the music. Killer trick this is!) Act like you are immersed in the book. And then, casually, throw an ear to the other side!
Don'ts: Do not hold the book upside down. And keep an eye on the earphone. You'll look like a fool if it is not plugged into anything at all.
Lesson #3 - Strategic Positioning
This is a crucial step, where many novices lose out. Do not, for the sake of "Are you there God? It's me", sit at the edge of your seat to listen. Please. It makes the entire community of eavesdroppers look silly and illiterate. No, seriously. I mean it. x-(
Lesson #4 - Remain Unattached
If the conversation was meant to involve you, you would not be eavesdropping, you would be a part of it. So, remain unattached. Even if the topic is of a life's worth of interest to you, do not let your face betray any emotions. Stone Faced. Practice in front of a mirror if required! :-|
Lesson #5 - Language Unbound
If the conversation is in a language you don't know, do not panic. Take a deep breath and change your focus to other more interesting subjects. But, IF the conversation is in your mother tongue (not Hindi/English), do not look over-excited. Casually, try to catch the key words and laugh about it later.
A little bit of a Practical Example:
So, there was this one occasion, when Yours Truly was traveling by the Delhi Metro with a friend, and well "happened" to catch on to somebody's dialogue. A Grandmother, traveling in the Metro for the first time, and that too, with two naughty grandkids, was discussing in an extremely high, un-ignorable pitch, about getting off at the Janakpuri West station. I had of course made a mental note of that. When the said station arrived, she was comfortably taking a nap. Considerate that I am, I broke off a conversation I was having with my dear friend, and remarked, "Poor Lady, she's going to miss her station." My friend, already angry about me cutting off her sentence, looked at me all aghast. Barrage of questions followed, in a gradual crescendo. "How do you know?" "Go tell her, na?" "Are you crazy?” By the time I got up to tell the dear lady, the station had passed. I know. I am mean. I felt really guilty, about not putting my eavesdropping art to good use, and so, at the next station, we helped the lady find her way around to the returning station! That's how the Pros do it. :)
That's that then. I am done with my lessons. Remember always, travel would be boring if not for eavesdropping. Give this art it's long deserved due. Go, kiss the world, my students. Make me proud. Oh and for your information, I have been subjected to a lot of eavesdropping myself. Personally, I would feel more comfortable, if it was done in a more subtle manner. Hence the need for these lessons.
Gotta go, just heard some interesting gossip on the other desk,
PS: On an unrelated note, I had written half of the post for BlogAdda's Travel Contest, but unforeseen developments in the form of an irritating incident in office spoilt my mood to the drudges. It lies in the Draft section.
PPS: Also, I saw the Monk finale yesterday. I can't believe the finale was loved so much. Maybe, it's just me, but I thought it could have been better.