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.
Signing out,
Gotta go, just heard some interesting gossip on the other desk,
Me!

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.

Comments

  1. First :) Now I am off to read the post!

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  2. Second :(

    DI, whatsup with being first everywhere ?

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  3. Ooh! I am so happy to find a co-eavesdropper! I do it all the time too. I think I mentioned it, knowing 5 languages makes it awesomer! I judiciously follow lesson 2 btw, earphones with no music? It is mucho useful!

    Hilarious post :D Hope the new guy got better!

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  4. @ Piyu, no clue! finally it's my day! :D

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  5. Oh, I am a pro at this, at-least I hope so. Even when I do not want to eaves-drop my ears, have a mind of their own :D

    Me and a couple of friends, when we go out, we are so into whats being discussed, around, it is such a great source of entertainment, and the best part is that it need not be done very actively. Words just fall into your ears, and your brain does the processing without any conscious effort :P

    So apart from what we are actually discussing, we have a great time listening in here and there, and judging that too :D

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  6. That is one serious hilarious post.. :D

    Thanks for the tips..now I need to find a public transportation to try it out :D

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  7. @DI: 5 languages? Wow! I keep gloating about the 3-4 I know! Glad to know about the so many fellow eavesdroppers! Coaching classes kaise rahenge? :P

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  8. @Arbitthoughts: Ha. Natural, huh? More like me then. We'll need to hang out together more, to figure out how to make this world a better place for Eavesdroppers! :)

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  9. @comfortablynam: Thanks! :)
    Please do try, and get back to me with concrete results! :)

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  10. @DI: The new guy is, well, he's the type who'll crawl all over the internet to check out our Linkedin profiles and act like he knows us well. So no more footage for him. That irritating. Hmmpphh. x(

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  11. Ha! Ha! A very entertaining post... yet agian. You have a way with words...

    Tell us more about the "irritating new joinee in office"

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  12. @Roshmi: Danke Ma'am! :)
    Lips sealed about New joinee in office. Too irritated. ;)

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  13. Whoaa, Preeti, I'm soooo proud of you. :P
    Some lessons learned, and some were revisions. :D
    Women, eavesdropping and gossips are similar words. A fact proved once again. :D :D
    Masssstt post! Yanjaayed reading to the core. :))
    Signing out,
    Me!
    (muaahahahahaha) :D

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  14. @Karthik: Thanks! :)
    And hello? I know a lot of guys who gossip and eavesdrop. Actually, I know more guys than girls who do that!

    Signing out! ;)

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  15. LOL. Hilarious. You've covered most of the important stuff. And I've done the earphone in ear but no music thing too ;)

    PS. Finally I can access your page! :D

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  16. I know, I know. I'm one of them too. :D

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  17. @Chinkurli: Hurray! Finally, you can comment and I can gloat about 2 more comments (1 yours and 1 mine)! ;)
    Good to know there are other like minded curious people like me! :D

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  18. @Karthik: Mujhe lag raha tha! Gut feeling they say! ;) :D

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  19. I personally find it extremely hard to not react to what's being said and keep a straight face. I resist the temptation though, most of the times :)
    Very interesting post :)

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  20. Thank you for the lessons and the practical example, Teacher :-P

    I like to eavesdrop but only on my in-laws :-D

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  21. @Kanishk: You need to work hard, buddy! ;)
    Thanks for stopping by, and welcome here! :)

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  22. @Rechristened: Hehe. Sorry student, I have no experience whatsoever in that subject! In-Law eavesdropping would be a new specialization altogether! :D

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  23. Haha. This is one hilarious post. The trick with earphones is really marvelous and infallible. I need to give it a shot after having learned your lessons:) And yeah, doing it in a subtle manner, like a pro(you, for example:)) is important otherwise it could spoil the party for all.

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  24. @Ajay: Glad you understand the Teacher so well! :)
    Do try and let me know of the results.. :)

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  25. Gal you are mad!!! But I am so with you on this...
    Psst: Had the earphones plugged in and music playing while in an office cab some years back. Heard this(I have exceptionally sharp hearing) chick sitting beside me tell a new guy on the other end, that, get this, I am a complete bitch!!! :o

    Psst psst: Great going with the lady in the metro...Ahhh...The simple joys of life... :D

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  26. @Choco: Lol! You actually heard them say that!! That is precisely the reason why we all need to work up on our eavesdropping skills! ;)

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  27. Javier Moro's book on Mrs G II... ??? You mean 'El Sari Rojo' (The Red Sari), which has already sold 230,000 copies... ???

    According to her lawyer and prominent Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Shingvi.. there were a “huge list of distortions” including a passage describing how Hindu priests prevented Mrs Gandhi from attending her husband’s cremation.

    He also disputed a passage describing how, after her husband’s death, she “suddenly thought of fleeing this country that devours its children”.

    Hmmm. We have to wait and watch.

    Meanwhile have a look: http://www.javiermoro.com/images/pdf_sari/The_Red_Saree.pdf

    Mr Moro’s account, about to come out in English, dwells on her relatively modest upbringing in Italy before she met Rajiv Gandhi while studying in Cambridge and moved to India to be his wife in 1968.

    He was the son of Mrs G-I, then India’s Prime Minister, and grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. He succeeded his mother on her assassination in 1984, and was himself assassinated in 1991.

    “The premise is fabulous: how a woman whose only ambition in life was to be a housewife ended up ruling a country of one billion people,” Mr Moro said.

    Ms Gandhi, 63, is considered the power behind Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister.

    “I still hope some clever guys with common sense will be able to see that this book is a boon for the Gandhis, the party, and especially for Sonia,” Mr Moro said.

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  28. LOL..Funny..You are truly a pro..I miss all the gossips, now that at the new work place, we all have offices of our own :(

    Ps.: Go get it...Office incidents will be there forever.....

    pps: Was it the finale? I didnt know that..Disappointing for me too..

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  29. @Roshmi: Thanks for the reply! :)
    I love to see the politicians scamer around trying to protect their leaders! This will be a fun thing to watch out for!

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  30. @Dil..: Thanks! Separate cabins must be boring! ;D
    And yeah, man! That was the finale.. Unbelievable tha! :(
    For such an awesome show, that's how they ended it!

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  31. It's been time since you wrote something.Why apathetic about writing? Hope to see your next post soon. :-)

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  32. yayyyy
    *clap clap clap* you rock!
    :D

    I sometimes act like I am sleeping, especially when the family meets, got to know such a lot of juicy gossip from aunties :D

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  33. @Ajay: Sigh. True. I have to write something. Blogger's Block phase chal raha hai! :( And work! Another Sighh.

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  34. @Celestial Rays: *Bows* Thanks ya! :)
    Oh and acting like sleeping is a superb trick. I have myself done it a couple of times. Didn't add it because, it ain't a beginner's trick. It's for pros like us! ;) :D

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  35. Oi! Why is this post showing as posted on 28th June aka today?? :j

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