This is the season for intimate encounters with the world. It can happen anywhere. During chance meeting at Odel. At one of the season’s many presex parties. Or any social gatherings. Iresspective of the place, the best encounters occur through one portal: the eyes of visiting expats and the duller details of their daily lives.
You need a spy’s skills. Which are the basic tools of people who write (note I didn’t say “writers”). Listen instead of blabbing. See habits and mannerisms without staring. Prompt with non intrusive empathy so people reveal more.
Get the moves right, and you can touch intimate views of the far away world. Such as how people want to live their lives. What they really value. The inseparable pairings of their hopes and fears. Extract the deeper truths from their body language theatre.
Look for details in their daily friction of living in the world. The trade offs demanded for joy in their lives. The grind that pays for it. Not just in money, but also in time and effort (mental and physical).
The daily routines of the house hold. When do they wake up. Is it a stressful business getting the kids woken, fed, bathed, dressed and out the door. The commute: how long is it. How crazy is the traffic. Without comparisons, all urban traffic is crazy. The scene at work: what are the relationships there like? The politics of personalities. The return home: what’s the end of the day like. Does the family feed at the same trough. Who does what about the hovel.
The hovel itself will tell its own tale. It’s location revealing social class and income. The age and state of the place. The decor: a portrait of what the inhabitants want to show and hide.
Social events. Who do you meet. Associate with. How do you deal with the weather. The gossip of the wives are novels no one is skilled enough to write. The list marches on but you have gotten the drift of it by now. One thing always prompts another. Until I can sense intrusiveness beyond the horizon of the conversation. Then it’s time to fade out before I’m noticed.
This sort of thing is not new. The algorithms of any internal government spy service churn through this stuff from its citizens’ data scent. I absorb it a sub conscious level. I am no anthropologist. Aside from laziness, I have no time or knowledge or inclination for a formal processing. Perhaps I should. Do you?
What I seek from this is an institutive understanding of the world. What’s going on in it. How it moulds people within the web of primal human impulses. Of course it’s flawed approach. But it’s more fun than yet another autopsy of Sri Lankan cricket no?