The other day the boss came out to my workstation and stood there discussing some work.
As he was talking, a fleeting thought, that he looked a tad different did cross my mind- but I shrugged it off as a haircut or something.
During a pause in the conversation, he turned to me and asked me “So, what do you think of my new look”
Okay. So apparently it was NOT a haircut. Something dramatic. But WHAT? Time to tread carefully!
“Uhm..er..Yes, you ARE looking a bit different.. er..what did you do?”
‘I shaved off my beard? Didn’t you notice?’
Ah yes. Now that he mentioned it, he did have some foliage on his chin (or did he?)
Feebly offered a “Well, at least the husband will be happy I don’t look at other men’s faces”
One icy (“We are not amused”) look and he was gone.
A little later, me, in my best bhatakti atma mode drifted into his cabin.
(Now, I have to spend a couple of lines discussing the bhatakti atma mode of mine. The closest analogy I can think off is being high on alcohol – the same sort of delightful irresponsibility and buzz in the head (minus the delightful part of it). Bosses have been known to pat me on my head and send me home to sleep it off. One can recognize this stage by a particularly vacuous, lost look in the eyes and the tendency to shoot off ones mouth without remembering the diktat that discretion is the better part of valour (quite like alcohol in fact) )
So anyways, I drift into the cabin and say “Did you really, REALLY have a beard? I can’t for the life of me remember what you looked like. Can you show a snap to prove it?”
'PROVE IT’? What prove it? My feet, someone please pull them out of my mouth. WHAT was I thinking????
Now why does this happen? Here is a man, who I have spent the significant part of last year looking at -not voluntarily, not because it gives me an aesthetic pleasure, but because I have to. By this time I should have known each and every wrinkle (hope he never reads this heheh) by heart. However, the sad reality is that – if I don’t see him for a fortnight, it’s not improbable that I forget what he looks like.
I seem to have this fundamental, congenital inability to remember faces.
I get into lifts and have people gushing at me, and I have been known to ask them who they are. When people smile at me in office corridors I have to resort to these immensely complicated calculations to arrive at their identity (ok-if-xyz-is-coming-out-of-abc’s-cabin (which-has-the-name-plate-thank-god)-who-seems-to-be-xyz’s-boss-viola-xyz-must-pqr). I have made acquaintances wait outside the door for fifteen minutes till my mother came and kicked me for not letting so-and-so uncle-who-used-to-know-me-before-I-was-born into the house. In college, I had a reputation of being an incurable shutterbug; my friends didn’t realise that it was less about preserving nostalgic memories for posterity, but more as a future reference for my appalling memory.
And the truth is, I can’t even blame it entirely on my memory –I can remember absolutely useless trivia about people – their allergies and ex-boyfriends telephone numbers, birthdays of their aunts. Anything- but faces!
I cannot blame it on ageing either – have had this problem ever since I can recall. In fact, my parents had a long-running joke (which I did NOT find very funny) on how I would fail to recognize them on the street after a month’s gap or so.
I have tried Jumpin Jeetu’s memory plus, have devised series of memory enhancing mnemonics’ which while entertaining (so-and-so has a face-like-a-rabbit), do not provide any discernible help in practise. So the only solution I have is to paste this idiotic smile on my face every time I see anyone (known, unknown, familiar, unfamiliar) and depending upon the other persons reaction (a reciprocated smile or a blank-why-is-this-vague-femme-grinning-at-me look) arrive at some sort of conclusion.
I take hope from one of my aunts. Soon after their engagement was formalized, my uncle went to her house to take her out to the chowpati (Aka Amol Palekar in countless movies). My aunt opened the door, looked at him blankly while my poor, embarrassed uncle (who was under the impression that his fiancée WOULD recognize him) stood there tongue tied, then went up to her father to tell him that “There is some strange man at the doorstep – I think he wants to sell something”
Thank God most offices have those dog-collar-identity tags these days.
P.S. For the record, I did go and check the boss’ snap later and realized that his beard had covered 3/4th of his face. Sigh.