I’ve just returned from what I hope but do not expect will be my last car journey in the company of a PR person; these creatures are necessary inconveniences of a journalist’s life. Remember the scene in the film Se7en where the detectives discover the psychopathic serial killer’s (Kevin Spacey) diaries? Contained therein are the stream-of-consciousness scribblings of a man greatly angered by the garrulousness of the world. One entry describes how once an old man sitting next to him on a park bench went on babbling senselessly about his life until Spacey threw up all over him. ("He was not pleased" goes Spacey’s deadpan voice.)
Well, I felt the serial killer’s pain as I sat in the car today, though I held my vomit. This PR guy actually said things like "So, how many brothers and sisters are you?" to me. (Answer: "One.") He asked me about my education, my parents, where and how and why I grew up, and many other details of my life I had succeeded in consigning to my sub-consciousness years ago. And there wasn’t even a reason for his curiosity. He didn’t have a sister or a mother he wanted me to marry. He just had to keep talking. It was intolerable. It got so bad that after a point I started saying inane things of my own volition in order to pre-empt him. (That way, at least I’d get to listen to my own nonsense instead of his.)
How, in the depths of my despair, I wonder, can people just blabber on and on and on without pausing ONCE to look outside the car window and appreciate the sky, the birds, the trees, the profane motorists and the Okhla Industrial Area smog? Whatever happened to glorious uncomfortable silences?