Sunday, April 22, 2012


Before the advent of online maps and smartphones we still could go to unknown places with ease thanks to good Samaritans sprinkled all over India. As long as we knew the general direction, the right city and some landmark we were good to go. You just hop into your car and then on your way stop and ask people.

Now, choosing the right person to ask for directions itself is an art. Without sounding biased, I generally keep away from well dressed people (yeah they are clueless), people who look like they don't belong to that area (for this, you have to remember Little Tiffany from Men-In-Black video provided below) and people too old to respond “ah?”. The best people to ask for directions are necessarily the roadside paan vendors and newspaper stalls. They generally not only know the area extremely well, but also they know the people (and their history as well). “Oh so you wanna meet the old uncle whose 3 daughters are in the States and his son is always in a state of intoxication?”, they ask. “I just saw him go home after running errands from the neighbouring shop. I think he bought some chips and a bottle of coke! At this age also he eats junk food!”, they provide additional information.

I once had a over zealous guy sit in my car and take me to a the place that I was looking for because he said “giving directions would be too complicated for you to understand!”. Learning from India, I once did the mistake of asking for directions in the US (yeah some 6 years ago). The guy was so rude that he asked me to strip naked and stand in the middle of the road so that the police pick me up and then they drop me at the right destination. it was a cultural learning for me to never ask for directions in that country again!

Now, I tend to walk a lot in the area where I live (not because I am health conscious, but because I have nothing much to do in the evenings and driving around in the traffic is not an option!). I get approached by a lot of clueless people looking for directions. Going by my explanation above that means – I am shabbily dressed and I look like a true native.

Now, most of the times I am pretty okay with my directions and I kinda guide people to the right place (or I think so). Today was one of those unlucky days when I actually guided a person to enter into a one-way lane and see him get stopped by a policeman. I am sure the guy must be very angry for me to have lead him there. So this is more of a guilt-laden blog post. Anyway, I have had my share of direction bloopers before in which I accidentally told people to take left when it was right etc. But I think today’s was the lamest.

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