Conspiracy theories

(From last weekend in the NIE)

On a Saturday evening in Dublin I was startled suddenly by a gang of women in short pink wigs apparently running towards me. At the last moment, though, they turned towards the street and I realized that they were merely trying to get a taxi. As they ran across the road into a waiting cab, I realized that they were all accomplishing this in most unstable looking pairs of high heels.
I’ve been traveling rather a lot recently, and at every airport and station I have been struck by the athleticism shown by women in stilettos. They walk briskly along main roads. They negotiate traffic. Cobblestones. Huge amounts of luggage. Or even all of the above. When I wear stilettos I teeter. I can barely negotiate furniture and a handbag. If there is any soft ground anywhere I will find it and sink into it. I catch myself wondering if there were secret classes held to teach people how to negotiate these shoes that I somehow got left out of.
It’s the same with a number of other minor skills. Each year during the monsoons I curse my inability to competently roll up my jeans so that they won’t get drenched in the rain. One leg will always be longer than the other, and the minute a dirty puddle appears the whole thing unravels and rushes lovingly down into the mud. It’s like one of those old myths about how certain animals came to be the way they are – “one day the gods summoned all the animals to teach them how to roll up their jeans. Only one animal did not arrive. Aishwarya was asleep in the forest and so had missed the message”.
Comfortingly, I am not alone in the “secret lessons” theory. Stephen Fry (actor, author and genius at large) has also voiced this suspicion. In a post on his blog a few months ago he spoke of his inability to dance and his bafflement when, as a child, all his classmates seemed to know how to do it. “Here were boys and girls my age twisting, spinning and jumping at each other and they all seemed to know what they were doing. Had I been confined to the sick room with an asthma attack the day disco dancing was covered in the syllabus?” Evidently I’m in distinguished company. A friend of mine believes that the art of whistling, too, might be said to fall into this category of mysterious skills. She’s been trying for years, asking for help from anyone who might provide it, and no amount of practice or instruction has ever coaxed a sound out of her. She’s beginning to suspect they are giving her the wrong directions to keep her out of the club.
As a whistler myself, however, I can assert that this is not the case. I can remember exactly where I was and how old when I first learnt to whistle, the ability just arrived out of nowhere. Perhaps dancing, and walking in high heels, and rolling up one’s jeans; all these and countless other actions are also just instinctive – some are lucky enough to have them and some aren’t. But it all seems terribly unfair.

10 Comments to “Conspiracy theories”

  1. The last time I tried on stilletoes, I ended up taking them off and walking for quite some distance on the road barefoot. In Singapore, evryone wears heels and most of them are very balanced, but I still see some women who seem uncomfortable and awkward.

    The puddle thing though, I do deliberately. :)

  2. I can outperform plenty of people in a hurdle race with stilletoes on.
    And I think Supriya will vouch for it!

    :P

  3. I, on the other hand, find it impossible to roll up both my shirt sleeves in a way that they appear to cover (and expose) both my arms by an equal proportion. I once decide to trick my sleeves into obeying the laws of sartorial mathematics by folding them both thrice, each time by the exact width of my cuff. I still managed to find one exposing at least two more inches of my forearm than the other.

    I thought that maybe my arms were different lengths – but that didn’t explain why the cuffs always look symmetric when they’re buttoned at the wrist.

    -Jabberjee

  4. I object to your calling balancing in heels a “minor skill.” It is so massively important omg.

  5. “It’s like one of those old myths about how certain animals came to be the way they are – “one day the gods summoned all the animals to teach them how to roll up their jeans. Only one animal did not arrive. Aishwarya was asleep in the forest and so had missed the message”. “

    haha! i literally loled.

  6. “the minute a dirty puddle appears the whole thing unravels and rushes lovingly down into the mud”… quite a funny way to express a very simple thing. An interesting read.

  7. :D I’ve been trying to teach my brother to whistle, at his insistence, for the past many years. He’s 17, and he now settles for a whistle like sound he takes out of his vocal cords to con the world into thinking he can actually do it :P

    (Not that I’m a whistler-I’ve only ever managed to make tentative whistley sounds that are sometimes robust enough to qualify :D)

  8. Sumedha – I’m willing to believe you splash deliberately (and hey, who doesnt?) but do you like having the bottoms of your jeans wet and dirty? Really?
    Singaporean women (and Dublin women) terrify me with their comfort on scary shoes!

    Scherezade – Surely this is because you’re awesome?

    Jabberjee – Eep, I’m not sure I can manage that one either. Though clearly in your case you are awesome and it is the fault of the manufacturer.

    Kav – Humble apologies!

    BQ – *grin*. I was pleased with that bit myself – I’m glad someone else thought it was funny.

    Lalit – Thank you!

    Sporadicblogger – I’m afraid if he can’t do it at 17 he probably never will…

  9. It is, indeed, a gift, that ability.

  10. hiya,
    nice post :)
    I read ur “bus kolam” post in The Express.. It was really good !
    kudos :D

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