Saturday, November 21, 2009

Of oddities and strangeness

This appeared in The South Asian Times on November 21st.

Lately I feel like I'm the chosen one. Life seems to be luring me with a variety of odd situations. Or maybe I'm looking out for them. Or simply being fussy. Either way, if I don't take them personally, they definitely seem to be on the funnier side.

As a hopeful up-and-coming photographer, I expect my online ad to yield some serious and some not-so-serious inquiries but no amount imagination would have prepped me for this one. A character who I presumed to be a frail old little lady warned me about her unusual request before starting her email but it didn't quite register in my head. Her dog had apparently bit a puppy and someone tipped her off saying the pup had recovered and was out and about having a good time. Our poor old lady of course preferred to stop paying for the extended treatment for the pup and thought of a brilliant idea. That of hiring a pro photographer with a telephoto lens who could do some detective work, catch the puppy on his evening strolls, yank out her zoom lens and take close up shots of the healed wound. All of this without the pup's owner getting any hints. If I wasn't living in a perennial time crisis, I'd have never passed on what I'd call a once in a lifetime opportunity of being a detective plus photographer, all at once.

On my way to pick up a friend, I took a wrong turn and landed up at the beach. It was a gorgeous day. As I was soaking the balmy air in on the Santa Monica Pier, I suddenly got surrounded by a small group of people carrying around literature, who just wanted a few minutes of my time. Having inherited a weakness for not being able to say no to people, I meekly agreed. Next thing I know, I get bombarded with questions about what my religion stands for vs. what a certain other religion had to offer. My day dreaming about catching some waves on a water scooter promptly gets ruined by profound questions that I couldn't furnish answers to. Seeing a weak target in front of them, their attack intensified and I had no option but to consider distracting them with a red kite in the air and running away. It’s not what ultimately happened but I was left with a subtle warning about where people land up if they don’t go that route and the answer isn’t heaven.

I was chilling with my family in San Francisco recently on a deceivingly hot afternoon. On the very crowded Pier 39, we sat to watch a stand up routine with some bland pretzels and coffee. As I was washing my hands in the women's bathroom later on, I noticed a young boy and a young girl walking towards the bathroom. Odd or not, I decided to stick around to gauge what the deal was. For a few moments, they locked themselves in one of the stalls; then boldly came out holding something that positively looked fishy… a.k.a. drugs. Before I could even decide if I wanted to tip off the cops or ignore, they ignored me and walked off.

Weird situations, although by their very nature aren't so welcoming, aren't so bad either. I'm changing my opinion about them actually. For one, they spice up life a little bit and balance it out. And more importantly, it gives you material for stories and keeps friends and family entertained. So next time you feel strangeness is luring you, go ahead, indulge. It'll definitely come in handy when you decide to write a memoir someday.

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