Mum’s the word

[This article originally appeared in the Deccan Herald]

“They are freshly washed!” I become conscious of the hovering waiter. I ‘m seated at a newly opened “fine-dining” restaurant in the neighbourhood. The waiter must have seen me staring at the glasses on my table. After he takes my order and leaves, I begin to wonder if the food is being prepared in a clean kitchen? When was the last time these plates had been washed in hot water? The poor waiter had no idea that I had actually been admiring the fluted design of the glasses! In his over-zealous attempt to please, he had inadvertently led me to ponder on the restaurant’s hygiene.

I have barely begun to eat, when my cell phone rings. I see it’s my friend. “I didn’t make it!” he says in a voice filled with disappointment. He had failed to clear the admission test for the college of his choice. “The worst thing is the principal told me that I missed the cutoff by only a few marks!” Even as I sympathize with him, I fume at the principal’s insensitivity for giving my friend the complete details of his failure. How relevant was it to mention that he’d missed by just a few marks?

There are times when I wish people refrain from full disclosure. Holding back is hard, as there’s a little voice inside all of us that says “Keep going, tell all!” It’s one of those peculiar traits we seem to have – an enthusiasm to blurt it ALL out. Rarely do we stop to think if the other person truly needs the gory details. The line demarcating a succinct synopsis from needless Bollywood narration is unclear to most.

The best way I have found to not cross the line is to keep the lovely Spanish proverb in mind – “If you keep your mouth shut, the flies won’t get in!”

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