lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Sunday, February 19, 2006

One man's fish is another's poisson

Here is a nice clue I came across: Pain (6,5).

Hey, don't worry, this is just an itsy bitsy teeny tiny crossword reference to jog your little grey cells a la Poirot.

The solution is: French Bread.

So is the fish in my title of the post a poisson, in French. :D

As to why I am bringing pain into the picture, whether English or French, is simply this: do people hear what you say, or what they want to hear? (That is what cryptic clues are about, and solving them is about.)

I think I am a reasonable person. My son begs to differ. I think I am a long-suffering and patient mother and he thinks I have an extremely short fuse.

Our perceptions, and those of others differ so markedly, that it's a wonder we can communicate at all. I say 'gray', and my friend calls it 'ash blue'. I say 'tangy', and my husband says 'too sour'.

We all experience the world differently.

Even what is said and what is heard are not the same, sometimes. When a friend says, 'you are looking well', I hear 'you have put on weight'. When I say, 'you have lost weight', she probably hears 'you are looking dreadful'. Our own perceptions, pre-conceived ideas, our mind-sets colour our reception of these remarks.

If this is universal, how do we manage to communicate? Note something. All the examples I have used are concepts and perceptions.

'It is raining' is unequivocal. So is a statement of time (depending on where on the globe you are, :D), or cricket scores. It is the intangibles that are troublesome.

I perceive something, but I have no guarantee that I can ever adequately describe it, or make it known to another person. When a person says something, I am never sure I understand what exactly was meant. I hear what my perception and experience and mood primes me to hear.

If I am having a bad hair day, and a friend says 'you are looking good', most likely I will interpret the remark as a white lie, or a sympathetic gesture; that is, if I am a pessimistic person. If I am an optimist, I might feel cheered and reassured by the same remark and think, hey, perhaps my bad hair day is not so bad after all.

Our attitudes and personalities tend to set us up to receive inputs in our ways.

Take noise, for instance. What I think of as ear-splitting levels is what my son thinks of as the right level of volume for his music, or the television. When I remonstrate with him about it, in a reasonable fashion, giving justified arguments for lowering the volume, he hears that as a criticism and a rant. :D

He has this habit of fiddling with things, tossing things up and catching them while conversing; not to mention the demolition derbies he plays with clothes-pegs, and leaving a litter of soda caps and badly opened packets of chips. And I am not even starting on how my pens disappear and/or miss their caps when he is around. :D

The other day, as we were chatting, he was playing with my pencil sharpener. It was a nice sharpener, it had a nifty little cap to catch the pencil shavings, and it is an indispensable tool for really tough crosswords. What with my latest book of crosswords, and the weekly toughies, I need my pencils and eraser and yes, the sharpener. Well, the conversation done with, he went back to the mess he calls his room.

But, alas, when he left the room, the cap, the nifty little thingie from my sharpener, was missing. I looked high and low for it, and finally lost my temper and vented. (Okay, even moms are allowed to let off steam once in a while. :D)

He was baffled. Flabbergasted, even. It still works, doesn't it? So what is the big deal, was his attitude towards the whole thing.

For me, it was a matter of interfering with my possessions, and being inconsiderate. I had been saying 'don't play with my things' for a decade, but obviously I was not putting it forth clearly enough. It took an assault on my most needed items for me to erupt in imitation of the Kraktoa. :D

He kept saying that he will buy me a dozen sharpeners, but even he could see that was not the point. The point was that he finally got his mother hopping mad. About a trivial thing, maybe.

But it illustrates my point. When I say, ' hey, stop fingering my things', and variations on the theme thereof, for a decade, I am ignored. When I lose my temper royally and get worked up, it finally makes an impression.

So how does one go about saying fish is poisson? It is all perception, anyhow; a deal of experience mingled with the influences of the environment you are nurtured in. Today if I say, "You went and lost my sharpener's cap", my son will say, "You fly off the handle at trivial things", and we are both right in our perceptions and reactions.

As long as it is not governments who are laying down laws, incompatibility, being at odds, never agreeing on any topic and all such traits become part of how we deal with our world.

Like Nash said, a little incompatibility is the spice of life, particularly if he has income and she is pattable. :D

I got mad, and I said 'I will blog about this you know', and my son smiled. Indulgently! Arrgh!

One man's fish being another's poisson.



Anonymous dipali said...

One of my favourite posts! It is really well written, and also very profound- some very valid observations made here, Missus Em!

10:57 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Thank you kindly, ma'am.

11:06 pm  

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