I don’t make a good first impression. For starters, I’m vertically challenged and it is a proven fact that it’s the tall people who get noticed first; followed by medium-sized people, and by the time they get down to noticing me, something interesting has happened or someone has said something hilarious and everyone’s now busy focusing on that. Now this situation could be easily fixed if I were Eva Longoria (we share the same height) but I’m not.
That’s all right though, we can still find a way out. All I need is a big, colourful personality.
You know all those people who walk into a room as if everyone’s gathered there just to hear them speak? Yeah, them. Are you picturing someone right now? It helps if you picture them. They can talk about anything – it doesn’t have to make sense or even be particularly funny. And many people even secretly admit to finding their constant need for the spotlight, annoying, after a while. BUT. They make a good first impression. A chance that is entirely denied to us introverted, socially-awkward folk.
So. I have to rely heavily on such things as good nature and my ability to sustain deep, meaningful conversations and relationships. Everything has to be about depth and meaning because clearly, I’m completely lacking on the cosmetic front. This is why I don’t even bother putting my back into small talk. People mistakenly conclude that this is because I must be some kind of snob, but it’s completely untrue. It’s because I need time.
See, unlike all those flashy, charming people who will swoop right in, bowl you over and disappear before you can pick yourself up, I will take my time to grow on you. Sure, I can’t hold a party together, dance to save my life and no, rooms do not get brighter when I walk into them.
But give me some time, and I’ll know all your faces, all your noises, your defence mechanisms, your weird things, your annoying traits - and unlike most people who will give up on you at this stage, I’ll just be getting started.
And suddenly, you won’t even remember what you thought when you first met me because by now, we’d have the kind of friendship that actually matters. And all the party chit-chat in the world will not be able to replace it. If you’re a sucker, this might even cloud your judgment and make you think I’m kind of pretty. Deep and meaningful with even a healthy amount of delusion. What’s not to like?
It’s because I’m not trying to make an impression to begin with. I’m looking for people worth investing in. In some ways I feel like this has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve lived in Chennai all my life. It just strikes me as a quintessentially Chennai trait. I mean, while all the colourful complaints about this place might be true, I also suspect it’s because people might be looking at it with all the wrong expectations. Because as almost anyone who has adopted this city would tell you, it does not make a good first impression. But it has a way of sneaking up on you, getting under your skin and much to your surprise, you realize that you don’t even want to shake it off.
It doesn’t have Bombay’s appetite for constant excitement or Bangalore’s fabulous weather, but for some unfathomable reason, it’s the one place you want to rush to when you’ve spent more than a few weeks anywhere else. Because while all those other cities are great for small talk, Chennai is the one that really gets you. And not the you-in-high-heels-blowing-page-3-style-air-kisses, it gets the you-in-pyjamas-listening-to-Ricky-Martin-in-secret-shame. And it loves you anyway. So you reciprocate in the only way you possibly can – you call it home.
As I recently overheard a twenty-something guy describe Chennai– ‘It’s like the not-very-good-looking-but-sweet chick you ignore at first, but end up marrying.’
Yeah, sounds about right.