This is a prompt given by Chennai Bloggers Club admin Rajathilagam for me to write to come out of my blogging slump. And I think she gave it to me because these are two words she use often. But she actually knows a lot. About places, about things, about technology. When she was still working with some corporate giant and was not exploring jungles and camping, I have shamelessly used her technical expertise for my clients. And whenever I asked, she hadn’t even once said that she didn’t know and always got the work done.
Coming back to the topic “I know” are two words I hated since I was in school. I was not the kid to go to special coaching classes. When I went to the second grade, whenever the teacher asked questions everybody except me would raise their hands and shout “I know!” “I know”. That is the earliest memory of the word. I was the only one in the class who didn’t join the chorus. The teacher’s instead of asking “Do you know the answer?” started telling, “I assume that you don’t know the answer.” I never bothered to correct them. They can explain again; that is their job, I would think.
Later when I finished college and when I started working in a corporate setting I saw that nothing changed that much since school. When a client or customer asks about some new technology, nobody acknowledges that it is a new technology. The phrases, I know, We know, We are capable lost its meaning because as soon as heard those words, I thought people were lying. The ‘I know’ changes with department to department.
Me : There is an outage two minutes back. I have trouble logging in.
IT Guy: I know. I am working on it //sounds familiar?//
And when I moved up the ladder, “I know” meant that people don’t really care. Once I had to argue about giving a deserving person promotion over the person who was a sycophant. The senior manager on other end didn’t even make eye contact when I listed out the achievement of my guy. He was just saying “I know… I know.. but”
Not only in professional side but also in the personal side. I was so immersed in work and had zero social life when knowing anyone and everyone became the cool thing. It is not easy to watch a new stand up comedian or share a video of indie musician without someone saying “Oh! I know this guy”. When I genuinely want to get in touch with said artist and ask for introduction all I get is “Oh I met him backstage once” kind of replies. That is not knowing people. That is just acknowledging existence.
I have the same gripe with people who say they know me when they don’t even know my favorite color. I wonder if there is a difference between knowing and understanding. We pass judgement on actions and words of people we know. But we don’t do that when we understand them right? It was something I had been thinking and I really can’t come to a conclusion.
Last week, I met a group of friends in a restaurant and we were generally having fun. Out of nowhere a friend asked if I knew about the friend of a friend who was killed in an accident. I grew silent. I took a sip of water. The dreams that guy shared with me during a brief meeting, His gesture offering referrals for my business, the way he took me around Chennai to introduce me to some of his business contacts. Since we lived in different ends of the city, our conversations remained strictly official and we didn’t hang out. I knew he was looking forward to hold his baby and excited about the new house he had commissioned. Did I really know him enough?
I had to break the awkward silence. I gulped down the water, “I know him” I said, setting the glass down hard enough that the ripples it made took quite some time to settle.