Friday 26 November 2010

A conversation . . .

I don’t know how this experience will affect me but I know that it has touched me. For the first time in my life, I had a conversation with someone who was a bit soft in the head. She was smiling to herself and seated on the row of chairs arranged for passengers to sit. I was waiting for my train to arrive. I was travelling alone to Chennai. I sat down beside her. She looked intently at me and exclaimed: “You look very beautiful.” I smiled. She lovingly caressed my left cheek and again said: “You are a beauty —calm and quiet. You smell very good. I like the way you look and smell.” I again smiled at the obvious admiration. I still did not think she was mad.

Then she asked me about my education. I struggled to tell her as I was not sure if she would understand. I anyway told her. She smiled and said: “You are very intelligent. I am not. But I have mingled with many people like you and a bit of their intelligence has rubbed off on me.” I patiently listened. She went on: “I know many wise people like you. What I know is nothing. My knowledge is but a drop.”

She told me that I reminded her of a person she used to know who also quite beautiful and smelled good like me. She looked at me intently and smiled. Then she started talking non-stop about the entire pantheon of Hindu goddesses and how we should not burden the earth. It was only then I started feeling a bit uncomfortable as I wished to be with myself. She talked and talked and when I did not respond by saying ‘yes,’ she would force a ‘yes’ from me. I was a bit reluctant to continue sitting there.

From then on started my meanderings on madness. She seemed much wiser than many common people. Her examples and diction were impeccable (in Tamil). Was she mad? By the standards of the world, yes but otherwise . . . I don’t know.

What makes someone mad? There are degrees, I presume. I might be saner than X but less sane than Y. Is there madness in everyone? Maybe . . .

Have you pondered on madness? Do you think that you might be mad in some way? Maybe . . .


  1. I've always thought and this goes for the people around me too, that I've lost a couple of screws somewhere and therefore, the being I am today ;) But I wouldn't be me, if I were not like this!!

  2. Another great post from you my friend.;) I think we all are mad, to a certain degree. Madness and artistic streak go hand in hand. All the great artist and geniuses were borderline psychotic, as when you are sensitive to the world around you, you can not process the thoughts and impressions in a rational way.
    Madness in itself is a very relative term I believe as who is to decide what the norm is?;))
    Great read as usual, have a lovely Friday dear Susan,

    PS: I am so sure though that you indeed are beautiful, intelligent and smell good.;))

  3. I do believe that within each one of us lies madness that shows up in different ways. Without that streak of madness how are we to learn about right or wrong or even the simple dealings of life.
    We use the term madly in love! To what degree is this madness.... it is all relative...

  4. two weeks back, when I was going to Ernakulam from Fort Kochin in a bus, Unfortunately I sat with a dipsomaniac, who is also a photographer. He started instructing me about how to use my camera, often he apologized for his state and started his advices. Like you, after sometime I stopped responding to him, but he continued. After half-an hour,he got down from the bus.

  5. i think we all carry a bit of madness in us...and i like to call it passion...what pulls us through when all else fail and what we sit up at night thinking about...

  6. You have finally caught me on a topic I have never thought about. I am stumped. Don't know what to say. Maybe I'll think for a while a come back for a comment.

  7. Sometimes we call madness what is different, different from what we have been told is the norm. Also, some people like the lady on your post, have not developed social skills, personal space, that is part of the so called madness. They may be extremely bright but they lack the skills to mingle in society. Autistic people are very intelligent, for example

  8. I'm an old psychotherapist so I had plenty of contact with those considered "mad".

    I think we are indeed all touched by our own unique way of percieving and behaving. Some will call it madness, neurosis or whatever. We humans are such mysteries.

    Thanks for your post. Like Suzana, I know you truly are beautiful.

  9. wow! interesting post. I think we all can tap into some sort of madness within ourselves. given the right circumstances, experiences and influences. this woman made you uncomfortable. Was it the things she was saying or was it the fact that she was pushing herself on you?

    thank you for your thought provoking post

  10. Is there not a certain bit of insanity in each of us? In living this earthly life? Is suffering pain, fear, apprehension, unhappiness
    --is any of that really bereft of madness?

    OTOH, would it not be sweet to just be allowed to blame all my defects of character on an illness--insanity? Rather than just to say "I fucked up"?

    Oh! What bliss is 'not knowing', not accounting for...--grin!

    As you can tell, I'm MAD!!! And I am GLAD to be MAD. That title solves all of what I thought were my problems.

    Another TERRIFIC write, dear Susan D.

    The glad, mad-a-roni

  11. An I mad in some way??

    Without question Susan but it makes for a very interesting life :)

    I enjoyed this post and imagined you sitting on the bus with her attention. I am sure you were very gracious and she appreciated the special time you gave her. I can see she touched your life and I imagine you will never forget that encounter.

    Best wishes Susan..

    Jeanne xx

  12. As you so well say in that piece at your sidebar "It may be a CRAZY life, but it's our life..."
    How mad am I? as much as they let me... and who are they? Other mad ones whose madness I dislike... mine when compared to other's seem to be worse, but that's the same old story so closely related to low self esteem.
    I am glad I am so mad and not so...where is the limit? Who much can we dare speak to others who we don't know and expect them to be sane...?

    Oh this could go on and on... Why do you do this to me? My sweetest?

    Thought provoking. Coming here is kind of therapeutical (is that a word)lol

    PS.So glad to see our Sweet Veroni here today!!!


  13. Susan

    I would say you were quite patience with her right from the beginning.
    I think it is by degrees, with some of us more then others...

    However, at least she thought well of you in your looks and grooming, so that has to be good....

    Have a wonderful week filled with blessings especially now knowing how pretty you are to others.

    warm wishes to you dear one,

  14. You haven't mentioned her approximate age. Age is important as it can offer some clue to one's behaviour. After a certain age , most people go a little "soft in the head" as a result of life's many trials.

    Anyway,you should be pleased; the woman said nice things about you.

  15. Yikes - now I am worried about the comment I made on 'Forks Off The Moment's' blog. Thanks a lot.
    As to your question - I not admitting anything.

  16. Dear Susan, this is a very deep post, and it touched me on many levels. I'm not sure if you know, but I've worked with people who suffered a bit of what I call being "out of the norm", simply because society has defined norms for what is acceptable and what isn't for everything in life, and they don't seem to fit gently inside that clean bell-shaped curve of normalcy. What I have found, though, is that people can be abnormal, and yet in their own way, wise. I have found myself shaking my head at someone who has been placed in the box of "retarded" or labeled "aggressive" or "non-responsive", because they did something that was outside of their definition... they had a moment of coherence where they said something that was highly intelligent, for example. And this has always brought me to a humbling understanding that what we define as madness and normalcy are our definitions, only. What do they think of us?, is a question I often ask myself. And I'm sure some of the people we label as "abnormal" look at us sometimes and wonder, "What the hell?"

    It's so lovely to come back to reading you, Susan. I started to make my rounds, yesterday... got interrupted. And I hate to quickly scribble something and be on my way. So, I thought I'd wait until I had some quality time.

    Take care.

  17. A very deep post...I am sure many would be contemplating on @ different points of life.
    I think the quality that makes us wise is the 'reasoning' and by wise what everyone else mean is to act like rest of the gang even if they are wrong
    So as soon as the 'reasoning' is lost, we see the world through a clearer lens

  18. Interesting read..... thank you for sharing. Blessings.

  19. many a times, similar thots hv passed throgh my mind. We think mad people in the world are mad and they think we are mad.....Madness, in a way, I feel, is an extereme form of intelligence...... We shouldn't forget our great scientists have also been termmed as 'mad'. Were they really so?

  20. Ashes:

    Tell me something you and I have not thought together!!!

    Love you.


    Thanks for your lovely words. You are very kind, aren't you?

  21. Savira:

    Yes, I do guess we are all a bit mad in some way or the other. And it is very relative.


    Might have been a great experience. You should write about that.

  22. Brian:

    Passion is a lovely word, Brian. I think that woman had a passion for literature.


    I am waiting here. Do come back.

  23. Myriam:

    I think so. Different from the so called conventions of society and civility. I wonder what she thought of me when she first saw me!


    We are very mysterious creatures. So much to unearth and discover and I keep excavating everyday, dear Myrna.

  24. Hope:

    She was talking nonstop and after a while I grew a bit impatient. You are always welcome dear Hope.


    You are mad, I know. Sweet madness in ye is so lovable, dear Steve :) Big hugs.

  25. Jeanne:

    I will never forget that. Maybe I will never get another chance like this one. Have a lovely December, dear Jeanne.


    I love you for what you have written dear Dulce. And how glad I am to see Veroni too :-)

  26. Joanny:

    Pretty, pretty me. How your words lighten me up dear Joanny. Big hugs and lots of love.


    My guess is that she might have been 35-40. Nice things, yes :) A beaming me!

  27. GQ:



    So so glad to see my dear Nevine again. I was missing your presence so much. "What the hell?" made me think. That incident made a deep impact on me. After I left her, she started talking aloud about trains and airplanes and then started singing loudly. People were beginning to get a bit startled.

    Warm hugs to you, dear Nevine.


    I bet. Hmmmm.

  28. JBR:

    Thanks for coming by. Blessing double-fold to you.


    How nice to see your comment. Hope all has been well with you. Mad people just have a different normalcy than ours. I might be mad to someone else who is unlike me. Everything is relative, I reckon. Take care :)

  29. I think there are two types to this. One who are born that way, with a slight off balance, and other other category who goes off balance by something triggering it off in their life.
    But its very difficult for the family members if such people.

  30. Labeling any behavior as madness is our way of dealing with what we do not accept as normal...

  31. your posts are always so deep and thought provoking and comment provoking - and i always feel badly when i am unable to comment comprehensively as i might like - in any event, still another of your beautifully poignant stories - perhaps this lady is a seer who saw in you so much beyond the visible - she sounds incredibly beautiful in her own way and extremely interesting - someone i would very much like to be sitting next to on a train ride, actually - in terms of our own individual sanity, madness or whatever one might call it - but of course i am sure we all possess at least a coloring of whatever that sometimes elusive thing is - but i believe also that it is part and parcel of our whole spirit and not to be diminished so much as it sparks our inner spirit, our passion and creativity - it makes us who we are - it individualizes us - and i'm sure that there are some who view such characteristics as dysfunctional, not to be tolerated - and while in extreme cases, i might agree, i think such quirks are quite beautiful and endearing - but that is just me! ;)

    lest i forget, i do hope you'll make it over to one of my blogs and my post requesting addresses of a few days ago - would love to send you a card at the new year!

    peace and love -

  32. I KNOW I am mad in some ways. I believe we all are to some degree. I am impressed, however, that you were all right with a complete stranger patting your cheek. I tend to keep well away from anyone I don't know.

  33. Joe:

    My guess is that the woman became like that mid-way in her life. She seemed to be abandoned by her family.



  34. Jenean:

    Thanks, as always for your very kind words. Goodness dear. I don't think I could have sat next to her for a longer period of time. But I am with you when you say that we all possess a colouring of insanity albeit in different degrees. And it makes us! So nicely written, dearest Gypsy!

    I will hop over and leave my address right away!

    Joy always to ye.


    Perhaps I am a bit more insane than you :) Smiles and hugs.

  35. Work with different forms of mental health problems every day...whether it's behavioural, emotional, or intellectual disabilities. To be honest, sometimes I do query on what basis we come up with the labels...the criteria to define what's 'normal' and what's not. At other times, it's quite obvious. :|

  36. The criteria always has degrees. But most of the time, we go by what a 'society' defines as 'normal.' But it is debatable.

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