A Story by Prateeksha Khot

Privacy is a hugely abused entity, at least in my case. Sometimes I even wonder if I ever had any...............


PERSONAL SPACE . According to researchers of non-verbal communication there are four types of 'space' which people should follow in order to have comfortable communication with others and display good manners. They are :

1) Intimate Distance : ranges from touching to about eighteen inches (46 cm) apart and is for lovers, children, as well as close family members and friends.
2) Personal Distance : begins about an arm's length away; starting around eighteen inches (46 cm) from our person and ending about four feet (122 cm) away. We use personal distance in conversations with friends, to chat with associates, and in group discussions.
3) Social Distance : area that ranges from four to eight feet (1.2 m - 2.4 m) away from you. Social distance is reserved for strangers, newly formed groups, and new acquaintances.
4) Public Distance : includes anything more than eight feet (2.4 m) away from you.

Hmm. Looks so good on paper. Would have been wonderful if it was actually implemented as well. But of course we ,as humans, have a very basic inbuilt instinct - To defy anything that has been specifically told is good . So though I would have liked everyone to follow these beautifully researched  and recommended rules - in order to gain some peace of mind - somehow or the other I  happen to come across people who seem hell bent on infringing my personal - or is it the intimate? - space. It kind of makes me wonder whether it is just me or is it a norm everywhere.

No . I am not complaining .I am not the complaining type - the one who when peeved will lash out and make it clear what's wrong . I am the I-want-to-wring-your-neck-for-irritating-me-but-since-I-can't-do-anything-I-will-grin-and-bear type. Which means that pesky co-seaters get away with their nosiness all the time. Oh ! I guess I still haven't made clear what exactly bothers me. Guess I will provide a snippet of a normal journey which I undergo many times :

NOTE PLEASE : I am not even starting on silly rouges, eve-teasers and male roving eyes which I have to endure for the simple reason of being a girl. That's a vast territory which will require a few thousand pages just to give a gist and so let's stay clear from it. My problems for now are something totally different.

Scene 1 :
 I get into an almost empty bus and sit down on a window seat. Just as I seem to be enjoying some solitude, a middle aged lady appears out of nowhere and hurls herself beside me taking almost 3/4 of the seat. Not that it matters much as she seems to think I can squeeze my butt in the few cms. of seat space left for me. As I try to make my displeasure clear through my face, she remains totally oblivious and instead returns a wide toothed grin to me.
I look around and observe that all the two and three seaters around me are empty but of course she decides to sit right next to me. Now I know I shouldn't complain; everyone has a right to sit anywhere they want in this free democratic country. The thing though is that I can't fathom why she would want to sit so uncomfortably - her voluptuous figure clearly indicates that she is in dire need of more seat space - when she could have had a whole seat all by herself.

Scene 2 :
I manage to somehow sit on half a butt and take out the morning newspaper to remind myself that the world outside this bus is far more gloomier and scarier. I prefer reading the papers without any unnecessary interruptions . My mom says that I am obsessed with the newspapers like the males are - she says they probably wouldn't stop reading the paper even if their hair was on fire. I have barely opened the newspaper and turned to page two when I notice an enormous shadow on the pages which totally freaks me out. I slowly turn to my right with my heart in my throat and realize that the huge shadow on the pages is cast by an even huger nose of my companion. Now I know how the phrase 'poking your nose in other's business' came to be coined. Oh! I know these species accurately. They are the ones who will vehemently refuse to buy the newspaper insisting that such an act is a waste of hard-earned precious money - though it barely costs anything- but will be the first to grab and read it if the buyer is someone else. A two minute-no blink stare goes unnoticed so I revert to my usual course of action i.e. ignore and endure. Well it seems that the kind lady is not satisfied with just sharing the reading space, she still has a lot in store for me. Like, for example, she wants to read the entertainment section while I am still reading the world news. When I point out this fact to her after hearing her insistent commands to turn the page, she glowers at me as if I am  insane to be reading the world news when the glittery entertainment section beckons us and keeps on trying to turn the pages in my  hand. Taking deep breaths and recalling all techniques of meditation or anger management or whatever they are, I take off those pages and thrust them in her hand. Alas, the end is far from near. The obnoxious lady seems to want always exactly those pages which I have with me. Finally the newspaper has becomes such a mess that I can't even recognize it to be the same one I bought in the morning and  so I just stuff them in her hands and get down from the bus, glad that my stop has finally arrived.

Scene 3 :
I am now traveling in the local train and I wont even start to describe what has become of my 'intimate space'. Mind you, these trains in this city are always this much crowded , so you know what to expect before getting into them and hence you have absolutely no rights to complain whatsoever. So while I stand balancing myself on one toe, I receive a call on my cell phone. While I talk, the female beside me seems to have glued her ear to mine to catch up on whatever I am talking. Never mind the fact that she may understand absolutely nothing but then you can't miss a chance on hearing some gossip, can you? Even though it may be regarding someone you have never met in your life, or for that matter would never meet. Now I switch to text mode which seems to have caught the attention of the woman on my other side as she continues reading each and every alphabet which I continue typing. I almost feel like asking her if she wishes me to add anything in the message on her behalf.

Scene 4 :
Cellphones provide amazing ways to intrude into your private bubble and this can happen even if you are nowhere related to the phone in question. Confused? Well , consider the man in the adjoining compartment who appears more to be delivering a public oration than talking on the cell. How am I to explain to him that no one is interested in knowing when he will reach a particular place and why he is late : at least not me. But since I have as much importance as the dust particle on the fan blade I keep my mouth shut. And if the person on the other side of the phone speaks as softly as this gentleman, then I can hear his wonderful replies as well.

Personal space? I wonder if it is an exclusivity reserved only for few. Or is its resource depleting day by day? I am in dire need of some and would be glad if anyone could tell me where I can buy some. Just a little bit, you know, enough to feel that maybe I am an individual being and not a perpetual Siamese twin of some unknown entity.

Scene 5 :
I have been trying to write this stuff sitting in this posh cafe for the past one hour, with a stale coffee on my table , a nosy teenager with a long craning neck at the adjoining table and a deep desire to grab her freshly permed and colored hair and turn her face the other way. *Sigh* If wishes were horses.......

© 2010 Prateeksha Khot

Author's Note

Prateeksha Khot
Ramblings based on some of the things that I , and many others like me, have experienced.

Thank you Therene for the wonderful suggestions and corrections :) Will surely look into them.

My Review

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I love how you have this broke down into scene's makes better reading.
I like all the detail and vivid imagery.
You did an amazing job writing this and it's cute. I liked reading this.
Very well written.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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11 Reviews
Added on May 2, 2010
Last Updated on June 2, 2010
Tags: satire, privacy, bus, newspaper, space, personal, bubble, lady, woman, gentleman, irritate, wring, confused, soft, cellphone, train, crane, message, reply, oration, compartment, intrude, public, interested, amazing


Prateeksha Khot
Prateeksha Khot

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

A happy-go-lucky rebel, i like doing things my way : that is the different way. I am creative and like trying out new stuff : There's hardly anything in which I am not interested. Plus point ? : I HAV.. more..


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