Last weekend I was at a party and due to a misunderstanding I was involved in a bit of a ruckus. Well, okay, to be perfectly honest I sort of started the ruckus because I thought someone was being mean to my friend and I went to defend him. Although my friend is actually bigger than me so I’m not really sure I would have been any real help but there I was. Anyway, things started to escalate and all of a sudden the gentleman, who I’d only met briefly at Bangalore Club, said quite defiantly, “Do you know who I am?” I said something sassy back like, “Of course I don’t, do you know who I am?”
Being good boys and girls at heart, we eventually made up and there was no harm done but the “Do you know who I am” comment really cracked me up and started me thinking about how common that phrase is used all around the world. It plays a vital role on both large and small scales. From world leaders to a ‘regular’ at a family owned restaurant, anyone can be a VIP for one reason or another. Hell, I’ve used the “Do you know who I am” line already once here in Bangalore when a door guy tried to charge me an entrance fee the first time I went to Pebbles 6 months ago. My saucy line didn’t work or improve my situation because – indeed – it was the first time I had been to Pebbles, I wasn’t a regular and – obviously – they had no idea who I am. I paid like a good girl, complained for 2 minutes to my mates, and then I shut up, had a brilliant time and danced the night away.
Here in India, I honestly don’t know who the celebrities are because I haven’t been here for that long. I don’t read the celebrity pages of the paper and I don’t buy women’s magazines. Sure I recognize certain high-ranking corporate tech executives, politicians and activists, the Kolaveri Di guy, that one male actor who’s my age and the one older male actor who is India’s darling from Bollywood who are in every damn advert peddling something or other (it’s impossible not to recognise those two because they are everywhere), and of course certain cricket stars and heroes. But that’s pretty much it.
But, you know? I think that not knowing who people are actually plays to my advantage. Through my network of friends and what I do for a living I have the luck and privilege of meeting some really interesting and wonderful people. Some play sports, others are actors, politicians, India’s top DJs, leading industrialists and powerful entrepreneurs and more. Since I honestly have no idea who they are, when I meet new people who are quite high up on the food chain for whatever reason I’m not nervous around them or intimidated. Nor do I have a history of being in awe of them as I would if perhaps they were American or Spanish…because I tell you I would probably not be so cool in front of Tiger Woods, Javier Bardem or Hilary Clinton. This ensures that I am able to interact with them as I would anyone else and just be myself – even cracking a jokes whenever I can fit them in.
My behaviour is in no way a statement that I wish to disrespect someone…but for me it would just feel completely wrong to treat someone differently, revere them or ‘sir/madam’ them because I know nothing about who they are…so why in the world would I, or should I?
A couple of my funniest memories so far with respect to meeting new people who I don’t know but maybe should are with an actor and a famous-throughout-the-world-of-cricket sports star, and both moments took place here in Bangalore:
- Social situation – I was at Skyye last summer with friends and had left my group for only a moment to visit the restroom. On the way there I stopped so I could type my message a bit easier on my Blackberry. While I was stopped, an Indian guy in his early 30s came up to me and said hello. I looked up from my BB message, checked him out, realised I had no idea who he was. I gave him a quick head-nod and said “hey” as I continued typing away on my BB. Later that night we ended up at the same after party and started talking and since then we’ve been fast friends. Now I smile when I see girls flirting with him and even offering to buy him drinks or see guys coming up and asking to take a photo with him because they love his movies. But that night I just knew him as the guy interrupting me while I was BBM’ing.
- Professional situation – I was at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) offices at M Chinnaswamy Stadium for my first meeting with all of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) team owners and the association president, secretary and CEO. Up until that time, each of my meetings had been with the owner of the KPL team I worked with, the Bijapur Bulls, and the Secretary of the KSCA. There were almost 20 new faces at that meeting so I started making the rounds at the pre-meeting breakfast (at the ungodly hour of 7am) and introducing myself, passing out my business card and shaking hands with everyone one at a time. I was the only woman in a group of 20 that included the owner of one of Bangalore’s two largest property development companies, of a leading mobile retail chain and more. I went up to one gentleman who looked familiar but who I had never met, extended my hand and introduced myself. He said his name and I followed up by asking “so, what do you do” and he replied, “I used to play cricket and now I’m the President of the KSCA.” Ohhhh, crap! I really should have done my homework a bit better because I had just no, I don’t know who you are’d the bowler who won India the most Test matches in history. He was cool about it though and I appreciated it very much.
I hope to not stick my foot in my mouth in my professional life again anytime soon like I did that day at the KSCA. That was pretty damn embarrassing. As time passes in my new life in India, that luxury of not knowing who people are is going to strip away little by little…and eventually I’m sure to be in awe of so many individuals here who are in the limelight and will go coo-coo if I ever do meet them. And that, my friends, does not look as smooth and collected as the normal me right now!
© 2012 Angela Carson