It is NOT funny...

November 2, 2006


What happens to me when I know there are experts around?

When I was at my friends’ farmhouse, I unerringly spotted all the birds that I knew (and impressed my friends a great deal, a very pleasant side-effect)…well, all except that Red-Necked Falcon which had three experienced birders in discussion. And when I go to Lalbagh, even by myself, I have no hesitation at all.

But let me just realize that there is a senior birder around, and I lose my touch. What if I am identifying some bird wrongly? My tongue gets tied, my tonsils swell, the bird-name remains unspoken on my lips…and there is a huge question mark over my head. When the senior birders thought they saw an owl in the gloaming in Bannerghatta National Park, my eyes told me it was a part of a tree, but I knew I must be mistaken and they must be right…and I strained to see the owl in the dusk until the other birders realized, too, that it was a bit of a branch.

Believe me, this happens to me even with fields in which I know I am knowledgeable…Carnatic Music, for instance…I know perfectly well it is Raga “A”…and can explain lucidly to a friend sitting next to me…but let a knowledgeable music fan sit next to me, and the simplest of ragas and thalas will have me wondering if I have got it right or not! I am an expert…but I cease to be one in the presence of another one.

Self-confidence…not enough of it, I guess, and the humbling knowledge that my  “knowledge” can be wrong….I guess I will never be the confident.ringing-tone authority on anything, that I would like to be!