What if I started talking about Anu Aggarwal? You'd switch tabs to check other news, right? No news about her is breaking news. She came, gave a hit, did a couple of crappy films and vanished. She might be hooked or single, working or not for all you care.
When she did the disappearing act in the 90s, I presumed (just like most of you Bollywood buffs, I'm sure) that there were no takers for her kind of acting prowess, or the lack of it. All of us added her name to a list of one-movie wonders. And then Ctrl+Alt+Del.
The real story? You can read all about it here or just check out the abbreviated version: A girl tastes sudden fame, a la Britney Spears. She's basking in the limelight, living in the fast lane. And then one day there's a crash, a brutal accident that sends her into a coma for a month. A frivolous party girl entered the white Mercedes that fateful day but the person who emerged from the wreckage was a mellowed, mature woman who today teaches yoga around the world, including to slum children in Mumbai.
And why am I blabbering about Ms Aggarwal today? Because the recent launch of her book triggered some nodes in my brain. It made me think about our convenient attitude of jumping to reckless conclusions. You and I, we are all judgemental souls. We don't spare anyone. We don't wait for explanations. We don't give second chances.
You think you're an exception?
Try this little test. What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you read these three scenarios?
You are on a bus. A boy is talking, a girl's smiling. They are merrily chitchatting, oblivious to the world around.
You've made a new friend, but he/she doesn't seem to be answering your messages or returning your calls as regularly as before.
An old acquaintance just broke up. She's had three boyfriends in five years.
Wait a minute. Do your own analysis of these situations before reading further. No cheating!
If you've been true to your natural instincts, there's a strong likelihood that this is what you would have derived -- Case A: The boy and girl are doing "it" or are at least planning to get it on; Case B: The new friend is either ignoring you, or worse, is acting pricey; Case C: The girl is a slut.
What could very much be possible is this. The girl and boy are buddies, in a healthy friendship. The new friend is super-busy or maybe going through a rough patch. The old acquaintance has a knack of falling for the wrong guy or has just had bad luck in finding the right partner.
But given how analytically blessed we think we are, we tend to believe we've got it all figured out.
We have a back-story and character sketch for everyone.
Fat? Must be overeating.
Thin? Gotta be anorexic!
Skimpily clad? Ooooo, chhammak chhallo.
Fully clothed? What a behenji!
Shy? So arrogant!
Friendly? How desperate!
We have a label for everything. And it's all ok, until one day you realise that somebody's been making cool tags for you too! Now what? Simple, breathe and let breathe. Let's try to memorise this. No it's not ok to be over-critical. No jumping to conclusions doesn't mean you have excellent assessment skills. And here's the truth: everyone has a story.
So, stop in your tracks. If you're overly judgemental, it's time to play "statue". Remember that kiddie game? Freeze, think, look around. Have you got company or are you walking all alone?