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Face Blindness

It’s time I faced my ‘I cannot recognize this face’ problem. Either I have some really lazy neurons that refuse to identify faces or terribly sadistic ones that get pleasure from my embarrassment. When I see people I should most definitely know, I get several confusing and conflicting signals from my brain. Over the years I have learnt to deal with it by looking arrogant or busy or just plain dumb. And now I am going to add to the embarrassment by writing this blog…

Scene 1

I am at a shop and I see someone from my first company. I am trying hard to recollect his name. In all such cases my dear husband is my savior. He will forget everything to do with me, but he always remembers other people’s faces. And since he thankfully worked with me in my first company, I ask him to identify this gentleman. He says he doesn’t recollect. I was terribly disappointed in him.

How is it that I remember a face and he doesn’t? I must be getting better.
Should I say Hi? But I don’t remember his name.
Chuck it. I have left my previous company more than a decade back and I am not liable to recognize people from that long back.

The next day as soon as I enter office, I see him there….sitting and working.

Wow. He works with you at your current workplace, you dimwit.

I think he goes and complains to my boss as I was told that I am very arrogant and don’t acknowledge people. I don’t blame him. I am in Human Resources and the least expected of me is to identify them.

Learning 1
When in doubt, smile and share pleasantries. Talk about the weather. You don’t need context for that.

Scene 2

I am at a shopping mall with my husband and there is someone walking towards us smiling at me. I have learnt my first lesson and so I am smiling back at him while frantically trying to reach out to my memory.

He is from your current workplace.
Very good. Which team?
Can’t remember.
I think from the Trade department.
Maybe. Should be.
Uff. He is so familiar. That’s why he is smiling so much at me.

And then when he comes face to face, I suddenly see my beloved husband waving at him and saying something. And that’s when I realized

He is your freaking driver.
How could you not recognize him? He just dropped you in the car to the mall.

In my defense, he is a new driver and has been with us only for a week.

Learning 2
Even when not in doubt, ask husband.

Scene 3

I am with a woman in the ladies washroom at office. I know that I know her well but I somehow just can’t place her. . I see her and probably talk to her daily. But suddenly my brain has taken a short recess.

Forget it.
You are smart you can make some generic conversation.
Since we have recently moved to our new office it is always okay to ask people where they sit.
Go ahead and ask her that.

When I ask her where she sits, she is stumped. She gives me a ‘Are you on drugs’ look and says ‘Reception’.

Yes Yes Yes you are the receptionist.
Now let me hide under this thick coat of awkwardness.     

Learning 3
Stick to questions like how are you.

Scene 4

I have come back early morning from some errands. I see my car cleaner and I have a bone to pick with him as he usually skips cleaning the car from inside. So I go straight to him and say “Aap car andar se saaf karo. Abhi” (Clean the car from inside, Right Now). He says he doesn’t have time. I roll my eyes and tell him he has to do it. He says he has to go home early. I start to yell at him and lecture him on his responsibilities. After a few well targeted verbal darts, the very shocked man tells me ‘Main aapka gaadi saaf karne wala nahi hoon’. (I am not your car cleaner)

Oh no. Why is he looking exactly like him?
He doesn’t.

Learning 4
Never scream at people unless they identify themselves

Scene 5

So I see our ex-pantry boy at the lift area. He was a great steward who quit a year back. So I ask him “Arre aaj yahan kaise”. (What brought you here today?) He gives me a dumbfounded look and then silently walks with me inside the office and goes into the pantry to work.

Oh damn. He is not the ex pantry boy. He is the current guy.
He serves me tea twice a day. What’s wrong with me?

Learning 5
Don’t talk to people

But hold on. If you guys are busy laughing at me, please note that Face Blindness is a real thing and more than 2.5% of the population suffer from it. Don’t believe me, read this…

Scene 6

I step out of a restaurant and see this gentleman who looks very very familiar. I implement all my learnings. I give him a broad smile. He in turn comes and talks to me for a bit and then leaves. I turn to my husband to ask him what the name of the gentleman is. And I see my man talking to this gentleman’s twin brother. And then the flickering bulb lit… Oh, That’s the guy I know. And the twin brother has simply mastered the art of confidently talking to people who smile at him even though he has no clue about them. He is my soul mate. I go say Hi to the real Ram, while all the time admiring the Shyam who so effortlessly camouflaged his face blindness.

Learning 6
There are so many like me walking this earth. I am not the only ‘Alice in Wonderland’

My only prayer to God is never ever put me in a witness box where I have to identify the culprit from a line of offenders. I might very confidently pick someone from the Trade department.

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