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     Volume 4 Issue 38 | March 18, 2005 |

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Srabonti Narmeen Ali

I once used to have this very strange friend. She was the star-pupil in our beginner's Kathak class and she was just about perfect in everything. All our parents wanted us to be just like her and all of the kids, being the nasty jealous brats that we were, were extremely snide and mean to her. However, I, staying true to my Bangali identity, was always nice to her face and made fun of her behind her back -- it is, after all, the Bangali way, is it not? (Anyone who thinks otherwise is in denial).

This unfortunate friend of mine had a really strange habit. Whenever she would get nervous or came across a confrontational situation she would raise her feet up to her ears and roll around on the floor. Sounds weird, doesn't it? I had a lot of theories behind this. At first I thought she was showing off her flexibility as a dancer. Later I thought she was extremely proud of her feet and wanted to show them off -- again, related to the whole dance thing. Then I figured maybe she was playing the shadhu bit and trying to tell us that she was the "hear no evil" monkey -- with her feet. Still later, I decided that she was just plain crazy, and slightly gross -- being an official feet hater, I cannot understand why someone would voluntarily put her feet anywhere near her face, and then on top of that, roll around on the floor.

She is now a very successful financial analyst in a big bank smack in the middle of Manhattan. She is about four years younger than me and much to her mother's delight and my mother's chagrin is making six figures -- I can just imagine the conversation that the two women had. When my mother told me this news in subdued tones I told her that she should have retorted with the comment that at least her daughter didn't stick her feet on her face. My mother was not amused.

All that being said, I still wonder what made that girl do such an odd thing -- and so openly, too. She was so perfect it was strange to see her have such a weird quirk. But that's the thing about people -- if you observe them long enough and carefully enough, you will find that almost everyone has an idiosyncrasy or two.

There was a girl I knew in college, for example, who used to eat her hair. Disgusting, right? But she thought it was the most normal thing in the world. She used to sit in class and chew on her hair. And she had the nerve to get annoyed when people stared at her. In fact she would do something even more odd, she would point at people with her saliva-ridden hair and ask, "what are you looking at?" Apparently she didn't understand what was so unusual about her actions.

Yet another friend has a habit of covering her entire face with her dupatta. She does so in class, in her outings and apparently she has done it in the middle of her meetings at work. Then she also starts tying the ends of her dupatta together to make a bow-tie affect. Nobody knows what to make of it. Often people have wondered whether it is because she is cold but she claims that no, she is just doing it "emni."

Many people have strange habits which they do not consider out of the ordinary. These people publicly do things and expect others not to react. A cousin of mine screams in public places with no warning whatsoever -- did I mention that he is male and his screams sound extremely feminine? He never gives us a reason for screaming. He just lets it all out and then offers no explanation and walks away laughing -- with a laugh that sounds like a cross between a donkey and hyena. Is it a ploy to get attention, a means to get on all of our nerves -- maybe, but keep in mind, he is nearing thirty!

The thing about people is that we all have certain mannerisms and quirks that differentiate us from other people. In some cases they endear us to others and in others they are just plain annoying and weird. However, what I don't understand is why we do these strange things. Is it because we feel so much pressure from society and those around us to be perfect and have a certain image that once in a while we just need to do something completely wacky in order to break the pressure? Or is it that we all are in some way, slightly insane and we just have to let it out? Whatever it is, although it's strange to be around people when they are acting funny, it's always nice to know that there are crazier people than you around and that everyone is not always completely together.


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