“I am sorry…I…I….sorry,” she stammered as she scrounged around in her sack of a handbag, digging around to find whatever it was she was going to present to me. One by one she started to take things out of her bag, a pen, two pen, few pencils, a really old motorola phone – I didnt even think these kinds existed anymore – a small opaque plastic bag, which I didnt have to peek inside to know the contents of. The wafting foul smell of beetle nut and lime told me it was doma*, a Bhutanese favorite snack. She paused when she put it out onto my desk, and looked at me for a second like she was going to offer me some, but decided against it to continue her search through the abyss of her magical bag – it was amazing how many things fit in it.
“Ahh….here it is,” she exclaimed and handed me a tiny tiny USB drive. “Can you please open it on your computer?” she mumbled. Some consultant I thought to myself. It was one thing to ask for a favor and help her with her work, it was an entirely different thing to actually carry out the work for her.
“You see, I am running out of time, I am running out of time,” she repeated. Her relatively young round eyes filled with anxiety. “Right,” I nodded back and inserted the USB into my sleek laptop’s USB port. Her mangled key chain of what appeared to be an extremely dirty teddy bear hanging off the USB in stark contrast to the shiny silver of my macbook pro. The file opened to my utter horror of chaotic pdf files, excel sheets, word documents, movies, books, jpegs, neither in order nor appropriately named. My OCD kicked into high gear and if I knew her better than just being introduced through a mutual friend some one hour back, I would have offered to organize her files on the USB. As she looked through her files to look for whatever it was that she was going to show me and ask for my help, I noticed all her paraphernalia still scattered across my desk. Her slightly large tego** sleeves skimming over my desk zen garden. I inhaled a sharp breath of air in panic worrying her lovely purple sleeves would leave an uninvited line across the sand perfectly styled in symmetric curlicues.
“Umm….,” she mumbled and rested her face on her hands and her elbows uncomfortably close to me. “Here,” I said and got out of my chair allowing her to move closer to my laptop so she could look at the screen better, but also for myself because the smell of unsolicited beetle nut and her chaotic hair and slightly running mascara was irritating me, but also garnering some deep level of sympathy because she was everything I tried not to be. I felt guilty I was judging her in that moment. She paused and looked up like she remembered something, picked up her bag and starting digging through it again. She pulled out a notebook, a compact – which has obviously not touched her skin in the least bit today- and then some breath mints. “Here, have some,” she said and offered the mints to me. “Umm, no thanks,” I said and asked if she found the file. “I think its not here,” she said and smiled at me. “Anyway, I will go home and find it and will come back when I have it, if its okay with you,” she half asked and half declared rhetorically. “Okay….?” I responded quizzed by the coolness and ease and chaos with which this woman went about.
She moved across my desk, swiped her entire arm across my desk and literally chucked all her things back into her gunny sack of a hangbag. I handed her the USB, as she got up. “Thank you,” she said. “I really dont have time and now I wasted the last hour getting nothing done,” she said laughing. “Okay, will come back soon, thank you for your help,” she said and walked out of my office. I plonked myself down on my chair, energy drained by that whirlwind of a personality. The speed and chaos with which our interaction ensued confusing the hell out of me.
I never heard back from this woman.
doma* – In Bhutan the areca nut is called doma. The raw areca nut, which is soft and moist is very potent and when chewed can cause palpitation and vasoconstricting. This form is eaten in the lower regions of Bhutan and in North Bengal, where the nut is cut into half and put into a local paan leaf with a generous amount of lime.The fermented doma has a putrid odour, which can be smelled from miles.
tego** – Toego or Tego is a long-sleeved, short jacket-like garment worn over their traditional kira by women in Bhutan.