Thursday, December 17, 2009


It was a close encounter of the weird kind. At first he cringed when I asked if his drunken clientele brawled frequently. Then he groaned when I enquired if Mutton Kebab was served at his place. Finally, when I pried into the quantum of tip he cleaned up each day, he let out a growl that grew into a bark and stomped off. It was as if I had blasphemed which, as it turned out, I did. For, he was a temple priest in civvies whom I had taken for a bartender!

I was, in fact, having one of my habitual bouts of 'Faceagnosia' - a congenital inability to recognise faces - which manifested in two forms:
a) Mis-faceagnosia : Wrong recognition.
b) Non-faceagnosia : No recognition.
While the former often landed me in a mess, the latter branded me as a pompous ass. It is not uncommon to see an acquaintance of mine raise his hand to greet me and, having seen no glint of recognition in my eyes, change tack to pick his nose to save his face.

The non-recognition syndrome has another downside to it. My truant debtors, for instance, brazenly walk past me secure in the knowledge that my 'radar' can't pick them up.And my 'dial-blindness' comes in handy to a local scrap collector who has been buying old newspapers from me on credit, each time assuming a new identity without ever paying up.

But it is the miasma of misrecognition that is hanging over me like a sword of Damocles. What if I ask, say, a police inspector in civilian clothes if he acquired his 'third degree' assuming that he is one of my son's professor? I shudder to think of the consequences.

The other day at a party, an unknown quantity 'hi-howdied' me gushingly.Even as I struggled to place him, he complimented me on taking the 'Voluntary Retirement Scheme'. "Phew, that bank job of yours. Good riddance." he affirmed. I scowled at him. For, he had taken me for a retired bank employee, whereas yours truly is a member of the healing profession! I had met my match Poetic justice, did you say?

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