Despite sharing an office space for over five years, Vijay Anand and I never hung out. We shared books and, hilariously, fought and blatantly ignored each other, but never actually took the time to get to know each other. And it’s mostly my fault.
Now that I am in Canada, thousands of miles away from the place I call home, India, we can’t stop talking. Whether it’s bonding over stories of heartbreaks, bullying or him trying to convince me that Kindle is much better than a print edition of a book, I have come to realize that some goodbyes in life are often the start of surprising new friendships.
PS: He also lets me use his Netflix account for free.
Q1. You are afraid of…
Oh, so many things. I have a whole laundry list of fears. At the risk of alienating a lot of my acquaintances, I’m afraid of being surrounded by so many idiots that it becomes the new standard for intelligence. Paradoxically, I’m also afraid I’ll become so much of a misanthrope, I’ll end up alone (if I live long enough to make to old age [I think I won’t]).
On a more material level, I’m terrified of heights, and snakes. And angry chickens. I’m afraid of getting my heart broken for the millionth time. Not just in love, but just broken.
Q2. What do you think people see when they look at you?
Oh there’s no doubt people see a charming rogue, ha ha. In all seriousness, I think what people see is what I let them see. It all boils down to what impression they make when I first meet people. For me, first impressions fall into three broad categories:
a) They make a good first impression
b) They make a terrible first impression
c) They make a brilliant first impression
If it’s (a), then what the other person might see is someone who is affable, congenial and easy to get along with. I’ll tolerate whatever flaws they may have, which might aid in their forming a favorable opinion of me.
If it’s (c), then I pull out all stops to impress them in turn. So in such cases, they will likely see someone who’s eager to please, which can get either creepy or tiresome after a time. Needless to say, very few people who impress me like me back.
In the case of (b), they are likely to run into an uncompromising, prickly jerk who’s brimming with hostility and sarcasm. Someone who’s arrogant, unfriendly and unhelpful.
And in the case of those who haven’t met me yet but do happen to see/observe me, I might seem arrogant, and standoffish.
Q3. Your first heartbreak and how it changed you?
My first of several heartbreaks happened in 2003, and it changed me in the sense that it directly paved the way for me to become the person I am today, for better or for worse. Prior to the “heartbreak”, I was this shy, unassuming, wallflower of a person. Because of my shrinking-violet of a personality, I did not handle the rejection well. In fact, I sprinted in the opposite direction of handling it well. After months of wallowing in self-pity, I finally shook myself out of my sorry stupor, and an unlikely hero came to my rescue.
Yes, that’s right. I took comfort in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, the novel. For some reason, I always identified with Ian Fleming’s anti-hero (except for the 1950’s brand of sexism). And just so I’m clear, I’m not talking about the cinematic version of the character, but the literary.
Anyway, long story short, I soon evolved into a more confident person with thick armor to protect himself from any further pain. While I’m not as extremely protective of myself now as I was then, I still carry a measure of that fear of getting my heart broken, which might make me seem standoffish or aloof. Thanks to my first heartbreak, I’m now a stronger, infinitely more confident person.
Q4. A question that you were most haunted by growing up?
Let me first establish context. I’m a South Indian, and it’s a popular (and mostly incorrect) perception that South Indians are largely dark-skinned. Which was why, I was plagued by questions from my classmates in school, like “How are you so fair skinned? What skin products do you use?” And so on and so forth. Mind you, these were all 10-12-year-olds, so you can’t expect any depth here. But yes, that was one question that annoyed me to no end.
Q5. Favourite memory of 2016?
Let’s say “memories”, shall we? There have been a few if I’m to be honest — making new friends, getting a new job, moving to a new city and trying to build a whole new life from scratch. For the above reasons, 2016 will be a special year, indeed.
Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.