Goodness Me!

Out of all the planets in all the galaxies, I was chosen to explore Earth! After awaiting many centuries to receive my personal exploration grant, I would have accepted nearly anything. Oh, how I regret agreeing to my allotment now. Humans have got to be one of the most paradoxical and arcane creatures in this entire universe! The more time I spend studying them, the further I get from formulating any global behavioural laws about them. Apart from mundane biological truths, some of which they have already discovered themselves, I cannot seem to settle on anything definitive. Let me give you an example: Their personalities are as diverse as their DNA! For every extroverted kind, there are innumerable idiosyncratic variations of the same. I’m starting to think they are all purposely conniving against me, to thwart my mission and to discourage any extra-terrestrial involvement. Today is day 95,391 of my stay here, and let me tell you about some of my experiences here. Although smiling is the best weapon of penetration into people’s inner circles, you had to know that when used incorrectly, it would be read as unabashed impertinence, the likes of which could land you a slap or worse, sustained mistrust. The same applied to laughter…as I found out to my detriment. Not only did the exact same action mean something entirely different in two separate countries, but it aroused different reactions in the same country too! For e.g. you would peck someone on the cheek in the Middle East as a greeting, but the same could land you in jail in Japan. And you could not use it in certain situations like a funeral, or an execution. Humans have this terribly annoying habit of trying their best to fit in while still also trying to stand out. This was not all, with the passage of time, you would expect them to learn from their mistakes, but they only seemed to want to branch out new ones. Dangerously creative, they are. It would take me at least 5 years in every country to learn the patterns of behaviour, and not stick out like a sore thumb. After 80 long years, I gave up trying in India, where the cultural diversity will make your head spin. There, every few 50 kilometres they would insist upon upending the social norm and creating an ambiguous, new one. There was no pattern, no strategy I could refer to. No wonder multinational ties were so weak. Humans themselves could not cope with their own complexities. Oh, the irony! So, for whomever may have the misfortune of visiting here, I have only one piece of advice: DON’T! 

Allen J Mathew