I got into a cab, said Hello, and the general small talk ensued between the driver and me. As we passed one of the fancier blocks of the neighbourhood, all with the lavish restaurants and cafés, he said how everything is corrupted now, that a logo was no indication of quality, that none of these neon-lit signs holds its ground. I understood where he came from, but I asked which of those places he had tried—out of curiosity. He narrated his experience, of the bland food, of the overcharging, of the terrible service, of all the fluff of modernity plaguing our towns.
I had never been to the restaurant in question. And I did not believe in having a strong opinion about something I had not experienced, either directly or through proxy. So, I told him what I thought. I told him how I thought food was at first sustenance, but it was a somewhat subjective experience beyond the basics. Even beyond food, good to him and good to me would be two different experiences. He never told me what he thought of this, but we did not talk for the rest of the ride until the very tail-end; it was a silent disagreement.
It was the oldest sin—to think our experience was the same as anyone else’s. It was the basic tenet of life. As much as we saw the same apple, we could never quite agree on it being the same red. We had our words, of course. Good, delicious, calming, relaxing, joyful, saddening, boring, love and whatnot. These were only labels. The experience could not match the words; they all fell short at all times. The words I write could not tell you how something feels. I could try to give you an accurate picture, but a writer either settled for plain descriptions or verbose exaggeration. There was rarely an in-between.
All we had with us were our words, and words fell flat. When all words were said and done, most lives were a great case of rapid, unending, unforgiving miscommunication. Humour me: what did you see before someone told you the complex, elongated tapestry of brown and green was indeed called a tree?