After a long day of doing mostly nothing, I trotted out of office to go meet an artist in a gallery not so far away from work. Actually, just down the road. I wasn't terribly excited about the assignment, it was one of those last minute things that happen and art is not something I'm majorly into, unless it's either a) someone famous, b) photography or even c) installation. Other stuff I like, I admire, but I'd rather not do the story.
The guy I had spoken to on the phone sounded all bubbly and excited when I called him though. "Oh you're coming? Oh, marvellous!" And when I got there, this tall firang guy greeted me, again excitedly, saying, "eM? It's so nice to meet you!"
There were a couple of other people in the gallery as well, two girls and a guy, all huddled over a laptop. I had noticed them in my initial room scan, but I didn't really pay much attention to them. Firnang Guy and I walked around the gallery, looking at stuff, me asking questions, him answering them. Doing an interview is really pretty easy once you know the basics. The journalism Old School teaches the five w's and h (who, what, where, which, why and how), but I prefer to start off with a few easy questions, talk a bit about their past, do follow up questions and then move on to what next. The key is to get good quotes. With that your story is made in the shade and you can do all your little artistic touches in the middle. And you make friends with them, which is super important, because then they keep talking and talking and telling you more and more stuff. I'm getting pretty good at making friends with my interviewees, so much so that now, no matter who I'm interviewing I wind up staying an hour or more at least. Sometimes with big talkers, close to three hours, by which time my hand is exhausted from writing so much and I'm wondering how I can condense 15 pages of notes into 500 words.
Anyway, interview over, Firang Guy promised to burn some pictures for me off his laptop and I waited. The other dude, who I noticed had a very neatly trimmed french beard started looking at the pictures Firang Guy was loading. He had a nice voice, Mr. French Beard, very soft spoken, yet deep and with an interesting accent that I couldn't place. "Do you know X at your paper?" he asked me, and I shook my head, "Well, I've seen his byline but I don't know who he is." "We were in the same batch," he told me then, with the same measured smile he had given me earlier.
"Are you an artist too?" I asked, still debating on whether I thought he was attractive or not. His voice was already causing pelvic pinwheels, and little sparks were shooting out of my fingertips. "The yellow one over there, on the right," he said and I went and looked. He had used a flame colour, one of my absolute favourites, but more than that, I squinted at the name on the bottom right side, because we hadn't been introduced. Right, so now Mr. French Beard could be Googled at will.
I returned and Firang Guy goes, "This guy's a writer too." "Oh, yeah?" I said, inwardly going, woo-hoo! "What do you write?" He sorta blushed and waved Firang Guy away, "I don't really think you could call us writers."
"He raps," said Firang Guy and I smiled, "That's pretty cool."
Oh, and then he smiled at me and my stomach collapsed and appeared at my toes somewhere. He had this glorious slow smile, that began at the corners of his lips and spread widely and generously across his face. One of the few people in the world that can smile like that with their lips closed.
I'm probably never going to see this guy again, but still I dwell on our fifteen minute conversation. He made me feel... warm. Not lust filled, not attraction, okay, perhaps attraction, but of a different kind. Like being in school. I can't think beyond hand-holding, waist arming. It's been so long since I felt like this, this puppy dog, carnation, helium balloon, candy floss kind of feeling, that it's hard to shake. I want to put smileys on everything, I even walked out of the gallery smiling to myself.
And for that, I'll always be grateful to the stranger in the art gallery. Hallelujah, I can still feel!