Blogging from Germany: Men and Navis

Three times I’ve been in a car in Mannheim with men with Navis. They’re a formidable combination. Men in Black, but with navigation tools instead of stun guns. We all get in and then the man will say “Ach so, where do you need to go? I’ve got my Navi, so no problem.” Then they lean over, fondly pick up trusted Navi and wait for it to initialize. Then we start. With Srini he was talking about music with Pallavi. Deekshitar, Thyagaraja, a particular singer from Calcutta….Amba and I listened on diligently. Then slowly the conversation slows down to a brief word now and then, interspersed, largely, with sounds of puzzlement. But…Hmmmm….how….

This is the first stage. Then next stage is disbelief. How can Navi be wrong? They initialize again. “It must be something I did wrong” is the mood du jour. Claus, darling that he is, blames himself “I’m so shit at directions.” I am reassuring “I have all the time in the world and this way I get to see different parts of Mannheim.” Then he pulls out maps. When these don’t match Navi’s story, he knows he’s been had. So he stops the car and asks for directions. Then we park and walk. On the way, we ask a sweeper for directions. He tells us that he has lived on this street for 40 years, and has never heard of the place we ask for. Ach so. Navi, you’ve been a naughty girl.

With Friederich, there was the added charm of the temperature, 32°C at 11pm, and streams of sweat pouring down us. Friederich doesn’t have his glasses and can’t see very well at night. The more Navi leads us astray, the more we bray in sheer hysteria till even I know we were near Universtat klinikum and nowhere near Jungbusch.

With women they just shut Navi off, give it to the baby to suck on and trust their instinct. But men are so earnest with technology, so sweet. They evince a certain belief that, if used correctly, precisely, technology has the potential of solving the problems of all our samsaras. Women, they fear, are too emotionally strung out to truly be good with technology anyway. What could they possibly know about life and death, leave alone directions.

That’s why I love ‘em. Men, that is.

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