Saturday, April 16, 2016

Diving out of my comfort zone....

A few days ago, we were at a wedding in New Jersey. As the Reception event, held at a fancy Golf Club, was winding down, a murmur for an "after- party" started. An enterprising friend of ours got busy on his i-phone and started looking for restaurants that would be open at 1 am.
"There's just one place open, a few miles from here," he said.
There was a chorus of assent all around.
"So what kind of restaurant is it?" somebody asked.
"It's a Dive Bar," our enterprising friend answered casually.
Most people around were just thrilled to hear the word "Bar". But I got a little nervous, because I knew what a Dive Bar is. I had never been to one, but I knew it would be a far cry from the Golf Club that we were sitting in.
My token dissent was firmly over ruled by all. And so 5 couples headed out in 3 vehicles. As we pulled further away from the manicured landscape of the Golf Club, and closer to our destination, the road became rough, and the sidewalks were unkempt.
"Here it is," my friend said, who was riding shotgun with me, pointing to a very unimpressive, shack like structure on the side of the road.
He barged straight on inside, and the rest of us, men in suits and ladies decked up in brilliant colored Indian outfits, followed hesitantly. The Dive Bar was approximately 50 square feet in size. There were about twenty five people already inside, spread around a bar that looked like something out of an an old western movie. The patrons gave us curious looks, as we ordered our drinks. We eyed them back nervously, taking in the numerous tattoos and sleeveless leather vests. The only comfortable person among us was our friend who had led the way. He seemed to be having a great time.
"The problem is not them, Arvin," he said to me, sensing my nervousness. "It's us and our preconceived perceptions. Relax and have a drink."

And he was so right. We are so used to being in a cocoon, that we rarely step out of our comfort zone. At most social events, the tone, tenor and more often than not, even the content of the conversation is repetitive and predictable. Everybody's role is well defined and the attention seeking egos are fed a healthy dose of  "You are soo special!" Generally, I am a part of that social scene. So it was refreshing to step out of that cocoon and  experience something different. And as we became comfortable in that Dive Bar, we relaxed and actually had a good time.

I am not advocating that everyone should head out to a Dive Bar. But I think it is good, once in a while,  to step out of a familiar, protective environment and experience a different face of life. Not everyone who does not look like you is bad, and not everyone who looks like you is good. Preconceived perceptions and ideas are dangerous in an open society.

"Everybody has their own story to tell. Your life is like a book that you don't ever get to put down. So make it interesting." ~ Author unknown