As a teenager, I always wanted to be a psychologist and I had wanted to study psychology while in college as well. But this plan came to an abrupt halt when I found out that the only college in Nepal that offers this course would need me to wear a dhoti as uniform. This instantly made me change my mind.
I had developed a fascination for this discipline because I grew up in a ‘big mass’ in Bal Mandir. And this huge mass of people around me never left me, even in my later life. My first job was in a five star hotel; when I joined The Everest Hotel in 1996, there were more than 700 people.
Having grown up amidst a huge crowd and working with an even bigger number of people deeply impacted my mind. I read people. And by that I mean I read their body language more than the words they spoke.
Body language includes gestures and postures, expressions, twitches, color of clothes, makeup and even the fragrance used by a person. It may sound a bit exaggerated to some, but my subconscious mind has been trained to read body languages because of my growing up years. Therefore, I scan a person in all of three seconds to get the information I want. Sometimes, what a person is speaking is completely opposite to what his body language conveys.
My time in Bal Mandir made me witness to a lot raw and crude language, both in terms of spoken and body language. In contrast, my work stint at the hotel needed me to deal with more sophisticated and educated people. They knew how to hide or tackle their emotions when needed.
My deep interest in body language and what I can read through it came into focus again in a recent incident. I posted a picture of Kali and Mahadev on my Facebook page with a joking statement and it invited lots of comments from the Nepali community from around the world. My joke did not go down kindly with a lot of people, while some hailed me for my audacity to joke about a God.
However, my defence was that it is a joke that can make sense only if you study the picture in a certain context. In this picture, Mahadev is lying on his back and Kali is stepping on him. But, that is not all that I see. Look carefully, isn’t Kali’s pulled out tongue more a language of embarrassment than that of a sense of pride and victory?
The position of her tongue nags me each time I see this picture. I can’t help but wonder, is this the artist’s interpretation of the situation? Why has Kali been depicted that way in the picture? Why she is wearing such accessories and holding a blood stained weapon? When she is so courageous, why does she have to wear a garland made of human skulls? Was she accessorized intentionally to diminish the true feeling on her face?
When she can bring down Mahadev and stand on top of him, then why does her face lack the confidence and sense of pride in the picture? Why does she have, what I feel is, an embarrassed expression? This is an unusual body language by someone as bold as Kali. What really bothers me is since Hindu religion worships both sexes equally, why am I seeing only a battle of sexes here in this picture?
However, what cannot be ignored is this picture says a lot about, not just the power of women, but also men’s psyche. How can he make you feel awkward, even when he is under your feet, and you have defeated him? It is up to you to get the message. A lot of things remain unsaid but a picture speaks a thousand words and if you can read body languages, you can certainly see beyond what meets the eye.
Do you really have to be psychologist to read body language anyway