Let me tell you about Frieda. She's my dad's cousin's wife. (And no, her second name is NOT Pinto, who I think is grossly overrated). She has a superpower. And I don't think she knows it. Here it is: She listens when people talk to her. I don't mean just listens, like most people do- making sure there's nothing covering their ears. No, I mean really, truly, interestedly listens.

This is one of the things that annoys me the most in life right next to Ugg boots and fast food. Non-listeners. They're a dime-a-dozen. They're almost every person you meet, whether it's an old friend after a long time, or a new acquaintance, relatives or even immediate family. WHY DON'T PEOPLE LISTEN?

Now I'm obviously a good listener or else I wouldn't be writing this. I try very hard to be a Super Listener. I love listening. But I'm human too and sometimes I want to share. And I find very, very few people who listen, leave alone who are 'good' listeners. 

For instance I met this friend after many years and wanted to catch up with what was going on in her life. So I listened to her talk endlessly about her studies, her job, her life in general. Then there was an awkward pause where she ran out of things to say. However it never occurred to her that she could ask the same things about me! I'm not one to share without being asked so I left it at that.

Another time I went to meet a group of friends over dinner. There were a few new faces and I listened as one girl shared about her cruel ma-in-law, others spoke about their work, the place they had been and so on. But not a single one of them asked me 'How are you doing' or 'Hey, how's life?'! Rude? Mucho. Needless to say I won't go when they invite me again.

That's why I'm plain astonished when I meet a good listener. I want to catch them by their shoulders and say "You're listening! You are really listening to me! I can't believe it!" I want to recognize their efforts, I want to give them a trophy on stage in front of an audience of non-listeners and say "These are the people who will be LOVED and will be popular. NOT you, suckers!"

And that's true. It's not the silly (air quotes) Gift of the Gab people who will get ahead in life, it's the listeners. Because in the end life is about who you love and who love you back. And believe me, if you listen, you will seriously be loved back. People will always greet you with a huge smile that comes from the goodness of their heart. Because listening shows you care, you're interested in my life and my stories, no matter how boring/mundane/silly/pathetic they are.

That's why Frieda amazes me with her listening skills. Before I thought she's a good listener because of her job. But then I got a pleasantly shocking surprise when I met her sister Sharmila at a party. She too was a brilliant listener. And they are 4 sisters altogether. I'm sure the other 2 are also listeners.  I just want to know what gems of wisdom did their mother teach them while growing up that they're such good listeners now? And could we publish those gems into a book so that listening becomes a subject that all children are compulsorily made to study throughout school?

I don't mean to be preachy, but... oh, what the hell, I do. LISTEN when someone talks to you. Really listen.You don't need 'good listening' tips like "make eye contact, nod your head at appropriate times, say 'I see', 'uh-huh' occasionally, mirror the other person's body gestures." Bullshit. If you're genuinely interested in what the other person is saying, all these things will happen naturally.
So LISTEN. This world would be a better place if all of us did.
Shabana Feroze


  1. A very interesting blog u have got and a very good topic....and quite a catchy heading certainly made me wanna read it..... :)
    listen is truly quite can certainly make and break a relationship as u had mentioned in your blog about the dinner invite..
    and its definitely good that you have yourself a listner....cause no matter what..there is a time when even a listener wants to be heard.. :)
    well done on your blog! :D

  2. Hey Shabana
    You are an excellent writer. How thoughtful,we fit into your blog.I really enjoyed reading your experiences & agreed with all you had to say.
    Furthermore, your sketches are so professional.
    An artist & a writer!! you'll do well creating your own novel someday. Keep up the good job, babe. Cheers, Sharmila.


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