Theory at ISI. Practicals at Palika Bazar. Eve of Deepawali. Heaven of Bargainers and quick deals. Abhishek and myself were also their for a quick bounce. Yes, we were checking out if we could practice acceptance in real life, say that we stammer and introduce ourselves with bouncing technique. All that we had to do was just say one line: I am s-s-s-sachin. All that the listener had to do was to listen and carry on. That’s all. The whole interaction could take just about two minutes. The exercise went very well and in the bargain we discovered many shades of life. Of course we had our fair share of difficulties in the beginning.
Two elderly Indian men- smiled and said: You dont stammer; you are just acting, trying to fool us. They grabbed the brochure and hurriedly moved away- as if we were about to mug them. Another young men- as I opened my mouth to say “can I take just one minute to..”- lowered his eyes and mumbled, sorry, sorry and moved on. Another person, reacted as if he had seen a ghost! Yet another group of three caucasian (white) western male tourist, made a sudden U-turn as if they had seen escaped convicts from Tihar! Wow- I never knew stammering can be so powerful! Okay, so after about ten minutes, we felt a little down and wanted to go back. Then, we had a change of luck!
A well dressed girl gave Abhishek undivided attention, while he told his name. As he finished, she smiled and said: Yes, you can do it! We genuinely thanked her and moved to our next client: A black couple. They listened to us patiently and then took couple of steps away, talked among themselves briefly and approached us again. This time, with a hundred dollar note in hand! Abhishek and I, looked at each other, smiled and thanked them (with no stammering this time): We just needed your time- which you have already given so graciously. Thank you!
While returning, we discussed among ourselves and tried to make sense of the encounters: People are different. We too are changing from moment to moment. We certainly were not the same guys, who gingerly started the exercise half an hour ago. There may or may not be a cure for stammering but what does it matter, if we can get over OUR emotional reactions to people’s reactions to our dis-fluency or whatever may be “our act” or our “difference”..
On a different note: this is an example of a well respected component of MODERN stammering therapy- called “Transfer” (transferring a speech skill, like bouncing, eye-contact, voluntary stuttering- to the outside real world) and “desensitization” (to listener reactions). Any one can try it, in company of a good friend. Bravo Abhishek!
Long live Self-help!