How to Talk Intelligent

This is a step by step  guide to make each one of you to start talking intelligent – especially when meeting new people in social settings.

This is something I learnt by experience – just a few days back, and I am being magnanimous enough to let you in on the secret.

Hush hush.. you can thank me later.. Pay attention now!

Step Minus 1. Dress Intelligent first.

Women : wear thick kajal & no more make-up; chunky non-girly tribal-ish silver earrings; hair unruly but in a shapely adorable way.

Men : either be clean shaved or sport an effortless not-a-beard-yet-not-a-stubble sculpted something; wear frame-thicker-than-lens glasses; hair that has not met a comb for weeks.

Both genders : Hang a DSLR around your neck, if you can afford it. A sexy-sleek point-and-shoot around your wrist, if not. In the worst case, remember to fully charge your phone’s battery and keep the phone on camera mode through-out.

Step Zero. Act intelligent next.

Look around. There will be loads of normal day to day things going on – like a bunch of people trying to cross the road, a shop-keeper pouring some dirty water on the road right in front of his shop, etc. Watch them keenly.

Look for more mundane stuff. For instance, festive strings of serial light. Take that camera & click. The whole sequence of “taking camera, pointing it at target, clicking” should be in one smooth flourish of an action. You need not bother about composing the picture, adjusting settings or focusing – just click. The more hopeless the light conditions, the better. Do not waste looking at the camera’s screen before or after clicking – even for a moment.

Step 1. Meet new people intelligently.

Introduce yourself, shake hands, smile for exactly 1 second, and look at the sky for the next 2 minutes. The other person should wonder whether he/she is expected to shut up and let you concentrate on looking out for the vellai kaakkaa (white crow) flying in the sky, or to strike up a  conversation.

If they do talk, imagine you are Dilip Kumar acting in a Maniratnam movie and reply ever so softly in spite of being on a chaotic road. You may want to practice the art of making human-conversation-like noises without moving your lips much in front of your bathroom mirror before stepping out. They should “Beg your pardon” two times, feel embarrassed to ask you to repeat any more, and resort to pretending that they heard you. Smile for 1 second, nod, and go back to the elusive vellai kaakkaa.

Step 2. What do you do?

That is what you are supposed to ask first and be asked first. And the response should be something that shows that you are the “creative types”.

If you can’t sound convincingly “creative” enough.. let us say, you are just a boring researcher.. you better go invest in a big bulky camera to hang around your neck – to save face.  A big camera is proof enough of one’s “creativity”. Just the presence of the camera – not even the kind of use it is put to.

Step 3. “When I was in Paris..”

This is essential. Do not wait for a context or reason to casually mention that you are a globe-trotter. Just plug it in randomly.

Say “When I was in London, I missed Chennai’s rowdy auto-rickshaw-walas a lot.” even if you are in an AC hall in Mumbai and the only thing that is connected to auto-rickshaws is someone’s yellow kurti.

If ‘abroad’ is in your diary and psyche, you must be intelligent.

Note : Strictly no acting giddy in love with mentioned foreign city and going ga-ga about it. Underplay – you are no tourist to that city; you fly to and fro just casually. To & fro.. to & fro.

Step 4. “You know..”

Offer some information or opinion and end the sentence with the “you know”, “you know how it is..” etc. Don’t bother to wonder why you are saying it if the opposite party already knows about it!

Also, every stranger you just met should get included in a “we” and a “us”.  All of “you” belong to the same elite, liberal, open-minded, well-read, well-traveled class and all of “you” know exactly the same things, hold exactly the same opinions, and have exactly the same problems.

Since all “your” experiences are the same, feel free to quote any book  randomly and proceed to discuss what the author says in it with no introduction whatsoever. After all, “you” all read and know the same books and like & remember the same parts of those books. If you have problems choosing authors to quote, try Paulo Coelho. You can never go wrong with that one. The same goes with cinema – ONLY foreign cinema allowed – and of course, start with The Godfather. If you want variety, switch to TV & start with Friends. Cricket is not allowed – it is the common man’s sport – you may try F1 racing instead.

Step 5. Induction session for new people.

Find someone you know already and somebody you meet for the first time. You and your friend can take turns “giving some context” to the new bakra by praising each other in double sun level glowing terms. Do not forget to use words like ‘energy’, ‘zen’, ‘sorted’ etc. How could the bakra NOT be interested in knowing “your” greatness? Come on, now – every wanna-be-“intelligent” soul is!

Step 6. Real India.

Grab a bite of the local specialty, go ummmmmm.. heaven, clean the plate, and claim that it is not as good as the fare in that ‘original’-place. After all, in spite of being all elite & urban,  you KNOW the real thing – the “real” India. And the “real” India is in the street-food and the ‘aam aadmi’. The rest of us, including yourself & myself, our ways & lives, are all either imaginary or from Pluto. Or, we are all hallucinating whenever we are not wearing fab-india.. err, I mean Khadi.. and eating Nihari at Nizamuddin – which means, we are hallucinating away our lives. Because, we being the intelligent-patriotic lot, can’t be anything  but “real” Indian.. and thus, by extension, all those parts of our lives deprived of “real” Indian-ness, must be imaginary.

Pssst.. Did you notice how I threw in that bit about Nihari? THAT is how to talk intelligent! Just forget that most people you speak to would not even have heard the term and just throw it at them – the more exotic and foreign but Indian-foreign the term, the better.

Step 7. Deep stuff

Now, you don’t want people to think that you are all about food, travel and indulgence. You have to showcase your depth – your ‘spiritual” depth in particular.

Start by saying that you are not religious, but are spiritual. Emphasize that you do not believe in rituals. That way, your ignorance of the religions and rituals is swiftly masked. Talk about the power of the universe instead. And claim that the cosmos is always neck-deep in plotting how to bring you the things YOU want in life and that all you have to do is keep wishing and have faith in this super-indulgent cosmos to pamper and spoil you.


OK.. now, just this mushy-mushy positive ‘glow’ and happiness and hope doesn’t take you “deep” enough. Only tragedy takes you to the required depth – deep deep down. Jump to Karma now. Because, deep deep deeeeep down, “we” are all living out our Karma – from past lives and past parts of present life.  To be wise and happy, one has to believe in and accept destiny.

Here is the catch : you can not behave as if you were born with a smile and a halo that was a side-effect of all this wisdom. True wisdom is learnt. So, you have to showcase a learning curve – X axis = time, in years from your birth to the current year; Y axis = wisdom, with special markers marking events of “spiritual turning points”. These ‘turning point’ events work best when marked against a “bad period in life” when you were deeply unhappy and frustrated and ta-da… you realized something very karmic and deep and instantly felt contentedness filling up every atomic and sub-atomic particle of your being.   Because, you know, we can’t “realize” the “truest” of truths when we are happy – don’t ask me why, I don’t know – yet.

Step 8. “Life is beautiful.”

After all this stuff, there is bound to be some awkward silence. Pounce at the opportunity and say “But life is beautiful”.

Smile beatifically. Even more, looking at the opposite party’s nose as if God is perched on the bridge of his/her nose.

Repeat yourself. “Life is just so beautiful!”. Say no more. Hold that smile for 5 minutes.

You need not justify or qualify or defend that statement. You have got them confused at having been thrown that random statement, and they are now busy trying to come up with something “profound” of their own to match yours.

Step 9. Can’t impress them? Scare them!

What if you suck at ALL of that? Just tell them that you are an alien from Pluto – make them feel real real scared and totally at a loss about how to talk to you (they don’t know Pluto-nese).

Are you worried that you would not sound believable if you said that? After all you are not blue or green skinned with slanted long eyes and pointy elf ears?

Ummm.. you do have a point there.

But guess what? I found an alternative that works just as well, if not better.

(pauses with an excited grin and spark in the eye – for effect)

Say you are a PhD student, wait for a slight drop in the jaw, and to complete the jaw-drop, say that you are a Computer Scientist!

Works like a charm. You don’t even have to know the difference between Computer Science and Information Technology. You don’t even have to know the difference between research and course work.  Lie through your teeth if you don’t happen to be one. They aren’t going to know. And you can always throw in jargon from some computer magazines if it comes to that. (Pssst.. THAT is why, you should read those magazines!). Just say the golden words – PhD, Computer Science.

WARNING : Use this idea with caution. Do not use if you can not handle being made to feel like a slimy naked alien who just dropped out of a space-ship, whom earthlings want out of their planet and life ASAP. This needs some amount of emotional maturity to pull off.

Step 10. Speak eloquent Alien-ese.

You are one of those losers who had to use Step 9, are you?

Welcome aboard, mate. [extends hand to be shaken]

Every good act has to build up and reach a peak – the crescendo. Now, since you started off with a bang, you have very less time and space to reach the peak. But being the alien around puts you in an advantageous position. All you have to do is to speak such good alien-ese, that the jaw that dropped stays dropped for a while, the eyes just above it sees the proverbial stars, and the brain just above those eyes goes blank for a while, only to come back with “what just hit me? but whatever it was, it sounded incredible!”.

How do you speak this alien-ese? Just pick on all ideas and knowledge that you happen to hold, that is alien to the owner of the jaw, eyes and brain in target. Speak two-three sentences each about them very fast. Here is your chance to unleash all your pet theories and rants.

For me this set worked : Hindu mythology and the symbolism in it, the philosophy in Mahabharata, faith in God as psychological crutch. The education system and the evil that is our present ‘merit-based’ ‘competitive exam’ based system. Creativity in Geeky research.

Just ensure that you come across as super knowledgeable about the stuff you are saying and leave them feeling dumb. Enjoy your moment of feeling as wise and enigmatic as God.

End of crash course. Now go talk way all intelligent. Come back home after collecting salutes to your smartness and pat yourself on the back – “Well done! Who knew it was that easy!”.

P.S. You ask how any of this is evidence of intelligence? Hush.. you shouldn’t question everything. This is how it works. Just take my word for it and you will never regret it.


10 thoughts on “How to Talk Intelligent

  1. Very intelligent indeed 🙂
    Superb analysis, great start (from minus one) and I could actually recall a few conversations of this kind from my past (though I have to confess I was at the receiving end).
    Just one glitch, everybody can’t use #9 to their advantage like you, though I think acting like an alien is far easier to learn than doing a PhD 😀

  2. I have used step 3 and 9 and they work like a charm. I am not a Phd but I have a double Masters. People think I am very intelligent to have a double Masters but in reality I had no idea where I was heading. It was the most random and desperate thing I have done in my life. 🙂

    And then when I tell random people that I honeymooned in Paris, they go jealous and ‘how romantic’ in such quick succession that it never cease to amaze me!!

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