Counting Voices


You, me, and our silences

By Neel Anil Panicker

If life is meant to be enjoyed then conversation is definitely one of its most potent drivers. You can have all the wealth in the world and still be poor as opposed to the person who may be materially poor but ends up the happiest soul on the planet thanks to the company he keeps and the conversations that enrich him.

The other day I chanced upon an interesting definition of what constitutes conversation.

Speak only when it improves the silence.

And guess who said these immortal piece of advice.

None other than an immortal himself_ the ever inspirational  Mahatma Gandhi.

An anecdotal reference is very much in order here.

A friend I know had after only a month of engaging an architect decided to go in for a replacement.
Three months later on bumping into him  I detected a perceptible glint in his eyes. He was walking around with a spring in his steps.
My curiosity aroused, I queried him about the source of his new found happiness.
His reply not only stunned me but also turned out to be an eye opener as far as the conduct of human relationships is concerned.
This is what my dear friend said and I quote verbatim:
“Friend, The old hire was only interested in building a house for me; but, the new architect did more than that; he was in the business of building dreams.”
That’s the power of conversations, my dear friends.

I hate to talk but love to have conversations. And to have one you don’t always need a crowd.

In fact some of my most joyous and memorable conversations have been with that special someone with whom you just don’t need to put on an act; someone with whom you can let your guard down and converse with your heart and mind and also without at times the crutch of language or words.
That to me is conversation when two or more people get together and then allow the silence to act as the catalyst for what turns out into a life enriching experience.
And of late I have had a few such ennobling experiences, albeit when I had only myself for company.


I wrote this in response to the

Counting Voices

A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?


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