Saturday, October 24, 2009

Theory of Relativity

According to Wikipedia - “Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human Web") refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth.”

Think back to the times before the Internet and social networking, do you think this would have been possible? Would a mere six steps connect you and a person in say, Siberia or Cuba? I am a very skeptical person and if truth be told I don’t exactly believe this is possible.  Of course in this day and age we know a mere click of the mouse can connect us to anyone anywhere in the world, but again I’m talking about the pre-information-revolution days.

But the Mizo community is a whole different story. Or in that case any small community like ours. Everybody knows everybody else. And their relatives. And their family history. And their pet peeves and likes and dislikes. Forget about six degrees of separation, two degrees will do! Pick any two Mizos and the scales wilt tilt in the favour of their having known someone in common. And in some cases they would be related somehow or through by marriage. Take you for instance, dear reader, if you are a Mizo, how do you know you and I are not related, and if we really sit down to talk I bet we will discover that we know a whole lot of people in common.

A popular subject between two Mizo strangers when after the initial introductions are over is to talk about people they know in common.

Person 1: So where do you live in Aizawl? 
Person 2: College Veng. How about you?
Person 1: Tlangnuam.
Person 2: Do you know John? Tall, bald, lives near the church?
Person 1: Known him since childhood, in fact I was at school with his younger brother Jim.
Person 2: Jim? Did he go to St Paul’s?
Person 1: Yes, we were there from ‘91-‘93. Do you know him?
Person 2: I knew his girlfriend, Jane, you know her? From Kulikawn, went to Mount Carmel?
Person 1: Knew her very well. Jim and I used to see her after school. How did you know Jane?
Person 2: Her elder sister is my cousin’s wife.
etc etc etc….

Ours is such a small community that one has to be careful what one says and does, you never know how things may come back to you. And you have to be careful how you treat people, you never know how or when you might need their help in the future.  Many years ago I knew a guy, and after a while we went our separate ways. He dropped out of sight and out of mind. I went home this January, and one day as I was sorting through some old magazines I discovered a piece of paper addressed to my mother in which she was nominated to share the bride price of a distant relative. And no prizes for guessing who that girl was getting married to.  Talk about awkward situations.

And then there is this relative of mine who got married to a guy. Everything was well and fine, except for the small matter that she was at school with his younger sister and they weren’t exactly best buddies. The things you do for love. But that was many years ago, and things are now hunky dory between the two of them, the two girls I mean. Well at least things worked out well for them, but I’m sure this is not always the case with many other people.

So, the whole point is, be nice to others.


  1. I guess it would have been a difficult task if it had not been for internet and social networks like facebook and orkut. Six steps seems too much it seems. I guess that article where you read it must reduce it to five or four maybe in a post..goes out well to show the power of community building..keep writing.

  2. Ashu - Thanks for visiting. And yeah thanks to the Internet and facebook and orkut the world has become such a small place and communication has become so much easier.

  3. Lol. If you decide to get down to it, you're bound to find out that every other human you meet is a distant relative of yours - point being, it isn't just (comparatively) small communities that are really close.

    "So, the whole point is, be nice to others."
    If only...

  4. Goth - Well, if you are speaking of the whole human race, then everybody is related in some way, after all don't we all share the same ancestors?

    Prats - Thank you.