Sunday, 2 December 2018

Unusual Friends - The mentally challenged group

Continuing the stories relating to unusual friends, here is the next instalment about the mentally challenged group.

Now picture this. (I am sorry that I cannot provide a photo here)
A couple of men (possibly brothers) come walking down the road in my direction. They pass scores of people without a sound, but as soon as they spot me, they smile and greet me with a 'buenos dias' and a wave. I always wave back, smile and repeat the greeting. I know of these men and know that they are not all totally there (if you know what I mean). 
What is it that I have which the rest of the population does not?
Happens to me all the time. 
There was this one time at ARCO (The famous art fair) in Madrid and we were told by one of the gallery people that there was a cocktail that evening (by invitation only) and wondered if we were going. I had no knowledge of the event. 
Later when we were on our way out through the elaborate security systems at the exhibition centre, in a big throng of people because it was closing time and slowly making our way to the exit. There may have been a couple of hundred people.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a man coming down some stairs and surveying the crowd, and upon seeing me, began to make his way towards me through the crowd. As he got nearer he waved to me to stop for him. When he got to me he handed me something and said 'We are having a cocktail event this evening, and here are couple of tickets. please join us.'
So, as I said, I do attract attention, but not as much as with the people who feel marginalised.
There is one such man in town, avoided by most people, who is aware that I am from India, so every time he sees me he might shout 'vamonos a Ganges, me cago en diez', which translates to 'lets all go to the Ganges, profanity'.  My reply to him is usually 'why not' and a smile.
Another set of young men (also brothers) are our neighbours and they have severe Autism and Tourette syndrome between them. 
The one with Tourette normally avoids contact but can be seen doing peculiar things as he walks, like avoiding certain areas, or counting steps forward and backwards, or touching every tree three times.
The one with the autism is to be found walking all over town and nearby towns at all hours of the day and night. He also gathers masses of information (from reading at the library I presume) and is likely to engage people in conversation with a dump of all he can think of.
With me he is usually more focussed and I get the 'India' related dump.  If I am with Marisol or friends, he will ignore them and talk only to me while walking alongside.
Something along the lines of 'Did you hear about the holy men gathering on the banks of Ganges, millions of them, 28 got trampled and another 418 are missing, and the city of Cochin has banned fishing with the nets, and the president is visiting the flooded areas of Assam. Did you know that pollution in Amritsar has delayed the trains and the farmers are staging a protest in Kanpur.'
This one way conversation can go on for ten or fifteen minutes, with me nodding or saying 'really?' and trying to find a way of politely ignoring him and get on with my own conversation with whoever I maybe with.
Finally he is likely to get the hint and might end with a 'OK, I will leave you now but can you spare me a Euro for a cup of coffee.' Poor chap.
I wish I could employ him to do some research for me occasionally. 
I can make up a list of topics that might just get him started in the right direction.

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