Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Complimentary angles

So a few of us (including my visiting blog friend from India) were hanging out at New Asia bar at the 71st floor of Swissotel the Stamford. The Stamford is the tallest hotel in southeast Asia and New Asia bar, in my opinion, offers the best view of Singapore. So we were all looking at the beautiful city lights through the window when I suddenly remembered another panoramic view - the restrooms in the Stamford. So in a purely girly gesture, I dragged both girls to check out the restrooms. They were exactly like I remembered them - huge, beautiful, luxurious, an almost vulgar waste of space.

As I sat down on one of the cushioned chairs waiting for my friends who were checking out the interiors, a Caucasian girl walked past me. Then she stopped, turned and exclaimed, "Oh my god, I LOVE your dress!" Now I'm the kind who believes that it's not your clothes that people compliment, it's how you carry them. So I took the compliment rather personally and grinned like a hyena. She accepted my thanks and went her way, leaving me wondering about compliments from strangers.

There is something amazing about a compliment from a total stranger. It must take quite something for someone who doesn't know you at all, isn't trying to get anything out of you, to stop and say something that makes you happy, but is probably not of any consequence to him or her. That is, perhaps, the purest form of appreciation.

When my Mom was here on the way to the US, I sent a light blue top for my sister through her. Now my sister and I are polar opposites in everything. She's calm, serene and dignified. Ahem. I rest my case.

So Mom said, "I'll probably be bringing this back when I return. I doubt she will wear it." Unlike me, my sister doesn't wear very bright colours. She goes for greys, browns, blacks and muted shades of other colours.

"It'll look good on her. Ask her to try it on."

"Yeah, but you know her. This is not her colour."

"I know it's not her colour. But make her wear it once. If she doesn't like it, bring it back. I'll wear it." I told Mom.

A few days ago, Mom called.

"You know, she wore it today?"

"She did?? Where to?"

"The library."

"The library??"


"Hmmmph! Of all places..." :/

"And some random girl walked past her and told her it was a beautiful top."

"Really?? And??"

"Yeah, and now she really likes it."

It's difficult to convey rolling eyes over the phone, but I rolled them anyway.

And I wondered - what is it about a stranger's compliment that overrides everything else? The same 'pointless' point made by your own family members now has a point because a total stranger made it? Perhaps it's the total lack of bias that makes a stranger's compliment so objective, so pure, so real... the truth?

Have you ever complimented - or been complimented by - a total stranger?


kashika said...


Shashikant Kore said...


kashika said...

When I was in 11th, I had participated in an inter school powerpoint presentation competition, where I was supposed to speak while my partner was supposed to give the actual presentation. After the whole thing was over, a guy from the host school came up to me and said, 'I just love your voice.' The word flattered doesnt even begin to describe how I felt. Though some of my friends say he was flirting, I'd like to believe otherwise. :)

Rosh said...

One sunny morning in London, as I was waiting for a bus to office, a middleaged African lady walks over to me and tells me that I had great hair.
And I quote her "Nice hair! Unlike these pommies! I bet you are from Asia. People in Asia and Africa have good hair."
I was surprised coz I dislike my hair. It is the type that whether you comb it or not doesn't matter. It will remain wherever it wants to be rather than where your comb asks it to be.
So yes! I have been complimented by a total stranger, but it didn't ,for some reason, flatter me.


Anonymous said...

I'm completely and absolutely overwhelmed by your posts. I started reading and I'm simply hooked. I have no idea how I stumbled upon your blog, but i'm glad I did. You most definitely rock and better, inspired me to write a poem :). This is another flower of compliment you might want to add to your already full bouquet. You are a terrific writer and I can with your your personality. Tomboyish but in style and attitude.
I'm mentioning you in my post and would like to add you on my blogroll, if you dont mind that is.
Way to go Sayesha (oops Sash Bhai)

Thisisme said...

well...I have been complimented by complete strangers..but i dunno how I should be taking it :-s
I was in london for quite some years and even though ppl completely mind their own businesses there..while i was waiting alone for a frnd of mine at the tower bridge..a french guy walked up to me and told me that he found me beautiful n what not..anthr time a black guy approached me askin me out strghtaway.. this happened 2-3 times..:-s somehow I dont take kindly to strangers complimenting..esp if its guys..maybe the indian gal in me (who is so used to all kinda cheapo comments while walkin on the delhi roads :P ) doesnt trust guys compliementing w/o any bias..
but yeah if it was a gal complimenting me..i would feel great! it takes a lot for a gal to compliment anthr one..esp strangers...have had that also..n actually felt genuinely good :-)
I suppose its actually abt "it's the total lack of bias that makes a stranger's compliment so objective, so pure, so real... the truth"
as usual..u summed it up neatly :)

Thisisme said...

n since no one claimed silver n bronze ..i get BOTH !! :DDDDD

shub said...

you hit the nail - lack of bias, and objectivity is what makes it so special.

I've wondered this a coupla times - if I like a complete stranger's clothes/shoes, will it be rude to tell them that and ask where they got it? I for one would be flattered to be on the receiving end.

satish said...

No. Never!

Sayesha said...


Errrm... how lazy are you man? :P

WHOA! I hope the guy was cute! :))))

Hahaha! Maybe she really liked your kinda hair yaar! :)

Hey, welcome to the bar! Thanks for all your kind words. Hope to see you around more often. I just checked out your blog, thanks for the honourable mention! And the poem is cute! :)

Hahahaha! You must be a total knockout! Now you have to send me a photo! :D

//if I like a complete stranger's clothes/shoes, will it be rude to tell them that and ask where they got it?

Hmmm... I guess it really depends... some people will take it as a compliment, but may even get offended and all! Hehehe! :P

//I for one would be flattered to be on the receiving end.

Hehehe! I'll size up the person before answering. If she's hotter than me, I won't tell her the exact shop! Heh heh heh! Evil me! :P

Uffffffffff! Yeh ladka! :D

Sujatha Bagal said...

Came to your blog via TGFI. Love your breezy writing style.

I once complimented a woman on a subway on her eyes. She was taken aback and very appreciative. And an old gentleman in Philly once told me - and these are his words - "God! You're beautiful!". I had hated Philly up until that point. :D

Deeps said...

I have been complemented by total strangers for my stylish bindi-s (the forehead spot not the vegetable :-p) and my hair. I have complemented a girl on her hair at my wedding (I didn't know her at all!). I think the trend is more in foreign countries than in India and as you said, it somehow makes you feel special (though your hubby/relatives/friends may have said the same thing a million times). I guess it strokes our ego in some way ;-).

Nidhi said...

How does the entire world knows when u write a post?? I checked ur blog in the evening and there was no new post....and a couple of hours later...there is a new post with abt a dozen comments already!!! :O

May be the way u write...makes people hooked and they keep coming back for more and more :) (well...i just complimented a not-so-strange stranger!!!) :D

Received a compliment when I was in US and wore a dhinchak punjabi salwar suit to office....a cute chinky (no offence meant) guy said..."u look terrific!!!" *blush*

Shanks_P said...

Hi Sayesha,
Nice blogs and now i'm a frequent vistor to the bar ;)

Yes, stranger compliment over rides everything. I got a comment very recently from a lady in the tube, got a little aback as I usually don't get compliments ...Now when ever i wear the same shirt, an air of confidence is there ...but it is the same old shirt and person :D

nycbewda said...

kaiso ho?
Bahut kaam hai bhai, wat lag raha hain, phir bhi thoda time nikal hi letha huin aap ka blog padne ke liye. I never got any compliment as such aur apun ka mom bhi bhole thi "Never talk/listen to strangers" ha ha ha.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Bhai, I was called " too hot to be a nerd" by two total strangers! :D :D

I tell you --- duniya wake hi gol hai! :P

Amey said...

Have you ever complimented - or been complimented by - a total stranger?

Bhai, ye aap bloggers ko pooch rahe ho?

As you said, maybe we value compliments from strangers more because they don't have any pre-conceptions about us (and sometimes don't have anything to get out of it).

Ab said...

that reminds me.... i had once resolved to actually compliment good things i see in strangers... jus to make someone feel happy and all that blah.... well, say what i kinda forgot the resolution overtime... and i guess thats why i appear so clumsy when i am in society....

bellydancer said...

Mostly by Ah Peks at the market! hahaha :D

Thisisme said...

naa re..me no knockout..:-s
i dunno y those guys thot so..it does stroke ur ego..but still..i think most of the women i meet r hotter than me :-) n yes..as someone here said..complimenting a stranger is common outside india more..
in india..its basically maal-dhinchak types comments u get to hear while walkin on roads..n no..they dont make u feel good! :(

Vaijayanta Chattoraj said...

Air Hostesses are the ones who compliment people a lot when they stand near the gate of the plane and the passengers go out or come in making a queue. They are very good at it. I've seen it myself. You must have faced such situations.

Your sister's story made me recollect the story of "Kal Ho Na Ho" where SRK transformed the dull, never-laughing-type Preity Zinta into a bright, bubbly girl.

(my new post on Indian Cricket League)

Sanjana said...

Nobody likes me! Nobody complimented me!!! :-((((((((

rayshma said...

oh uh... i even rather TALK to strangers than ppl i know. *unless they're frenz* but then i'm a tad weird.
yeah, i LOVE being complimented by strangers. never hpnd in india. but has hpnd on a few occasions in dubai, oman and here in d US. i usually discount it when a guy says something. but i LOVE it when another unknown *using strange here wud be a pun, eh?* woman compliments me! feels awesome!

Bivas said...

Here's a question...
how about all the new people we meet in the cyberworld? Do compliments from them affect us the same way as receiving it from some stranger in person?
Btw...i read this somewhere and was reminded of this just now..."Make friends with people you meet...remember, your friends were strangers once!"

Adorable Pancreas said...

Indians (or maybe it's just mallus, I shouldn't generalise) are wary about talking to strangers, much less complimenting them. No one's ever complimented me, or perhaps it's just my terrible dress sense.

Vijay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vijay said...

I was a complete teetotaller - but you made me a bewda at this bar!

I consumed this one neat!

Cheers! :)

youtham said...

hahaha lol

was the stranger drunk.

i suppose she was drunk bcos the location proves.

drunk says junk ;)

Unknown said...

Nice post...and nopes never been there and got that done... but i sure wish someone would...

Jaya said...

Few years back, on the last day of my summer internship, a guy who used to sit the same aisle but with whom I had no interaction , complimented me for having the brightest smile he had ever seen.
I only smiled harder on hearing this. But yes it feels great! I have generally complimented only someone at workplace with whom I had no interaction till then, not a complete stranger on the street.

Kusum Rohra said...

I used to train in the quintessential mumbai local trains and was complimented regularly by total strangers for my clothes, shoes or accessories :)

I agree with you completely the total lack of bias does add some strange validation to a compliment for a stranger.