Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Methodology / Elephant Butt

In the process of interviewing, there is short and long. I like long because it reminds me of when we were kids and shared a room, my brother and I used to collect chewed up gum and stretch it from one wall to the other wall and stick our artwork to it like a clothesline. It always managed to stay up at least long enough for someone else to see it.

But the short is unavoidable. Always waiting in the shadows, stumpylike.
Today I interviewed three women in a row and couldn't get more than ten minutes out of any of them and a lot of the time they were just talking to each other about my questions instead of answering them. They did not want to be in a room alone with me even though I am not a frightening person until you get to know me. They were waiting in line like three women in a row waiting for a dentist appointment because my cousin told them they had to do it, like how people tell you that you have to go to the dentist and it makes your life shorter because you have to go every six months and it never feels like it has been a whole six months.
I had to make a 'stumpy interviews' folder on my desktop. I keep it in a dark corner and refuse to give it a color until it shows some initiative.

I am partially to blame.
Six minutes in, I was asking "woman-3" about important people in her life and she told me that she had lost both her father and her only sibling, a younger sister, and she had meant everything to her. It is the sort of thing that is hard to respond to in any situation. let alone during an interview being conducted in a language that I do not speak and only just barely understand. I let it linger for a few seconds and then awkwardly moved on like a little animated slug who is not very sure of himself and who has no friends.

The first woman answered all of my questions as if she was scolding me loudly and eventually changed places with a different woman who clearly did not want to be interviewed and most of our conversation was about how much she did not want to take part in my project and the trajectory of how it would fail.

It is hard to know what to shoot for. We pushed through sixty minutes today and every time I woke up from my inappropriate corner-slumber the guy was looking at me as he spoke into the microphone about his life and times as a painter of traditional Kashmiri paper mache. He was annoyed that I did not understand anything he was saying but happy to be captured on record for posterity. He still smiled at me as we were leaving and let me take a picture of his paint-covered yellow hand.

No comments: