Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

02 Jul 2007, 14:12 p.m.

MC Masala on Modesty And A Sidewalk Cafe Story

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2007 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

The taboo on attention-seeking (my column last week):

I spent my adolescence learning how to turn down my showoff dial. Or trying to. Enthusiasm + intelligence = "brown-noser," right? And now, like so many women in the professional world, I have to lose my false modesty and trumpet my achievements -- and certainty as loudly as my male colleagues, or I won't get the attention, raises and responsibility I deserve. I have to do PR for my company, but also for myself.

Oddly, the only place I've ever been comfortable with that responsibility is onstage, doing stand-up comedy. I caught the audience's attention and manipulated them into laughing by hacking their minds through humor. What audacity, to control others and to claim my work is worth your attention.

An anecdote on confusion, booze, and frugality is this week's column and a conscious Jon Carroll homage.

The nondrinkers in the audience may not know how subtly a drinker has to communicate to another drinker that the drinking is getting out of hand. "How are you doing?" or "Are you all right?" get said with peculiar, sympathetic, concerned tones and faces. "You're a coward with no tolerance for alcohol and should stop making stupid decisions" does not get said.

So we kept talking, and Dave said things about race that were not racist, but which might sound racist if printed as reportage in a newspaper. Funny how that works. Booze and personal trust make it easier to talk about sex, money, and race/class/gender analysis.

Next week I talk about basil.