Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

The world exists to annoy me. I’ve noticed to my chagrin some people signing-off their email with pithy aphorisms.”War is the science of destruction” or “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of”. As if I care. What happened? Are Bumper Stickers not haute enough this season? When I send an email oozing with professional urgency, I’m totally unprepared for mawkish “Philosophy for Dummies” lessons. I didn’t sign-up to read some dead guy’s anodyne to life’s ills. Hey, if they are so brainy, how come they are all dead? Mwahaha!!

Here’s my gnarly adage – “Stop lying dog, or I’ll sock it to ya!”. An obstinate person might construe that my cerebral department didn’t exactly work overtime to coin that. But what else do you expect from a woman that collects screw drivers? The Theory of Everything??

Now seriously. I hardly ever lie. Not because of my impending sainthood, but because I’m bone-lazy. It takes too much effort to lie – but, all it takes is a feeble brain to blurt out the truth. I mean, some lies are so complex & convoluted that you need a story-board to keep the facts straight. What can the inept do? Truth is the only recourse, their only succor.

Lying is a difficult terrain to navigate. Added to that is our moral Sturm und Drang. So, most of us emit unconscious signals thru our tone, body language & choice of words that shriek “I’m a frigging LIAR!”. When we lie, our eye-balls drift to the right – the creative part of our brain – which is furiously cranking out a fib. Or so I heard from no less authority than Samuel L Jackson in “The Negotiator” ๐Ÿ™‚ Since I’m too asinine to lie, I’m not cool when others are successful at it. So cut a sister some slack & stick to the truth.

I’ve reached that point of time in my life where I ruminate long & hard over the question – What shall I bequeath to this world? What will be my legacy? What would be my piece de resistance? The answer hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ll put together a Compendium of Liars! Why didn’t this occur to me earlier?

Many years back, I took my aunt to a snooty & scandalously expensive restaurant in Chennai. The ambience was good, the food was mediocre, service was par-excellence, there was live troop playing soporific music, the room was full of snobs and the bill gave me a thrombosis. You know – the typical five-star hotel mise en scene. My aunt was agog with excitement & she had on her string of pearls for that grand occasion.

On our way back, she told me conspiratorially – “If anyone asks me where I went, I’ll tell them we went to the New Woodlands restaurant”. I was totally at sea – Why would she lie? We had been to a wickedly conceited place, 10 times as expensive as “New Woodlands”. What’s the matter, she couldn’t see the brag value? “To ward off the Evil Eye!” she nodded her head knowingly. Most people she spoke to called her long distance over the phone, for crying out loud. “You think the Evil Eye tele-commutes over the phone lines?” I asked mercilessly. No one can accuse me of clemency. She smiled sweetly, but stuck to her guns. So, that’s the 1st kind for you – the Exorcists. They are forever sparring with evil eyes & other malfeasance.

Next up are the Myth Makers – They can’t leave well enough alone. They keep embellishing an event, that after a while you’ll be hard put to separate fact from fiction. Once, my aunt misplaced her expensive emerald ear-rings. I was asked to find it. With my psychotic levels of patience & neurotic adherence to method, I usually find what I’m hunting for.ย  I inspected my aunt’s steel armoire. Since she had moved to a new house recently, I thought the jewels might have fallen into the crevices. And that’s exactly where I found the ear-rings – along with a powder compact & 3 picture post-cards of the Miami beach that my cousins had stolen from me. It was a shocking discovery for all concerned.

My grandma cottoned on to this – and started narrating my “prowess”. With bells & whistles added to her palaver, of course. “She saw something glittering” – she said to her wide-eyed audience. “What the…I never saw anything, you old coot!” I interjected. But no one paid me any attention. Subsequent versions had me using a Sniffer Dog & a Magnifying glass a la Sherlock Holmes. And pouncing on the “miscreant”. I hope to be canonized soon. Priya Raju, the Matron Saint of Lost Items.

Some people feel obligated to lie. Truth is so blah. We need colorful, artful, decorative lies – or the planet might kick the bucket out of sheer boredom. The trouble with them is, they don’t know where to stop. Their imagination fires up & they just get carried away. “I was late because I was stopped. By an armored vehicle. Er, make that a UFO. And out popped little green men”. Or, they contradict themselves, trip over the mess they’ve created & fall face-down with a “Splat”. The “Elvis Presley, Entertainer” liars – No one takes them seriously, not even themselves.

And then there’s the kind that’s allergic to the truth. Take my baby-sitter (please – take her). She abhors truth. “Why do you need 5 days off?” “Because Madam, I have to attend my sister’s wedding”. “But, you don’t have a sister!”. At which point, she’ll start sulking & the atmosphere becomes inimical to a conversation.

Some lies are not lies at all. For e.g, the Brazil nuts that you bump into on the “E” train who insist that they are St John the Baptist in flesh. Technically, they are not lying – poor things, they firmly believe what they say. They are probably waiting for Salome, as we speak. “Necessary” lies don’t count either. After a couple of brewskis, a guy I knew once asked me – “So how much money do you have in the bank? Huh? Scads of cash?”. “I have none, my dear. I go around with a begging bowl” I told him with a straight face.

Have you encountered other types of liars? Be a pal & tell me – And help me finish my Magnum Opus. Take some leeway to be offensive, I say. We need our entertainment.


  1. Quote

    Errr. Another kind of liar would be me!! the “white-lies-which-dont-affect-anyone” liar. I remember when i was in hostel the food used to be miserable and when ppl at home called me and aked me if i had had breakfast i would lie spontaneously saying “yeah i did” because otherwise i would get a huge dressing down about the ill effects of not having breakfast, about how it would affect my future genrations and how i would get osteoporosis and things like that. i figured it was easier to lie than listen to all that.
    Nice post!! made me think about the kind of liar i am!! ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. Quote

    Revs – Thanks for your comment.

    You lied about eating & people believed you? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I need to learn that pronto. I sometimes skip a meal to lose a few pounds – I don’t even have to say anything. My folks take one look at me & order me to wolf down something. Resistance is usually futile.

    Its pretty sad, how transparent I am.

  3. Quote

    //I hardly ever lie. Not because of my impending sainthood, but because Iโ€™m bone-lazy. It takes too much effort to lie

    EXACTLY my point! Whenever people go like “You know what blah blah” , and i am listening wide eyed, and go “oh really ?” And as they burst out a Oh-I-was-just-kidding, I am thinking to myself jeez! Why would someone take so much effort to lie? What do you get out of it? :-S
    They would be the I-Lie-Cos-I-Can kind , It like the story of the wolf! When these people are trying to get the truth to me , I m like bah! you are probably lying. And they are like “Man! Cant you ever tell the difference”.

    White-lying as revs puts it is probably something I might have tried, but my style of lying is, not speaking about whatever I don’t want to tell. Its as simple as that. Lying is putting too much thought to your brain. Not speaking about the matter is a totally different thing. Zero Effort! Voila!

    Ofcourse! That doesnt mean I have never lied! Been there! Done that ! Failed miserably most of the time! ๐Ÿ˜›

    //Iโ€™ll put together a Compendium of Liars!
    Write a book! Aaah I can imagine how hilarious and oozing with sarcasm it will be! Do that! Please Do that!

  4. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said July 12, 2008, 4:19 am:

    Good one Priya. We should one more category to your compendium – Confidence Tricksters. These people are so adept at lying that you believe them even when you know that they are lying. They are that good. I have come across a few of these specimens.

  5. Quote

    Jass – Thanks for your comment.

    I’m really glad to have some company. People are twisted, aren’t they? Most of the successful liars make it look so..effortless.

    Yeah, avoiding the topic in its entirety is best suited for people like us. Even then, my family & friends can make out that I’m hiding something ๐Ÿ™ They are always like “Spit it out! Out with it!”. Its a cruel world.

    So, when I publish my compendium, I’ll sell at least 1 copy ๐Ÿ˜€ That’s really good news ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Quote

    Sukumar – Thanks for your comment.

    Con (Wo)Men – Hey, how did I miss that? It takes a liar to know one ๐Ÿ˜€ Say what? ๐Ÿ˜†

  7. Quote

    I share the type of lies like Revati! white lies which affect none, but cuts thru the loooong list of advices we usually get ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Quote

    TheAnand – Thanks for your comment.

    I see what you mean. Every family has a nosey-parker. Such people always want to know how much I paid for the TV, Car, Flat etc. In such occasions, I play the dumb & ditzy wife & tell them “I have to ask my husband, really I’m ignorant about money matters”. No one believes it for a second, since I’m an alpha woman. But at least it ends all questions ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Quote

    Phone Call from Girl Friends in front of parents ?? ๐Ÿ™‚ .. particularly, when the question comes “Who is that in the phone”..

    Medical Reps.. they cant survive without lies .. during my college one of my friend was working with pfizer as marketing manager.. and he used to give me some set of bills for signing.. what for?? to achieve the target..

    Sweet lies b/w lovers .. and some times bitter lies..

    I feel, most of advertisements are interleaved with lies..

  10. Quote

    Senthil – Thanks for your comment.

    Bitter lies? Hmm – I haven’t considered lies of a nastier kind so far. Good catch ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ads though – at least the Ads in India – people aren’t supposed to believe them. Or at least, I hope they don’t. I marvel at how most products don’t work as advertised ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Quote

    Lovely post Priya (That wasn’t a lie though :p)

    The post makes me think of the kind of liar I am. I am the “cannot-hurt-people”/Avoid-conflict-by-telling-lies kind of liar. If somebody shows me their latest gadget or dress, even if I totally hate it, just for the sake of being polite(I blame my mom for this :P) I tell them it’s totally awesome.

    Ofcourse, the kind of “white-lies” that Revathi mentions, I have told that a lot esp to parents,friends and relatives.

    And ya how can I forget the number of classes I have bunked in college and always ended up telling my HOD some stupid reason ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But most of the times these days, when I want to avoid telling lies, I remain silent. I prefer silence to telling lies.

  12. Quote

    Unfortunately silence only gives them the permission to quote us in their own fancy ๐Ÿ™

  13. Quote

    Saraswathi – Thanks for your comment.

    My stiff upper-lip British friend taught me this. If someone wants my opinion on something totally horrid – and its clear to me that they are not receptive to feedback – I tell them its “nice”. If I say its “very good” or “really nice” it means its somewhat good or at least functional. If I truly like it, I say “brilliant” or “superb” or something like that. There’s a gradation to these adjectives ๐Ÿ™‚ Love the British. They manage to complicate (AKA sophisticate) everything.

  14. Quote

    TheAnand – Perhaps. Silence speaks volumes to those that want to interpret it correctly. Unfortunately, most people don’t want the truth. They just want you to agree with them. Hence the trouble.

  15. Quote

    Foreign affair lies – like Govt told Left that they don’t know what they are going to sign with IAEA.
    Bush lies – We will smoke them out
    CIA lies – Saddam has N-bomb, we can win in Nam etc
    Godmen lies – We have conference call with God everynight
    My grocer in Nellore, India – this rice is export quality sir.rendu rojullo stock ayipothundi (Stock will be over in two days)

  16. Quote

    @ priya, true…there are indeed grades in everything (i dint know the brits were responsible…)

    @ Vamsi, the last one is so common! I can relate to that in almost every shop I visit in Cochin (ppl speak to me in hindi, thinkin i am a northie)

  17. Quote

    our neighbour’s mother has liver cancer. The doctor told “She would live a max of another 3 months”.. and we used to talk to her, she would share her pains with us.. all of us in our apartment know the truth, except her.. and we are lying to her “There is nothing in it.. its usual pain that everyone gets.. ”

    We cant even think of telling the truth.. bcoz we dont know how one would feel, if their last days are fixed, that too very near..

    In a similar case, during my childhood, my grandfather had a heart valve failure, and for 6 months till he died, it was known only to my uncle and my father.. (not even my mother)..

    I feel, lies are ok as long as it doesnt cheat (Is there any lie that doesnt cheat?? ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  18. Quote

    in the recent years, I used to tell the truth to my friends and parents most of the times, even though its unpleasant.. atleast we would win the trust.. its very easy to tell the truth than to tell a lie and maintain it..
    Being open is an important character that a man should possess..

  19. Quote

    Vamsi – Thanks for your comment.

    Oh yes, the lies of the Republicans. Ignominious. Or the lies of Iran! We tested missiles ๐Ÿ˜› This is the 2nd time Iran has managed to cheat the US massively. The 1st time was – “Saddam has WMDs”, wasn’t it? Or, so many people suspect.

  20. Quote

    Senthil – So, we agree on something – that too, we share a cherished value ๐Ÿ˜›

    Yes, seriously speaking – I brave the weather & tell the truth. Unless there are over-whelming benefits in with-holding the truth. Once, a neighbor’s teenage son was arrested for stealing (breaking & entering a shop). Some nosey people tried to pry the sordid details from me. I told them flatly that I knew nothing whatsoever & requested them to stop talking about it. The neighbors had enough on their hands already.

    This is my view: In our love for our dear & near, we want to spare them additional agony & hence believe that we should hide the fact that they are terminally ill. But, I think everyone has the right to know about their own body & health. We should let adults deal with the truth, rather than try to protect them.

    Perhaps they’ll use the remaining time settle their affairs, do things they’ve always wanted to do, mend broken relationships, make their will, plan to donate their organs, write a “do not resuscitate” request…its an endless list. In the end, hiding the truth causes more harm. People may feel cheated when they come to know that their terminal illness was hidden from them. Again, I’m just stating my view.

  21. Quote

    Yes indeed.. i thought i am diametrically opposite to your views.. but there are some meeting points ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Quote

    I have a friend who, given a choice between telling a simple truth or an elaborate lie, would invariably choose the latter, thus landing himself in a lot of trouble! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Once, we found porn magazines under his bed and the elaborate story he concocted (“it was a plant: obviously he never read such stuff!”) would have put a Garcia Marquez to shame!

    Nice post.

  23. Quote

    Rada – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    I see that your friend feels obligated to lie – that’s his way of reducing drabness in this world. We need people like him. Whose leg would we pull otherwise, I ask you?

    And thanks for quoting a guy who’s not dead ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ok, that’s an insensitive remark – considering GGM is very sick & everything. I’m not guilty of delicacy, I’m a clod.

  24. Quote
    Rupika said July 15, 2008, 5:49 am:

    @ Priya
    Good one again! But you misunderstood the intention behind taking away (not stealing) your things… It’s purely to remember you when you are away ๐Ÿ™‚ and we did duly imform our grandmom before vanishing your things :).

    We did declare that your things are henceforth ours, but you weren’t there… Tell me, is it our fault?
    And am very sorry I cant agree with giving you sainthood for finding lost things, you’d done a superficial search and found just the tip of the iceberg :)) Better luck next time :))

  25. Quote
    Sowmya said July 15, 2008, 6:18 am:

    @ Priya,
    Hi Akka,
    nice post.
    Rupi is right. we did declare it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Quote

    Rupika – Thanks for your comment, thieving cousin of mine.

    Shameless thief ๐Ÿ™‚ Now it looks like I merely scratched the surface of your banditry.

    Coming to think of it, I did lose a silver cup when you visited me last week. Is your proclamation – that my things are yours – still operational? ๐Ÿ˜› Just kidding.

  27. Quote

    Sowmya – Thanks for your comment. Ah, the 2nd thief behind the vanishing picture postcards dares to comment too! Highway Robber!

    Yeah right, girl. I declared last week that I’m gonna punch your nose. Too bad you didn’t hear it. Get your nose ready ๐Ÿ˜€ Just kidding.

  28. Quote

    @ Priyaka
    That proclamation would suit depending on how interesting your things are now. Then you sounded trendy to us and your stuff were very interesting too. Show me what you have now, then will give a blanket announcement that “All mine”!!!

    Sowmy (my sister) usually quotes only one cause for her absence in school and college, i.e, her grandparents’ death ๐Ÿ™‚ She used to bunk atleast once a week
    Wonder how many she had ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Your silver cup is missing? That rings a bell, your things interest someone else too ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Quote

    Rupika – “Then you sounded trendy”??? Then?? Sounded??

    Girl, you are a glutton for punishment. I’m telling your kid how you went to school. “Went” is a euphemism. Your father had to practically chase you down the streets leading to the school, while you rolled around on the city streets weeping bitterly. Try disciplining him then.

    Villain Priya. Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!

  30. Quote

    @ Rupi –
    U wrote and signed ๐Ÿ˜‰ the leave letters on behalf of mom….

    @ Priyaka –
    Rupi cried when she went to college too.. u should have seen it. Unlike me she always cried when she went to school or coll. I was the only good girl :p in the Whole Family ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Quote

    Sowmya – We have a forger in our midst?? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Don’t make parade your dirty linen, girl. Rupika just mentioned how you “killed” innumerable grand-parents for the sake of bunking school.

  32. Quote
    Rupika said July 16, 2008, 2:54 am:

    @ Sowmya
    Ma’m, you think I have a poor memory of your 9am illness and how you switched 12 schools from KG to 12th std? And yes, you never cried when you went to school or college, because you never went.

    @ Priyaka
    You want me to declare how hard you tried to memorize Sowmya’s 3rd std hindi poems and your bargaining competency? Guys, please don’t make me tell the truth….

    Reg. going to school and college… That wasn’t even a big deal, now going to office uhuh!!!! My son knows how bad I feel to be out of home after 9am… But he feels the otherway and starts seeing me very quizically as if “Why the hell she is still here?” He literally catches my hand and leads me to the door; he has taken over my dad’s job now ๐Ÿ™ People don’t want me at home, after 9am.. Poor me ๐Ÿ™

  33. Quote
    Sowmya said July 16, 2008, 3:28 am:

    Rupika – please stand corrected. i attended 13 schools not including the vaccation time schools i attended from kg to 12th.

  34. Quote
    Sowmya said July 16, 2008, 3:29 am:

    Well Rupi knew only that, i used stomach pain, sister’s marriage etc… as reasons too… Am very creative with that u know. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And akka, the inventory manager was Grandma… Sorry cant help u there ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. Quote

    Amazingly well articulated Post Priya. Really relished each lie category and was simultaneously dropping each lie, i have recently been pushing on others and vice versa, into separate baskets.

    First would be the planned lies usually puked at work. Most often to a question like “When will blah get over?” One know it hardly takes 1 day, but, mainly cos of constant bumping of beliefs of two parties, his that breaking work in between prevents you from breaking and diagonally opposite view of the lead that breaking work in between breaks,aye, work, he burst 5 days.

    Second would be the one which am using a lot these days, smearing unknowns . i usually use them when i have to protect myself from heavy bashings. No Network, bangalore traffic, rude autowalas or buggy credit card walas. Afterall how else use the 6.6 billion people in world?

    Third would mostly be a ‘non-lie’ lie. Mainly burped when i know hardly makes any difference. Either because what i say is going to come true just in a brief, something like saying “just reached the airport” when i know am just meters away. Or when i know it doesn’t matter that much usually like answering “nothing” to the most boring question “wassup” asked in the least interesting way.

    Uhh the categories just make me wonder am i lying a lot these days? ๐Ÿ˜›

  36. Quote

    Amit – Thanks for your comment.

    Special thanks for your addendum to my list. We recently bought a flat. The builder was a great one for “smearing unknowns” to explain his delays. “Its the corrupt government, madam. You wouldn’t want me to bribe them to hasten things up, would you madam?”

    Saying “just reached the airport” when you are a few meters away is perhaps a non-lie. My hands start itching when people stretch “a few meters” to “a few miles” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    People are forever telling me that they’ll be with me in “5 minutes” or “Pive Minutes” – depending on which state of India they are from ๐Ÿ˜€ I shudder when I hear that. Becoz, “Pive Minutes” in IST (Indian Stretchable Time) means they intend to be with you, but when – they cannot say.

  37. Quote

    Yeah, i feel we have to face these smearing unknowns the most. We can find rising prices for raw materials being blamed every alternate day for increasing the product costs. I mean my laundry guy increased the rate from 2 to 3 rupees per cloth saying “Saab you never buy coal. Go to the coal market once and then you will understand how pathetic our situation is”. Now the turn was mine to be remorseful.

    Am not sure if this can be classified as a lie, but I still remember one of my friends blaming the Verilog code for not being Turing Computable when it refused to work as intended ๐Ÿ˜›

  38. Quote

    Amit – I think all the press-wallahs in India are on to this conspiracy. In Chennai, the price per item is Rs 2.50. And the guy who irons my clothes has been sulking for the past 2 weeks. Usually, that means his wife kicked him out again or he’s gonna hike the price. I can’t bear the suspense.

    You are not sure your friend lied?! Of course, s/he lied – using high falutin words, s/he blamed the very task s/he was supposed to do, which is make the code work ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thereby confounding & distracting attention.

    What brilliance. What’s s/he doing here?? Should be running CIA or NSA instead. “Saddam has WMD! Upon my Word”. S/He should be mouthing stuff like that.

  39. Quote

    Yeah. By not sure i meant am just skeptic about calling such words of wisdom as plain lies. I didn’t have courage enough to categorize this divine experience as a lie ๐Ÿ˜›

  40. Quote

    Amit – Divine Experience?! ROFL ๐Ÿ˜† Yea, you are probably right. It is an egregious mistake to categorize his feat as a simple lie. Your friend is an inspiration to us all ๐Ÿ˜‰

  41. Quote

    great one. but too much comments i lost in middle(can someone explain all to me clearly? if possible pls). it is very hard to find buddha,gandhi, and jesus nowadays, everybody started lying for everything(oops philosophy for dummies hang over). i think setting expectations can avoid some lies. i love kid’s lie, it is sweet and humor, i love poet’s lie in lyrics, it is great imagination and great to listen. but i hate car salesman lies (they knew that they are lying but won’t stop until we say something…LOL) and political party leader lies especially during election(like moving beach from mumbai to delhi or make india superpower within 3 months etc, which are difficult and impossible), regardless of country (US or India). now US they started big lie about going (green) less pollution at same time allowing more oil drilling. last thing is, for telecommuting(work from home) people’s lies are become worst nowadays.

  42. Quote
    pk.karthik said July 20, 2008, 2:16 am:

    Great post Priya…..ROFL……

    From school ,I guess the most common form was Dead Grandparents Lie: Where a grand parent used to die often.Looking back at it I do remember a class mate of mine who used to kill one of his grandparent every term…

    Then we can have for lies for fun or for the heck of it…examples would be when people ask for direction on the road….

  43. Quote

    Balaji – Thanks for your comment.

    Sometimes, the proclamations of politicians are so humorous that nobody believes them. So, no lasting harm done. Car Salespeople though are a different story. Shameless Liars! Who do they think they are, a Prime Minister or something?

    Hey, but people are antsy about oil now. I know I am. Folks are so fidgety now, that they’ll drill any place that purportedly has oil. I have a very oily face now. Not to over-react, but I’m thinking of, you know… ๐Ÿ˜›

  44. Quote

    Karthik – Thanks for your comment.

    Yea. Grandparents do come in handy. My cousin Sowmya (see her comment above) was a great one for that.

    So you think people lie when asked for directions? I think its sheer ineptitude ๐Ÿ™‚ Most Indians can’t give proper directions if their life depended on it.

    Like, I was stuck on an arterial road yesterday & was late for my nephew’s birthday. We made the mistake of asking a guy for directions – bloke mentioned every single landmark in the vicinity, quizzed us to see if we knew that. And gave us some directions. If we had followed his word to a tee, we would have ended up in 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue, AKA The White House. Which would be good if that’s where we wanted to go. Not the poor guy’s mistake that we were obstinate about going to a Chennai hotel ๐Ÿ˜€

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