Monday, April 16, 2018

How you ought to live

By now it is no surprise to anyone that the only two grey cells in my brain are not on talking terms with each other. So, I obviously have great difficulty in deciding how I ought to live. Thankfully, though, the world is full of people who spend a lot of time on thinking about and telling you about how you ought to live. Why, some of them are so altruistic that they spare no time to even think of how they ought to live!

It all starts with parents. (Yeah, I am single and have not sat on the other side of the table. So?)  Oh, I am not really going to talk of this 'Brush your teeth in the morning" thing. The fact that my reasoned argument that I never had seen cows queue up at the dentist though they never brushed their teeth was...err...brushed aside still rankles but still...And as for my pleas that going to school was not exactly how I thought I ought to live...(I know! You are wishing heartily that I had succeeded and, thus, never learned to write. You do not need to keep telling me.)

No, I was not going to talk about that. (What was that? I have already talked about that rather too much? Stop heckling, will ya?). There are more important issues to talk about.

You know, when you are a child and have no thought beyond the next chocolate or ice-cream and you get called to meet your mommy's friends, you know what is going to happen. Other than being asked to recite 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' and wiggle your hips to the latest Bollywood hit, that is. You guessed get asked, "What do you want to become when you grow up?" AND you, manfully swallowing all those ideas of becoming an ice-cream vendor (Yeah! I know! I was a effing child, damn it. So what if I thought that the vendor got to eat all the ice-creams he wanted?), say something like 'Pilot', 'Astronaut' or 'Shah Rukh Khan' or "Prime Minister". And then they all go 'Hoo' and 'Haw' and 'Cho Chweet' and that aunty from next door pinches your cheeks and hugs you while you are squirming to get away so that you can play with your friends instead of being played with by your mommy's friends.

If you only knew that is the last time of your life that they are going to ask you that question. I mean, when it is really time to choose what you ought to do, it is all 'Become an Engineer', 'Become a doctor', 'An MBA' and what not with nary of thought of asking you what you wanted to become. And even when someone rarely asks you and you answer, you hardly ever get a 'Cho Chweet', though you CAN do without your cheeks being pinched. THEN it is a litany of why what you want to do is about the most stupid thing to do, ranking next only to the dinosaurs thinking that they could live in ice.

Once you start life off being told what you ought to do, it is rather rich for people to expect that you can decide it for yourself later in life.

But, actually, people do NOT think so, they only think that you can do it for other people. And you do just that all your life...tell other people how they ought to live!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Timely Help

Kaalatthaal seidha udhavi siridheninum gnalatthin maana peridu - Tirukkural

Timely help, however low in value, is worth more than all the world - Loose translation.

There I was, as usual, with a friend asking for advice. (I know, by now you are wondering why I go to the guy since I invariably get the stick but what can I do? All my friends are like that)

"Rohit is so ungrateful, yaar. I mean, you know at yesterday's party to celebrate the success of his venture he was going on and on about some Rs. 50000/= that Shyam had lent him when he was starting out. And not a word about the five lakhs I lent him just a week back."

AND the chap comes out with that tagline at the beginning of this post. What is with these guys, they cannot formulate their own sentences and have to come out with obscure quotes that make no sense. I mean, the idea of the world being worth less than Rs. 5000/= (though they do say that with climate change and all...).

I asked him rather peevishly what he meant and he says, "Well! At that time, no-one was willing to risk lending money to him and Shyam did. Which is why he could even start this venture, which is now such a success. Now, people are queuing, if not you, someone else would have given him."

"Come on! I have given him ten times the money. And I would have given him then but my FD was maturing only in another six months and you know what interest loss would have been there if I had broken the FD then."

"So, you will help only when it is convenient to you not when the other guy needs it. What's the point talking to you anyway? If someone is dying of thirst at your doorstep, you are the sort of guy who will want to finish your shave and morning ablutions, dress up so that you can go out and give him a glass of water. It will not even cross your mind that he may die of thirst before you are done."

"There you go too far. When have I ever shaved, with this beard? AND my idea of dressing is only shoving a T-Shirt over my torso, so..."

His eyes were bulging and throat working convulsively. Before he went down on his haunches and started croaking, I asked, "Are you alright?" while slowly edging towards the door.

Thankfully, the chap recovered though his face looked like a sun-burnt tomato.

Clearing my throat nervously I asked him,"So, you were saying..."

"Listen! Who would the Ambanis respect? The chap who lent them a lakh when Dhirubhai Ambani was trading polyester yarn in his initial days or the banker who lends them thousands of crores now?"

I wanted to ask who that chap was, and whether there was such a chap, but one look at his red face and I stopped. No-one can say I am not concerned about my friends.

"Well?" he asked.

"I think that it must be...err...the banker. After all, the chap would want his money back with interest whereas, you know, bankers..."

There was such a dreadful noise from him that I fled precipitately. Now, I cannot seek any clarification from him...he has apparently been diagnosed with chronic hypertension and been told to avoid all stress. AND, you know, he and his wife seem to have misheard the doctor and assumed he said 'avoid Suresh' when he said 'avoid stress'.

So, now, will someone please tell me why Rohit is right in praising Shyam and not me? I'm sure he is not but if you think so...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Becoming modern

You know, as you keep aging you keep getting dated. The bell-bottoms, which were the acme of fashionable dressing, make people think that you are a clown escaped from a circus. The hair poking out of the neck of your shirt is no longer macho - only a sign of bad grooming identifying you as a chap who does not know the use of wax. The less said about the belly region, the better.

No-one can say that I do not try, though. Ah! No, I have not taken to wax, now, I mean I am actually glad that hair grows somewhere even if not on the head. But in behavior, most certainly I try...I really do. Why even the other day...

I walked into my office and saw my subordinate coming towards me.

"Expectation is the cause of all disappointment", I said with a smile. "Good morning".

The chap had a pained look on his face that I could not account for. Oh! Well! Must be suffering from dyspepsia, I thought, and walked past serenely.

You know how it is...the one chap you can happily live without seeing is the one guy who bumps into you everywhere. So, the next guy to come in my way was my peer and rival. Well, one cannot make it too obvious that you hate the sight of him. Politeness, yes politeness, that's the watchword.

"To know that you do not know is the first step to wisdom", I said politely. "Good morning."

The guy looked furious but he always looks furious when he sees me. Just not good enough an actor to keep his rivalry from warping his face, unlike me.

Who should I bump next into but my boss?

"Assessing what is said without regard to who is saying it is the hallmark of wisdom. Good morning, Sir", I said and went to my seat.

I had barely relaxed with a cup of tea when my subordinate barged in.

"So, I am not getting my promotion now, is that it? I am supposed to keep my expectations low?"

"What? Why...I..."

The door slammed open as my colleague walked in.

"So, I know nothing, do I? You are the wise know-it-all..."

I had barely taken in my breath before the peon came in with the summons from the boss.

"How dare you call me a fool? Just because you were proved right the last time when I overruled your opinion...Here! This will show you who the fool is."

"Out of a job merely because I was trying to become modern", I whined to my friend.

"What had becoming modern got to do with..."

"Well! You know how it is in WhatsApp. All those memes along with the morning wishes? I thought that this was the modern way to wish..."

There was a weird noise, suspiciously like retching, from my friend.

"Why do you want to apply WhatsApp ideas in real life? If someone cracks a joke do you laugh or hold up a smiley?"

Well, I do not know why they do on WhatsApp what they won't do in real life. But...

A more horrid thought crossed my mind. So, in real life, I cannot just say 'ROFL' for a good joke? I would actually have to roll on the floor laughing? Ye Gods!

AND who on Earth really wants to see me actually doing a ROFLMAO?

Monday, March 26, 2018


I may have mentioned this before. I really do have very peculiar notions of most things in life. No wonder whenever I am in a group of people, there is this air of people in a zoo looking at the duck-billed platypus or some such rarity. So, it really is no surprise that what I thought discussions meant was at wide variance from the rest of the world.

The problem, you see, is that I tend to take the meanings of words too seriously. So, yes, I used to think of discussions as happening between people who may or may not have opinions but are inclined to talk to other people to find out whether their opinions are right or whether they needed to change them. I know, I know, that's a pretty stupid idea of what discussions were all about.

I should have known better, I suppose. I mean, I do know that when people get together the main thing that interests them is how THEY impress other people. It is hardly ever about seeing how the others impress them but even THAT is possible. The idea of people actually wanting to LEARN from others to modify their opinions, unless it is something useful like how to make a chicken curry, is so ludicrous as to not be acceptable even in a fantasy trilogy.

If only I had known that, I would have known that whenever someone trots out an opinion, all he expects from me is appreciative noises and "How knowledgeable you are" and "How did you even think of this. Wonderful!" - all without even the remotest tinge of sarcasm in the tone. THAT's a discussion! A contra-opinion? Facts that oppose his conclusions? Are you mad? (Oh! Yes! There are most certainly discussions where there are people who love putting down other people's opinions in order to feel good about themselves. In which case, the following would be said by THEM and not by the guy who set this opinion game going.)

"Oh! If that is what you think" would greet you, if the man has some semblance of politeness.

"Well, obviously you know everything so why am I even trying to tell you things." if the chap feels truly irritated.

"Says the guy who thought that a black hole was a cigarette burn in his shirt" That, yes, would be the obnoxious lout whose only use for a sense of humor is to ridicule others, especially if it seems like they would prove him wrong. Strangely, though, that seems to be the most appreciated sense of humor, which goes to show that being able to look down on someone else for a change is quite a popular thing.

AND, if you ever get into this 'discussion' with the teens, you will get that wonder-word, "Whatever!"

So much for discussions. NOW I have understood what I am supposed to do.  Make appreciative noises . AND then comes technology to mess things up for me.

NOW, in social media, a discussion means groups of people lining up on either side of a fence and metaphorically throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes at each other.

By the time this new definition seeps fully into the real world, and Business starts genetically modifying hens and tomato plants to directly yield rotten eggs and tomatoes to keep up with the demand, I hope I will be the 'late so-and-so'.

What I am worried about is if it also hit the after-life. Then it will be inescapable for eternity.

I sure hope that Hawking is right and there IS no after-life, after all!