Friday, October 5, 2012

Idling excellence


Every man ought to excel in something. That was a lesson that was dinned into my head since childhood. Now, rack my brains as I would and put my entire lot of talents under the microscope (actually, I needed the microscope to locate them in the first place), I could not really find one single thing that could prove to be my area of excellence. How then was I to answer that eternal question, “Why was I born?”
Mothers are a boon to mankind. There I was, happily lolling in bed at 11 AM on a Sunday - teeth unbrushed, bowels fully loaded, eyes bleary and postponing the evil hour when I would have to get up to do all sorts of things. My mother walks in, shakes her head in exasperation and says, “God! You would win the first prize for laziness in any competition!” Eureka! I had found my area of excellence!
Can you believe that I read Bertrand Russell merely because he had written an essay “In praise of Idleness”? That essay did not have quite the sort of ideas that I was looking for but I got captivated by his turn of phrase on occasion. For example he, apparently, asked nuns about why they preferred bathing in bathrobes when there was no-one to see them there to which they piously replied, “Ah! You forget the Almighty God!” Russell says, “They obviously think of God as an Omnipotent Peeping Tom who can see through walls but is foiled by bathrobes”. Nifty, isn’t it? Though what sort of person would go to a nunnery on purpose to have a detailed discussion about the nuns’ bathing habits beats me! (Not germane to the topic under discussion? I know – just thought I would mention it!)
The problem with trying to excel in anything is that people just will not let you do so. You cannot even depend on your own family to support you in your aspirations. Try achieving the pinnacle of laziness by turning in a blank answer sheet for a test and your father takes the belt to you. (Ah! Norway! Where were you when I needed you the most?) Why will parents always want their children to succeed in achieving their (the parents’) dreams and not allow the child to pursue its own dreams?
Now you may say that if I had truly wanted to excel, I should have done so despite all obstacles. But then it was not your backside that was getting tanned, was it? Actually there is a grain of truth in what you say – there were people around me who did keep up the standard despite similar encounters with leathern articles. It is just that I found it more strenuous to duck the belt a zillion times every day than to write a few tests once a month!
Growing into adulthood I thought that I would now be able to exercise my talents without restraint. Not really! I mean when even your body does not support you what can you do? When the belly clamors for three meals a day (if that is all you can manage) and the restaurants insist unreasonably on getting paid if they fed me, I had to join a job. Employers also had this quaint notion that giving me a job meant that I was also expected to work at it. As though the grace of my presence had not sufficiently justified my salary! Ah! No-one understands me!
I had never actually given up on my quest till the day I heard this story about one of my distant uncles. (Ah! Before Oprah asks, let me clarify that we Indians keep track of third and fourth cousins of our parents and grandparents – at least up to my generation!) Apparently, if a mosquito sat on his arm and started operations he would call out for his son to come and squash it! Now that is dedication to the ideal of laziness when even your reflexive reactions are under the iron control of your dedication to idling. What chance do I have of overtaking a Karma Yogi (or should it be Nishkarma yogi) like this.
I must start on a quest to find another area to excel in – though my dedication to my earlier quest has rendered me sufficiently lazy to be unable to put much effort into this new quest.

40 comments:

  1. Quite true what you have described here. Complacency does tend to slow us down and hamper any sort of productive work. It is, of course, not necessary to slog it out 9 to 5 to earn a living. One can always pursue one's hobbies and turn it into a full time career.
    Say, that is correct, why do the nuns need to wear robes, anyways with X ray vision one can see everything. I guess this calls for a round of debate with the nuns :p :p :p
    Nice post.

    Regards,

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

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  2. This is the best rant I have ever read! :)
    Just wondering, how did you manage this post, with all the laziness? :P

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  3. Haha! A typical humorous piece from your den!! And laziness is one thing that I am born for too!!!

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    1. Mmm! I will agree about that on the day you allow a mosquito to have its way with you if you cannot find someone else to deal with it :)

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  4. What profound thoughts! How one wishes there was an Akbar or a Krishnadevaraya who could call for a competition to determine the laziest person in the kingdom! And then Suresh could come up with his unique test and prove beyond doubt that he is the lord of laziness! Here is wishing you luck to prove your worth without straining yourself :)

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    1. I remember one Vadivelu comedy scene where he proves how difficult it is for the ordinary person to be idle for any stretch of time ('Summa Irukka mudiyadhu') :) It is truly not easy unless the person is gifted :)

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  5. And that is a truly noble avocation. It is sad how the world conspires against this oldest endearing art even though many would do just that given a chance. Wish there was a way to turn it into a vocation!

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    1. It is only that lazy that need to find the way to turn it into a vocation and they are too lazy to do it :)

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  6. You have got the time to dwell on your laziness and write about it shows that you cannot excel even in this :P

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    1. Did I not tell you I had given up and am trying to find an alternative? :)

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  7. How do you manage to write just about anything despite being so lazy? :) I was laughing out loud on the nuns bathing in bathrobes...hahaha..

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    1. Now, I don't believe you are lazy at all, promptly replying at this hour of the day. :)

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    2. Sad, isn't it? I cannot even excel in the only thing I am capable of! :)

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  8. My husband always says, i wish they came out with a car where you drive while you lie down :D

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    1. I prefer lying down while someone else has to drive :)

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  9. Your my idol, C.S, enshrining the ideal of idleness. Could so relate to this. If you trace back my blog to its beginning, you find the first post to be the very article of Russell that you have mentioned that I have faithfully reproduced on my blog. I was too lazy to write my first post on my own. As you may know even the name of my blog is a dedication to idleness. Or were you too lazy to read the introduction to my blog?

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    1. Mmmm! No! Read them both! Why do you think we get along like a house on fire. Kindred Spirits, that is why!! :)

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  10. I was recalling my mum's hanger instead of dad's belt...but I could not enjoy the laziness as being the eldest kid in the house(read khaandaan) entitles you to renounce laziness.
    Still had fun reading this account and actually questioned myself, Do I excel in anything...I guess blabbering...:P

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    1. I am the eldest too! That did not stop me :)

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  11. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

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  12. wow! absolute enjoyment while reading this rant! And when it comes to laziness, i shall give you tough competition, CS :D

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    1. Ah! Apala! I have given up now that I know I can never reach the pinnacle :)

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  13. Ha ha...Suresh...Good that you dont feel lazy about penning down these things :) God bless you for that :D

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  14. That was a true fun read. So for you pursuit of happiness gets modified into pursuit of laziness :).

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    1. The pursuit of idleness IS the pursuit of happiness for me Rachna :)

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  15. Now why did this post remind me of that movie "Makhi"? I think it was a remake of a South Indian hit. That was one Makhi on the rampage - no signs of laziness there! Must be the sheer genius of imagination. That is an area you excel in.

    You may thank me now :)

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    1. You can consider yourself effusively thanked Ritu :)

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  16. u excel in lighting up our faces every time we read you......... and nothing beats idleness (we get beaten for it though! ) how i wish i could laze around forever..but if wishes were horses.....

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    1. U mean i actually excel at something? Great :)

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  17. "Can you believe that I read Bertrand Russell merely because he had written an essay “In praise of Idleness”? " - SERIOUSLY? :O Oh well, at least you weren't lazy enough to read him! That distant uncle of yours, what did he do for a living, again? I think I just found my true calling! :D

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    1. Competition hotting up - soon idling is going to seem too much like work :)

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