Monday, September 23, 2013

Relearning English

I have had a shocking revelation that has caused sleepless nights for me recently. I have realized that I am sorely mistaken in assuming that I know English. No! It is not something to do with SMS English. Those alphanumeric strings, I have concluded, require a translation app which has been installed only in the latest model of humans and it is hopeless for older models like me to attempt to understand.

To understand the depths of my shame you must realize how it feels for you to have brashly attempted to correct people whose command over the language far exceeds your own. My ears burn at the thought of the day I told someone - privately, thank God - that 'improvise' is used only to indicate finding a make-shift solution to a problem, like scotch-taping a leaking pipe till the plumber deigns to make a visit. To think that I had not realized what he knew - that 'improvise' was a more upmarket version of the word 'improve'. Now I, too, wish to improvise my English. (Please do not reject me as a student. I have already learnt to say "One of my friend" and "Many a times" when I had all along been wrongly using them as "One of my friends" and "Many a time") So, could someone please tell me what does one use when one wants to talk about the equivalent of the Hindi 'Jugaad'?

I can hardly rein in my anger at myself for having been so blind. Wait - there I go again making the same mistakes and losing track of hard-won knowledge. It ought to be 'reign' and not 'rein', I think. My obsolete knowledge says that 'reign' mean 'rule' and 'rein' is that thingy which controls the movement of a horse or any other such draft animal. There I was thinking that you can only use 'reign over'  and 'rein in' but, again, I was totally wrong. How do I rein .. err... reign in my tears of mortification?

Of course, it is my age that is to blame. Uh! This relearning thing is rather difficult. I meant 'Off course' here, I think. But, you will agree, it is hard for someone who has always thought 'Off course' to mean 'going off the route' to change over instantly. Now, off course, I need to know what to say for 'going off the route' - other than saying 'going off the route'.

Come on, have I not proved that I am a serious student of new English? Hmm! I have spoiled my CV again, haven't I? Should it be 'Common'? But 'common' is the opposite of 'special', isn't it? (Now, now, do not go insisting on the old English, you bum. Just try to learn what to say when you mean the opposite of 'special'.) Did someone say 'common' is used for 'come on' as a colloquial usage - to denote how it is said? Hmm! That makes it all the more difficult. I mean I have heard people say, "Mittal is speaking" when they meant 'Mittal speaking" and if I started writing it all the way people pronounce I shall need to publish another dictionary to make people understand exactly what I am saying.

There I sit with bated breath waiting for my application to be approved but ..huh..can I ever learn? I mean it is 'baited breath' isn't it? But how does one bait a breath? You bait a hook with a worm to catch fish, you bait a rat-trap with food to catch a rat but what do you bait a breath with (Carbon-dioxide?) and to catch what? (Oh! Wait! Your problem is that you do not keep abreast of the latest scientific findings. You can bait a breath with the smell of toothpaste and catch the girl from the other side of the bus as she comes flying to you drawn by your breath! The problem with you is that I keep waiting with baited breath for you to change and you never do.)

I may have made a mistake here and there but please do not reject my application to learn new English. Common! Off course I am reigning in my impatience and waiting with baited breath to know whether I will get the golden opportunity to improvise my English!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I never really managed to understand this mysterious attribute charisma. To know that is is derived from a word used by Hindi speakers - Karishma - and, probably, owes its origins to that word is no help. It is one thing knowing the meaning and quite another to know what makes a person charismatic.

I mean there is this guy who can walk into office and say,"It is raining outside" - a fact that is more than evident to all of us, who are busily dripping on the office carpet - and make all of us look at him as though he had said something that brightened our day. Now what makes such a weather announcement seem as though all is right with the world, when we are not even farmers, merely because it comes from him?

Some people seem to be natural magnets - and when they come around all the rest cluster around them like iron filings. What makes them magnets is a mystery. People have attributed charisma to looks or to sweet temper - both of which seem unbelievable. I mean, Adolf Hitler was supposed to be charismatic and, for the life of me, I cannot understand that he was particularly handsome or sweet-tempered. It is maybe that peculiar mustache that made him so charismatic. Not that growing one is likely to help you.

And then there are others, who do not fail to get noticed but do not necessarily attract people like the Pied Piper is reputed to have attracted mice (Eeww! What an unnatural accomplishment for a grown man to be honing a talent for!) These are like large lumps of iron dumped into a congregation of iron filings. All the filings look at them as though wondering "Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed that he is grown so great" without even feeling the urge to accost Caesar and verify the means (and I do not mean only physical size).

The majority, of course, belong to the iron filings category. One may get temporarily magnetized and become the center of attraction - as when one gets married or faces some other such calamity - but, by and large, gets attracted by magnets or tries to stare down iron lumps or tries to look aloof as if to claim that he is beyond all such mere vanity.

Me??? I am special. Ever seen that rare being who can walk into a roomful of the chatterati and instantly convert them into Trappist monks observing an inviolable vow of silence? The person who has that unique ability of reminding everyone about appointments that they were about to miss but for the opportune reminder provided by his entrance? The man whose charisma acts on others like a stone thrown in a pool acts on water - causing ripples of people to race each other to the shore? Me - That is who!

What do you mean people like me are not rare? That is merely envy. It just shows how jealous you are of me - as jealous, perhaps, as I feel about people whose charisma works in the normally accepted fashion!

Monday, September 16, 2013

P&M XI - No offense meant

(We are back at Phrases and Meanings again. You can torture yourself with the entire series here)

I have always been fascinated by this story that is told in various versions. The version that I had runs something like this

An old King wanted to get back his youth and, tyrannical as kings could be, declared that he would put all his doctors to death unless they found him a way. The distressed doctors went to their chief pleading him to find a way out of this dilemma. The old doctor came to the king with a vial of medicine and said "Your Majesty! Drink this medicine and, if for the next twenty-four hours, you do not think of mangoes at all you will regain your youth." The King rewarded the doctor handsomely and took the medicine but, to his vexation, found that he could think of nothing but mangoes the whole of the next twenty-four hours thus losing, as he thought, his chance at regaining his youth.

Whenever I hear the phrase, "No offense meant but..." I am reminded of this tale. I have never heard of a more counter-productive phrase than this, specifically when it is used at the beginning. The moment you hear it, you are automatically tuned to seeing whatever comes afterwards as potentially, if not actually, offensive when, without that preamble, you may never have thought of being offended. Why, I daresay that in most cases if you said "No offense meant but you look lovely today" the other person would start thinking, "Ah! Since there is something offensive in this, he must mean that I have never looked lovely till today" or, worse still, "So! He is so surprised that even I can look lovely. What an a******". Drop that phrase and things may be far more pleasant.

The phrase may have more meaning when said at the end - especially when you can see the other person and judge that offense has been taken. Though, I hardly think that saying this is automatically likely to incline the other person to thinking that you really did not mean any offense.

There are variants of this phrase - meant to soothe any possible hurt - and not really serving the purpose. Like "Don't take me otherwise" which automatically inclines the other person into thinking of all the other ways that it can be taken and the most offensive ones at that.

I, particularly, have an aversion to the "maybe it is only me". It sounds, invariably to me, too much like, "Of course it is not only me but who knows what an idiot like you can get into his stupid brain". Or, maybe, it is only me who takes it like this.

Saying something that has the potential to hurt someone is a difficult art and, if you have not mastered it, it is best to avoid doing so. If it is unavoidable, however, these shortcuts are really no help and there is no point in whining, "I said no offense meant and the other person still took offense." Don't take me otherwise, though, for these opinions - maybe it is only me!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Acquiring an Ambition

I have always been pretty confused about the norms of Society. For example, I never really did understand why people looked down upon someone who lost money playing in a Casino but had great respect for someone who did the same in the stock markets. "Gambler!", they said in derisive terms of the former and "Stock market operator!", they said of the latter in tones verging on awe - though both will claim that they have used esoteric mathematics to develop a 'system' to play their respective games. Warren Buffet will be eulogized by the world while the man who breaks the bank at Las Vegas will not. Going by popular notions, he may probably earn himself a cement waistcoat where Buffet is treated as a guru.

If you won money in a lottery, they dismiss your achievement as mere luck but if the property you were hoodwinked into buying some ten years back suddenly became worth its square inches in gold they praise your acumen. Lacking the full quota of grey cells, I have always failed to understand the subtle difference between the two.

Naturally, this made it difficult for me to pick an ambition to pursue. If you cannot even make out the goal-posts nor can you identify whether you need to score goals or make runs, it is rather difficult to set a course for yourself. So, I followed the regular course of anyone in doubt - I consulted someone. The one big advantage of consulting is that you have someone else to blame for the subsequent disasters.

One of my friends was held up as the foremost example of a man with ambition and a dedicated pursuit of it. I went to him with all the reverence due to an oracle and put up my problem to him. And this is what he had to say.

* * *

You know that my dad was rich and he left me a humongous sum of money. So, naturally, I only wanted to ensure that all that money did not rust away in the banks and started spending it with joy. I had not realized the importance of having an ambition till my neighbors started talking about me as a useless wastrel. I, too, consulted a friend.

He asked me what if I had any ambition. I told him that my ambition was to wake up in the morning and drink myself silly till the night. He scoffed at me and said that it was a stupid waste of time ingesting that garbage and not an ambition. I could have taken any insult to myself, but I could not take that insult to the noble God, Bacchus, and, so, I left him in a huff.

My problem still remained. One of my friends was known as an offbeat achiever and I thought he would have a more sympathetic approach to my problem. I asked him to tell me about how he became known as ambitious. He said that he pursued his passion - though it was offbeat - without regard to what Society said and, now, they respected him. I told him that I, too, had this offbeat passion to drink myself silly every day and, despite having diligently followed it for the last three years, Society still did not respect me. He laughed derisively and said it was an indulgence and not a passion.

I tell you this thing is crazy. You are not free to select your own ambition. Society has all sorts of nitpicking rules about what will be considered an ambition and what will not. Unless your aim fits into those rules, they will not validate it as an  ambition. Why, if you played computer games all day, you are merely fooling around but, if someone in China earns a salary for doing it and piling up points for some American to start his game from the more difficult levels, that Chinese chap was being ambitious. Ridiculous, I tell you. For a moment I thought of just giving up on acquiring an ambition and live as I pleased. The problem is that I am - like the rest of us - hard-wired to worry about what the neighbors thought of me and cannot rest happy unless they are satisfied.

I thought long and hard, let me tell you. Then one fine day, this brilliant idea floated up on top of the Scotch. I told the world that I had decided to become the world'd foremost expert on liquors and was trying out every single liquor in the world in order to gain a complete command of the subject. You will not believe the results.

I still drink myself silly from dawn to dusk - with full Social approbation - and my neighbors now say, "Ah! He was wasting his time till he developed his passion. Now, look at the single-minded dedication with which he pursues it. Everyone must learn from him." Why, they even come bearing bottles from distant lands that their sister-in-law's niece's cousin brings over in order to further my ambition. And, let me promise you, I do not slack an instant in the pursuit of my ambition.

* * *
That was most certainly an eye-opener for me. So, all you had to do was make what you want to do seem like something that Society would want you to do and, presto, you had an ambition. The issue was simple - instead of trying to decide what Society would want you to do, just pick on what suited you best and think of how you can dress it up for Society and there was your ambition.

Now, the problem is that all I wanted to do was loll around in bed. What do I say it is for? I cudgeled my brains only to find that finding my brain was far more difficult than cudgeling it. I may well have been resigned to a life without ambition but for the coincidence of seeing a TV program of someone eating glass bottles.

Now, why did I not think of something so obvious? If you wanted to dress up anything, however silly, as an ambition, all you had to do was be in training for the 'Guinness Book of World Records"

So, now you know my ambition. I am training to set a record for the longest time spent in bed!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

P&M X - All Right

(We are back at Phrases and Meanings again. You can torture yourself with the entire series here)

There are those phrases which make you wonder why the Human race ever bothered to invent language - and a multitude of them at that. I mean, if the entire meaning to be derived is entirely based on facial expressions, tone of voice and context, why bother to use the words at all?

If there is one prime example of such a phrase, it is 'All Right'. It can mean what it purports to mean sometimes but, more often than not, it means that things are not all right at all and how much that fall short of being all right can be gauged by all those non-verbal cues.

For example, you have a telephonic argument with your wife and she slams the phone down with an "All Right!" Do you think that you have convinced her with the scintillating logic of your argument or worn her down by your persistence? That phrase in this context only means, "Alright Buster, just get home tonight and I will teach you what it means to argue with me."

There you are in a meeting vehemently putting forth your point in a meeting and your boss says, "All right!" You feel you have impressed your boss with your acumen? Ah! The folly of youth! All your boss means is, "Alright lad, we will see how much misery you can stand in the coming days. Argue with me, will you?" The problem is that you read that slogan "The Boss is always right" on the wall behind his desk and assumed it to denote his sense of humor - when it was merely a reminder to you to watch your behavior.

At home with your spouse you are in your element arguing against what you are being asked to do. Merely because it is a matter of getting you off your ass - which will otherwise take a crane to do, your spouse stomps off with an "All right!" and you feel immensely satisfied at having gained your point. Little do you know that this time it means,"All right, you bum, let us now see how you get me to do anything at all in future."

There is one "All Right!" that is the most dangerous of all. If you ever get to hear it in that tone of voice, rest assured that nothing will be all right with your life from that moment on.

So, you do not believe me or like what I said? All Right!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

In Seventh Heaven

I have always loved this idea of being in Seventh Heaven and, by and large, all it takes me to be in that state is to have absolutely nothing that requires doing. Even in this retired state of mine, alas, there are things to do - most notably that damnable Income Tax return which plagues me once a year. Still, it is not a bad deal being in seventh heaven for the most part of the year, I suppose.

The funny thing is that religions, which are reputed to remain at loggerheads with each other in all interactions and to tend to see the followers of the others as imps from Hell if not the Devil incarnate, are all agreed on the existence of seven heavens. Surprising that there is such unanimity among people who are seen to otherwise claim that the Sun rose in the West merely to contradict the others saying that it rose in the East.

Judaism claims the existence of Seven Heavens - Vilan, Raqiya, Shehaqim, Zebul, Ma'on, Makhon and Araboth. Islam, too, agrees about seven heavens - Rafi, Qaydum, Marum, Arfalun, Hay'oun, Arous and Ajma'. Two major religions, whose followers have the public reputation of being perpetually at loggerheads with each other seem to have a shared vision about, at least, the number of heavens.

Closer home, Hinduism also has its seven heavens. The famed Gayatri Mantra - Om Bhoor Bhuva Svah - lists the first three and the expanded version actually lists all seven. Well - actually, the heaven part starts later but seventh heaven is most certainly present. In order, we have Bhoorloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapa loka and Satyaloka. Bhoorloka is the land of mortals - us, so technically there are only six heavens but the seventh loka translates to seventh heaven!

Now, if only we have unanimity in considering everyone as children of the same god. That would truly be seventh heaven.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

The sevens of marriage

Hindu marriage vows are taken in the saat phere - the seven circum-ambulations of the Holy fire. They are more prayers than vows. The first phera is with a prayer is for availability of nourishing food through their lives, the second is for health, the third is for Wealth, the fourth is for mutual love and respect, the fifth is for good progeny, the sixth is for a long life of peace and the seventh is for togetherness, companionship, loyalty and mutual understanding.

I searched and searched and could not find this '... and obey' being required from the wife in this process. Alas! That put me off marriage - lacking nimbleness of brains, that 'obey' was about the only way I could come anywhere close to holding my own in a marital relationship - not that it has been any help to any of the others who had tacitly assumed that it was a part of the marriage vows.

There is, however, a different seven that comes into operation these days in love marriages. I make no claim that this is universal but it certainly seems wide-spread.

1. At First Sight - "Ek ladki ko dekha tho aisa lagaa"
2. At first meeting - "Tum aa gaye ho, noor aa gaya hai"
3. After being accepted - "Hum donon do premi duniya chor chale"
4. After a period of love - "Shayad meri shaadi ka kayal"
5. Post wedding - "Suhaag raat hai, Ghunghat uta raha hoon main"
6. Five years after marriage - "Kya apna tamanna thi, Kya saamne aaya hai"
7. Ten years after - "Kasme vaade pyaar wafa sab baaton hai baaton ka kya"

I plead indulgence from the ladies. Hindi cinema has been male-centric and I am unable to find good equivalents for the women. (And my apologies too to those of you who do not know these Hindi songs)

Marriage is also supposed to be a saat-janam ka rishta (A relationship lasting seven births). The above love story starts with being indignant about having only seven births with the loved one, goes through to feeling that the relationship is just about good enough for seven births and ends with hoping that the current one IS the seventh birth for which the marriage was supposed to last.

I am sure that YOUR marriage is not like this one and you want life with the same partner to last till you get off the wheel of existence totally. But I cannot keep worrying about you. I need to figure out whether this seven births business applies for bachelors as well and, if it does, do I want this to be the first of seven or the last.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vexing Colors

Never have I been let down as badly as when I was taught about VIBGYOR in school. There I was thinking once I knew to distinguish between Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red, I would be all done with learning about colors. True, there is this strange omission of White and Black but then I could accommodate two more readily. After all, even a rainbow is not perfect.

True that I could not differentiate between Violet and Indigo unless I saw both colors together but, in time, I felt that I could possibly manage that feat. Hitherto, of course, I have barely been able to manage to identify Blue, Red and Green but I am sure that, in time, I could manage that difficult ambition of mine. (No! I am not color-blind. No! The doctor who certified that does not need his head examined.) There were also hot disputes between me and my sis about some color which she called dark orange and I felt was light red but such instances still did not touch the edges of my confidence about mastering colors.

Life teaches you to beware of over-confidence. Came the time when I started moving with women (as opposed to girls who, as every boy will agree, are silly creatures whose opinions do not count. And, no, I am not keen on learning what girls thought of boys) and, God, what is with all those shades of color? I mean did You really have to make so many shades of each damned color? Did no-one ever talk to You about minimalism? If You really had to do all that, however did You manage to finish and rest on the seventh day? Had You worked on the seventh day as well would You have managed to give men the ability to distinguish between all those shades which look roughly the same?

Here I was cursing the fact that I could not distinguish between shades being a mere man and a male friend dances in and talks glibly of azure and cerulean; auburn and amaranth; sepia and taupe and who knows what else. Am I not to even have the consolation that my inability is merely a consequence of my gender? I honestly wished that his wife had been around - he may have dried up once he knew someone knowledgeable was around to know whether he was right.

Be that as it may, I wish people would stop talking about seven colors. There seem to be seven gazillion and counting and I just do not want to know about it any more.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The seven of music

I have always loved listening to music but never had the ear to appreciate the nuances. Ever since I took up listening to Carnatic Music I have longed to join that throng of people who listen to the first three notes of the rendition and exclaim knowledgeably, "Ah! Abheri" or some such name of a raga. Sadly for me, all I can manage is "I liked it" thereby labeling myself that most crass of people - the "I know what I like" brigade.

Well - if I could not recognize ragas I could at least get into the math of it. Idle curiosity had always existed about how the seven swaras - Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni - could give rise to multiple sampoorna ragas (meaning ragas containing all the seven notes) particularly when the swaras had also to be sung in the same order. I mean if I had seven things and I also had to arrange all of them in only one order, I could only have one arrangement, right?

It is later I learnt that these seven swaras are actually to be used on a scale of 12 notes. Once you thought of it as arranging seven items in twelve slots according to preset rules, the possibility of multiple arrangements seemed credible.

The first of the twelve had to be Sa and the and the eighth had to be Pa. Either the sixth or the seventh could be used for  Ma. So, between these three swaras you had only two possible arrangements.

The game gets interesting - or boring, depending on where you stand on permutations and combinations - when it comes to Ri and Ga. The four notes after Sa (second to fifth on your scale of 12) can be used for these two swaras and, of course, Ga can only be played on a note subsequent to Ri. Thus, if the second note is used for Ri, you have three options (3rd to 5th) for Ga; if the third note is used for Ri, you have two options (4th and 5th) for Ga and if the fourth note is used for Ri you have only the option of the fifth for Ga. Thus, between Ri and Ga, you have six alternative arrangements.

The same thing applies Dha and Ni with respect to the 9th to 12th notes on your scale. So, you have another six arrangements for these two swaras. Thus, the total possible sampoorna ragas is 2 x 6 x 6 = 72, which is the basis of the Melakarta system of classifying Carnatic Music ragas.

Of course, you do have ragas with six swaras, five swaras etc. (4 and below tend to be rare to non-existent since the output tends more to cacophony than symphony) leading to an infinity of ragas. These ragas are called 'janya ragas' since they are considered to be born of a Melakarta raga (Sampoorna raga as above) from which one or more of the swaras are shorn. In this context, the concerned Melakarta raga is called a 'Janana raga' - the parent raga.

Having dazzled you all with my 'command' over the lexicon of music let me go back to wondering about how one identifies ragas from the singing.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The days of the week

Another product of my non-productive curiosity is the reason for the names of the days of the week. I mean I can understand that Sunday is probably Sun's day and Monday is probably Moon's day as is Saturday Saturn's day. But, where do Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday come from?

All these four days are named of the Germanic Gods. Thanks to the recent spate of myth-based movies, people seem rather familiar with Thor and Loki at least. Well! Tuesday is named after Tiu (or Tyr) the Germanic God of war. Wednesday is Woden's day (Woden is Odin) named after the Germanic king of Gods. Thor is, of course, the God for whom Thursday - Thor's day - is named. Friday is Freya's day - the Venus-equivalent in Germanic lore.

There is almost identity in the planets after which the days are named in India as well. Sunday is named after the Sun; Monday after the moon and Tuesday is based on Mars in India as well - as is Friday named after Venus and Saturday after Saturn. The Germanic lore differentiates between the King of Gods (Odin) and the Thunderer (Thor) - so, it could be assumed that Woden is Mercury and Thor is Jupiter which would be identical to Indian names for those days. At best, these two days have been inter-changed.

By the way, I knew of all this even when the Internet was not even a blip on the horizon so I owe nothing to Google for this information. In fact, there is a whole lot of interesting words for which the roots are in myth, which I explored in an earlier post - Etymology and Mythology.

For example why is January January or May May? That, as school teachers are wont to say, is beyond the scope of the current syllabus!

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

A seven day week?

All through school I have been remarkable for my lack of curiosity. If education is the process of stimulating the curiosity of the student, I qualify among the most uneducated people that has been the misfortune of any school to turn out. Yet, I am periodically afflicted by curiosity about the most absurd of things.

Why is it that a week has seven days? In a world remarkable for people finding almost any flimsy excuse to violently disagree about anything, why is there such a unanimous acceptance since eons about this idea of a seven-day week? It is not even as though we are born with seven fingers making it easy to count up to seven and no more - else we would have adopted base seven math instead of the base ten math that we do use.

Perhaps it is because we are all lunatics - insofar as we all started off following the lunar month of 28 days. If you wanted to break down this number to smaller manageable proportions you had a choice of 2, 4, 7 and 14. So, unless you wished to spend five minutes to count back to some point and say, "13 days back" instead of "About two weeks back" in a jiffy, you had the choice of

1. Fourteen 2 day weeks in the month.
2. Two 14 day weeks in the month.
3. Seven 4 day weeks in the month.
4. Four 7 day weeks in the month.

The first choice, of course, must have been quite popular with the workers. With one day off per week, they would only have to work half the time. The problem, of course, would be with people who needed two days off per week. These people would have starved to death, perched on a tree with fruit hanging in front of their noses, because they would have to wait for a working day that would never come in order to do the job of picking the fruit and eating it.

The second choice would have been the employers' favorite. It is well-known that the employers of yore were wildly upset about night - and the need for sleep - coming to the working classes as much as it did to them. A fourteen day week with just one day for Church would have been just the ticket.

If they could not get that ideal 2-day week, a 4-day week would have been all right for the workers. It is the sad tale of the world that what suits one does not suit the other and the employers were quite put out by the idea of getting work done only 75% of the available time at best.

Thus, as in everything else in the world, a 7-day week was probably the compromise that left everyone moderately unhappy.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sweet and Sour

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 41; the forty-first edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "SWEET AND SOUR"
Nita was smiling as she exited her boss' room along with her colleague Vinay.

"I don't understand you, Nita. Up to now he has been praising your work and you came out poker-faced. Today he rubbishes your work and you seem happy"

"Now I know that his praise all this while was real"

Vinay looked at her incredulously. Nita said nothing more. How could she explain that it was only the squeeze of lemon that made it possible to relish sugared water?

You get both sweet and sour in any relationship. It is the sour that makes it possible to enjoy the sweet.
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 13

Save this sinner

So this is what death was all about? Standing in front of a white-clad radiant being, I was wondering what would come next.

"You shall now be judged and sent to Heaven or Hell based on how you fare on the Seven deadly sins"

"Here! Hey! Wait a minute. I am Hindu and I do not think I am covered under these statutes"

The being morphed into a dark god bearing a mace sitting on an immense buffalo.

"Let us get on with the judgment"

"So, no Seven deadly sins, right?"
"Wrong! Now for the first sin - Wrath!"
"No way! I am a placid sort of chap. Ask anyone"
"Oh! So what was that diatribe about some comment on..."
"Say! Listen Buster! What is this? That nincompoop had the gall to criticize my writing. Which red-blooded.."
"Wrath!" said the being with finality and I spluttered to a silence.

"Next - Gluttony. Remember the time you sneaked the sweet dish from your neighbor?"
" Come on dude! I was hungry."
"After 10 tandoori rotis and half a kilo of biryani?" said the being in disbelief.
"What can I say? I have a good appetite", I said modestly.

"Next! Sloth"
"Hey come on! Can't a chap even get his forty winks without you getting on his case?"
"Who was it who slept twenty-six straight hours and regretted waking up because his hunger would not let him sleep longer?"
"Oh! Alright! You would think that a chap who does nothing is doing no damage but what do I know? That's a sin too!"

"Next - Greed!"
"Here! Hey! I never was greedy. Never went grubbing for money, never.."
"Who was it that fought to get hold of a book, which he never did read, rather than cede it to his friend who desperately wanted to read it?'
"Uh! Chief! What's this? I mean Greed - for this? Not fair"
"Greed!" he said with finality.

"Everyone knows I am an humble chap. Just ask.."
"Who went about waxing eloquent about the idiocy of someone else's criticism of his writing?"
"Hey! Man! You already covered it under wrath"
"That shows Pride too!"

"Ah! Now I suppose you will say that I have been green-eyed whenever I saw someone getting more readers than me"
"Bingo" said the being with relish.

"Hang on a minute! You cannot mean that. You really mean even Lust is a sin?"
"Yes! What do you have to say?"
"Next Sin please"
"You plead guilty?"
"If guilty is what you choose to call it. Just get on with it"

"We are through with the Seven deadly sins. You are guilty of all and are sentenced to Hell. However..."

I looked up in hope.

"There is an unfortunate hitch. We designed Heaven and Hell assuming that a certain proportion would land in Heaven. You people almost invariably deserve only Hell so there is a lack of accommodation there. Till such time as the renovations are carried out and additional imps recruited, you shall be temporarily lodged in Heaven."

Great! If they planned renovations like roads are planned in India, they will never get ahead of the inflow. I could be permanently in Heaven!

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st - 7th September 2013