Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The year that was

I have seldom been the sort to feel any great expectations from the end of one year and the start of another. A cow placidly chewing cud is unlikely to be recollecting the last year's chewed cud or look excitedly forward to chewing cud the next year. That, roughly, sums up my attitude to life.

Occasionally, though, there are those years that impose themselves on me. Mostly, they make me want desperately for them to end and hope that the change in calendar will, like a wand waved, bring all the hassles of the year to a grinding halt. The current year has the remarkable distinction of joining the ranks of such years in my lifetime.

2014 has been a year when either I have been inflicting my presence on people in other cities or when people from elsewhere have graced my house with their presence. Almost non-stop, actually. No sooner than have waved farewell to a friend than I have either packed for departure the next day or have had a phone call about the imminent arrival of another friend. The problem with this was that getting accustomed to company on a continuous basis is not good for my mental health. If the next year balances out the average by rendering a total dearth of guests, I would feel particularly bereft. It is thus, of course, that human beings kill the pleasure of any moment by worrying about a future absence.

There are other things that I would rather have absent in my life. 2014 was also the year when ALL the devices in my house took turns to die on me. No sooner than I had set the desktop right than the laptop decided to conk off. Just as I replace my microwave oven, the mixie calls it a day. I replace the burnt coil of a fan and three of my CFL bulbs head for the grave. The taps take turns to start leaking, almost as if they were in a relay race. AND, all of these happen JUST as I am expecting guests (and, going by last year's frequency, there was hardly a time when I was not) making me scramble around, instead of my usual practice of waiting on it till I get habituated to living without it.

The year 2015 is hardly likely to start any better - since there is the small matter of holding a requiem for a dead inverter battery, replacing a couple of burnt out bulbs, having the RO filter replaced and changing a couple of taps - all of which chose to die on me just before I left for Chennai for the Music season. After that, I hope that the objects in my house will allow me to take them for granted instead of holding my heart in my hands every time I switched on something or opened something else.

And, now, let me close this rant before my laptop decides that 'bad things' should come in threes too and dies on me again!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Mahabharat tale - The Brahmin and the Butcher (GP for Alka Narula)

Back in the Padmasan and again pontificating on the wisdom of the sages of yore. Alka Narula is again hosting me on her blog. And the exposition is still about the surprising attitudes in our epics towards caste discrimination and, indeed, about how the caste of a person is to be determined.

This is a tale of how a Brahmin learned from a Butcher. You can read it here - The Brahmin and the Butcher

Friday, December 26, 2014

School Reunion Again

Reunion time again! P.Suresh, Subroto and Anand had organized the reunion at Alankrita Resorts in Hyderabad, with the backing of Suchitra Ella (Naidu, that was). Suchitra, who with her husband had founded Bharat Biotch,  had negotiated the resort and made all the travel arrangements in Hyderabad.

The reunion had started in the train for the eight of us who traveled together to Hyderabad by the Charminar Express. Gautam, Subhadra, B. Ramesh, G.Lakshmi and her husband, Selvam, Devashis Ghosh and I were together, giggling and shrieking like school kids. Luckily no-one from the compartment came and complained about fifty-year-olds creating a ruckus. Luckily for them, that is, or who knows we may have put a thumb to our noses, waggled our fingers and stuck a tongue out at them. Except Ramesh that is (the Canadian dentist NOT the one who runs up mountains for light relief, who featured in the Mustang trek series) - but that was because he was too busy running in his mind all the arrangements for the video conference that had to be set up to allow all those batchmates in far-flung areas who had failed to turn up for the meet.

The first program of day one was a visit to Bharat Biotech and to a temple thereafter. I, unfortunately, was too sleepy to make the trip (AND, as anyone who knows me knows, the sight of any office puts me to sleep), so I had dropped off when the group was all set to leave. That part of the reunion, therefore, is a secret from me as was the gift that Suchitra Ella gave each member of the visiting delegation!

The evening was spent along with Ramesh, fiddling around to find the absentee classmates from the USA. We did manage to snag Kumaraguru - but then, considering that HE was the most enthusiastic of the whole lot of us, that was no miracle.

After a sumptuous breakfast,we departed the next day to the Golconda fort. Bus trips, as everyone knows, is a bane particularly for people whose lower backs send frequent SMSes about their age - but not this time. Time had reversed itself for us and it was as much fun as any school trip had ever been - more, in fact, because there was no school teacher to call out "Silence, Children". Pratibha's mom was around, representing THAT age group but, as we all knew, she loved her bit of fun as much as everyone of us did. P. Suresh showed an unexpected talent for dance, possibly inspired by the presence and company of Suchitra Sarede (Narain, that was) and, also possibly by the apt choice of the song by S. Nalini. (OR, maybe, I mistook their writhing in pain - by my rendering of the song - for a dance?)

The group photographs were all at the Golconda fort. We went in with a guide, who spoke so much like one of our school teachers that it reminded us of school all over again. Any time now, we were expecting him to say, "If you talk, I will kneel down" as one of our teachers was wont to say. He, luckily, escaped that mishap since, now that we did remember every now and then that we were adults, we may probably have insisted on his keeping that promise! We did go around the lower ramparts but neatly avoided climbing to the top citing a lack of time. THAT part of our childhood has come in handy all our lives - giving reasonable excuses for not doing what we did not want to do.

After lunch, it was time to relax and catch up on each others' lives. Not that much catching up was needed for most of them, since they seem to have updated each other daily, from the time they brushed their teeth to the time they started snoring. The camaraderie of the last time was still there and everyone relaxed and rejoiced in those rare times when letting your hair down (ONLY metaphorically in my case, as with a few others of the balder sex) was not merely safe - it was de rigeur!

The evening was the time of the video conference. Kumaraguru, B.S. Murali, M.S.Lakshmi and Radha joined in first followed later by Balakumar and, I hear, by Amarnath too. Then followed a session of 'Guess who I am?' with the US guys (Radha, in particular). We, in India, were lucky, since Radha appeared in a window by herself with her name else none of us would have guessed who she was, except those who had seen her recently. So, we could have our fun with our own inabilities nicely hidden away.

After a brief spell of Antakshari across the seas, Balakumar - our Hind Ratna awardee of this year - joined in. For a while, there was some conversation between us here and them there. Suddenly, though, the video conference had turned into a reality show with the US lot holding a meet of their own with us guys watching the show on TV. (Nice of us, wasn't it, to arrange a meet between them?) Being no aficionado of reality shows and finding that the bottle of single malt was beckoning us from the room, M.K. Bala, Murali and I skedaddled. Gautam joined us later and, then, we came to know that Amarnath had been woken up - with the hangover of last night's movie - and had joined the reality show.

We checked out on day three. Half the lot had, in fact, either departed the day before or the morning of day three. The truncated group then visited Birla mandir (Gautam stoutly refused saying that he knew of Shiv Mandirs and Vishnu Mandirs, but had never heard of a deity called Birla) and, then the Husain Sagar. The speed-freaks - Gautam, Pratibha, her husband Raja and daughter Padmini took a speed boat trip around. The rest, including me, went by the ferry to the island to look at the immense Buddha statue from up close.

On our return, Subroto proved a real hero. There is this mono-track on which trolleys carrying people on a fun ride runs. This track, unfortunately, just cuts across the paths where people walk in and out with the only protection being a sentry who warns you when a trolley is on its way. When we were coming back, a child ran across just as her mother was looking for something in her bag. P. Suresh and I just managed warning cries as a trolley came rushing in. Before it could hit the child, Subroto had run forward and scooped up the child and managed to jump back with the trolley missing him by inches.

After a visit to Shilparamam - which Gautam, Devashis, Subroto and I converted to a Paradise Biryani visit - we got back to the Railway Station where Venkatesh joined us after a visit to his uncle. The journey back was fun enough but, needless to say, did not have the same excitement as the journey forth.

But then, we will meet again in 2017, so where is the need to pull long faces? Except, of course, for those guys who have missed it every time till now!

Pic: By S. Venkatesh, as far as I know

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sabha Rage

I have always had a regret. Being a non-driver, I have sorely missed experiencing that adrenaline rush of road-rage. I have always had to sit in gape-mouthed admiration, when people yell at the chap before them for being immovable while simultaneously screaming at the honking idiot behind for his stupidity in not realizing that vehicles could not move till the traffic lights turned green. The absolute pitch of impartial rage that gets wild at the chap overtaking from the left, and sees red at the chap who wants to overtake from the right, is something that I have always wanted to experience for myself. Such a transforming experience it must be, since I have seen a chap who would not say 'Boo' to the proverbial goose really gets fancy with his swear-words when he is behind a wheel.

I still have not reached the exalted heights of road-rage, maybe, but I think I have acquired a nodding acquaintance with the first cousin. To my knowledge, I seem to be among the very few people who have met this strange species - Sabha rage.

This meeting, as you could have guessed readily, happened in my visits to the Carnatic music concerts in Chennai in December. Imagine sitting in a sabha (if I must translate, a sabha is a sort of culture club which organizes concerts but the word also stands for the auditorium in which the concerts take place), getting ready to be carried away by the melodious rendering of an alapana (the preliminary exposition of a raga - 'alap' for the Hindustani aficionados) and managing only to hear this group of people sitting behind you indulging loudly in guessing games about what the raga could be. I am not normally of a murderous temperament but, if I had been possessed of a gun like almost every American teenager seems to be these days, I would certainly not have been answerable for the consequences. "Enraged man mows down music disrupters" would probably have been the screaming headlines of the day and Arnab Goswami would have had a field day trying to find out, on behalf of India, why people were being allowed to conduct Carnatic concerts considering the inherent danger of the procedure.

And then there are the children. God knows I never have understood why people HAVE children in the first place but this one truly beats me. WHY bring them to a music concert at an age when they can hardly stay still for an instant even while watching a Rajnikant movie? AND the little devils will start fidgeting and loudly complaining exactly when the music is really getting to you. Sabha rage against this happening is equally divided between the parents who unleash these nuisances on the rest and the children for their exquisite timing in disrupting proceedings. I never ever thought of myself as capable of killing a child times...

Did I forget the chap who seemed to have come to the concert for the specific purpose of coughing in my ear? Twenty coughs a minute the whole three hours of the concert! Not that he was unaware that, in a concert, you needed a medley of notes - so, he filled the interval between the coughs with throat-clearing and nose-blowing (Before you put your oar in with 'you got your concert anyway', let me tell you that it was not HIS concert I had come to enjoy). The thing, though, is that I am unable to decide whether I ought to assassinate this guy or that other one. The one to whom I complained of this guy and who said, "What is the poor guy to do? If he had a cold, he probably could not control himself." Anyone with the brains of a slug would understand that one is not complaining about the chap's inability to stifle his cough, but his intransigence in not taking himself AND his cough out of the concert hall. After the first half-an-hour, it should have been clear to him that he would be unable to enjoy the concert - unless his idea of enjoyment was to spoil it for everyone around him.

The irony of the whole affair is that I am in the concert, listening to music (or trying to) that is supposed to elevate you can calm your emotions and I end up with a species of inchoate and violent rage that I never have experienced elsewhere. Understandable I suppose. It is like you are extremely thirsty; someone hands you a glass of water and, just as you are about to drink, someone else jogs your elbow and causes you to spill all the water. THAT instant of rage is just what this is all about. You are about to let go of all your mundane problems and let yourself go on a peaceful wave of melody and...'MOMMY! I want to go home! NOOOOOOW!"

After I hit home, the rage is gone and I start laughing at myself. It is not as though that group or that child was doing all this of a purpose to mess with your head. The discussion is probably how THEY enjoy the concert; the mother can hardly give up ALL her interests till the child becomes manageable, if it ever does; and what does a child know about how its behavior affects others. (Hmm! All this empathy does not extend to the chronic cougher - though I am veering around to thinking that the other guy is the one I shall take out my murderous rage on)

All this empathy, this milk of human kindness sloshes around me till I hit the sabha for the next concert and then...Well! It is just like a driver with his road rage!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Do I like writing?

The more I deal with the world of writing, the less confident I feel about whether I really like writing. Somehow, I had always had this feeling that a love for an art like writing is somewhat like the love for doing any other thing - not as in doing things in order to GET something you like but as in LIKING the thing that you do.

I have seen people who enjoy cooking, say. They may like cooking but they feel the enthusiasm to plan and cook elaborate meals only when they expect to be serving an appreciative audience. I am yet to meet someone who cooks an elaborate six-course meal, and take pleasure in merely having done it, with no-one to eat it. When it comes to times when the cook has only himself to feed, the likelihood is a simple meal or even just a cup of noodles. It is someone who likes EATING, and also knows how to cook, who is more likely to cook elaborate meals for himself, if at all there is any such person who would go to the trouble.

Apparently, someone interested in art is of a different mindset altogether. He puts together ideas, events and phrases merely for the pleasure of doing it - if he were a writer, that is - and, if any more pleasure was needed, he would read and savor it all by himself. Readers may also be grudgingly invited but the man is actually doing it all for himself - art for art's sake, you know.

Which is why it seems to me that I have no right to call myself a writer. I react exactly like the cook. I feel the enthusiasm to write only when I have an audience or expect to do so. Not the same as writing FOR an audience - THAT means that, to carry the cooking metaphor, adding twice the salt that you would normally do if you think that THAT is what will please the eater. I mean more the likes of cooking what I like cooking, but cooking it ONLY when I think someone who appreciates it may turn up to eat it.

The only things I write for myself are things like "Do not forget to pay the electricity bill tomorrow, you dummy" and things of supreme literary importance like that. When it comes to writing anything else, I see no fun just in writing it. I mean I have already had the fun when I thought about it, so why bother to type it in, and save it in a document if no-one else is going to come around to enjoy reading it? Which is why, probably, I should never ever call myself a writer - I just do not have the divine passion to pour out words on paper/electronic device, without regard to the possibility of anybody else ever laying an eye on it.

Maybe it is because I attempt to write humor. There is nothing more pathetic than a humorist telling a joke to himself and going 'HaHaHa' about it, with sepulchral silence all around him. Maybe that is what accounts for the fact that there are so few humorists acclaimed as litterateurs in the history of literature. Humorists, perforce, have to be Philistines - ever seeking an audience - while the rest can soulfully pour out their words just for the pleasure of writing, without a single person sneering at them.

Now that we are all agreed that I cannot really like writing, I can proceed with writing - and seeking an audience for it - without regard to having to live up to the label of a writer!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Artist's creativity vs Audience expectation - T.M. Krishna

Art forms flourish based on the creativity of the artistes. If the creative endeavors of artistes are too closely trammeled, it could end up stultifying the art itself - since any creative endeavor needs an atmosphere that welcomes change to flourish. The obverse of this is the fact that art flourishes only when it communicates to a large audience for all art is, inherently, a mode of communication. People, though, are normally averse to change and, thus, any change attempted by the artiste is bound to face opposition.

Thus, any art flourishes as an exquisite balancing act - one that allows creative freedom to the artiste while simultaneously meeting audience expectations. This, in effect, means that the creative freedom of the artiste shall, by and large, lie in pushing the boundaries rather than in a wholesale redrawing of the boundaries. When the boundaries are sought to be redrawn, the endeavor is always fraught with tension and the risk of failure is high.

One of the foremost Carnatic musicians of the age - T.M. Krishna - is currently in the process of trying to redraw the boundaries of the way Carnatic music is performed on stage. His points relating to the attitude towards women vocalists and to the treatment of instruments like the Nadaswaram. Points well taken and needing some change.

My brush with T.M. Krishna's unorthodoxy, though, comes as a ignorant rasika of the oeuvre. I cannot really say that the freedom for the artiste to cut short a concert to half the scheduled time appealed to me. One does understand, and recognize, that an artiste may not always be inclined to practice his art. A painter or writer, for example, can take a break and get back to it when he feels he can give his best. When it comes to performances on stage, though, there is a problem. The least of audience expectations that a performer needs to meet is the time for which the performance is held. People do choose where they spend their time and, if you make them rue their choice by not meeting even a basic expectation, you are doing no service to the art. This, in his defense, I need to say happened last year.

T.M. Krishna has gained an reputation for setting the entire concert procedure on its head. The regular expectations of how the concert would start, when the smaller length Kritis would be sung, when and how the Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi would be sung and what would be sung to tail off the concert - nothing is predictable in a Krishna concert these days. The one thing that seems almost certain these days is that he will NOT adhere to the regular modus operandi. But for that, the theme seems to be to expect the unexpected.

Creation changes and evolves by someone breaking the tradition. The current modus operandi was also an innovation in its time and, probably, much reviled then. The changes now being wrought by T.M. Krishna could well be the harbinger of another change. The only problem is that any audience needs SOMETHING to expect. It may not be the existing modus operandi but there needs to be a Krishna modus operandi, at least. There is no point in saying that the audience need have no expectation but to hear good music - what constitutes good music OR a good concert is always a matter of taste.

Creativity is not merely an exhibition of chaos. It is judicious use of chaos to upset and improve the existing order. If there is no order that the audience can pin itself to, then the change that Krishna brings shall work only for a genius like Krishna but will fail in the intent of bringing any lasting change to the Carnatic landscape. It is only when other and, dare I say, lesser musicians are also able to do what Krishna does, and still attract an audience, can the change become lasting.

Human beings still do not readily adapt to change. How much more hide-bound will both the organizers and rasikas of what calls itself a traditional system of music be? The only way to really change a traditional system is to bring in a new 'tradition'!

The irony is that a creator fighting for creative freedom can only succeed when he himself sets up a new pattern that sets a discipline - and not a sing-as-you-please system - for others to follow. Failing which, he shall remain merely an eccentric one-off experimenter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Admetus and Alcestis - Guest post for The Fool

One of the lesser known facts about me is that I mainlined on myths of various origins throughout my youth. In addition to Indian myth, Graeco-Roman myth, Celtic Myth, Nordic myth, Germanic myth - I had read them all. The Iliad, the Odyssey, The Aeneid, Metamorphoses, The tale of Beowulf, the Nordic sagas - you name it, I had read it. Some of them stuck in my mind, some memories need refreshing.

The Fool has a blog dedicated to Myth, Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently, he is running a series of fiction written based on myth. This tale of 'Admetus and Alcestis' is my guest post on his blog for that series.

I need to warn you - it is NOT a humorous retelling and it is a slightly long tale. I hope you enjoy it, nevertheless.

The tale can be read here - Admetus and Alcestis

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tales from the Mahabharat - GP for Alka Narula

As people who know me know, every now and I then I dust off my saffron robes, sit in the Padmasan and start pontificating on the wisdom of the sages of yore. It is true that I do it even without any active encouragement but, if I can find someone who encourages me, my enthusiasm is boundless.

Alka Narula is my major source of encouragement in this area. This time, I have written a guest post for her - a lesser known tale from the Mahabharat (known only to people like me who delve in detail into the epics OR people who patiently sat through all of Ramanand Sagar's serials based on epics.)

The tale of the Rishi Uttang is a surprising exposition of what our epics really had to say about caste discrimination. You can read it here - The Tale of Uttang Rishi

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I am determined

There is a whole world of knowledge out there of which I am blissfully ignorant but I thought I knew my words at least. Even that consolation has suffered a few blows in the past, as followers of these chronicles know, and it suffered yet another blow recently.

I had always prided myself on the determination with which I pursue a life of watching TV and reading books and, now, someone tells me that I cannot call it determination. What the heck? I decided, as usual, to take recourse to my wise friend on this matter.

The problem, though, with my friend is that he never ever sides me.

"So, WHY can't I call it determination, damn it?"

"THAT is mere self-indulgence. What is so great about doing it?"

"What is so great about eating bottles, if you like eating them? Those guys tout their determination to eat the most bottles on TV and no-one objects."

"Well - they provide entertainment. What is the use of what you are doing to anyone except you?"

"Well - if people want to come and get entertained by watching me read books, am I stopping them? Just because they do not choose to do it, you question my determination?"

"Come on! Do not be fixated on just the fringe. There are lot of other examples of people pursuing worthwhile ambitions and not merely indulging themselves."

"Like who? You? Your pursuit of your ambition to become the CEO of your company is determination? Like you are not doing it because you want a bigger car, a huge house, business class travel and foreign vacations in five star hotels. AND what is all that if not self-indulgence?"

"Forget what I do with the money I earn. Concentrate on what I do to earn it. The social purpose I serve"

"Hmm! Really? I cannot see that the existence on one less soft drink in the world - or even all soft drinks - is such a huge loss to Society."

"Ah! You are incorrigible. Why am I arguing with you? IF Society chooses to pay money for your doing something, then what you are doing has social purpose and a pursuit of that is determination. Otherwise, it is not."

NOW - I got it. If I get paid to do anything, I am doing something worthwhile, even if what I am doing is spamming people with porn-site links. If I am not paid, then it is not.

I am NOW determined to pursue a life of reading books and watching TV, till they become socially relevant!

Monday, December 8, 2014

What have they done to you, Bond?

I vaguely remember a snippet from PG Wodehouse' "Our man in America" pieces. It goes something like this (NOT verbatim quoting since my memory is pretty poor. Yes! Yes! THAT is not my only flaw, thanks for reminding)

There has been a huge renaissance in Western movies. In the movies of the past, when the outlaw rode into town, the Sheriff used to meet him on the street in a duel and shoot him to doll-rags. Nowadays, he calls him in, psycho-analyses him, and finds that Bill holds up stages and shoots up the Malemute Saloon on Sundays because someone deprived him of his all-day sucker at the age of six. After which, Bill sells the movie rights to his life-story for a huge sum and retires to California. The movies, in the past, had the Army commandant fight battles with the Indians and kill them to the last man. Now, he calls them for a palaver ("Is all this scalping really necessary?"), after which they toddle off, go into the hay, corn and seed business and do well.

Something like that seems to have happened to James Bond. There was a time when he used to fight megalomaniac villains, who thought large - bringing about the end of the world, setting up space stations and such other interesting objectives. Now, he is reduced to fighting villains with a mother-fixation on 'M'. Where is the magnificence of megalomania and where is this paltry chasing of some sort of exalted serial killer? What next? Two hours of murder and mayhem, and unveiling a six year old boy, who thinks he is playing a computer game, as the master villain?

There was a time when Bond used to run over roof-tops, jump down sewers and fight villains, and within seconds enter a party as though he had stepped out of a band-box, with not a hair out of place. A sort of aspiring Hollywood Rajnikant. Now, he actually gets hurt, sports wounds and shows pain! What a fall for the original super-spy! In the near-future, I am sure there will be a movie with Bond, with his arm in a sling, being protected by others and hustled to safety. Or, horror of horrors, Bond having a heart-to-heart chat with the villain, causing the villain to repent and defuse the nuclear device he set up under the White House.

Time was when Bond's car was a combo car-submarine-airplane, in addition to being invisible sometimes; when his pen could do everything, including writing; when his watch was a laser, magnet and what not (it also showed time); and when you knew that if his car fell off the mountain into a gorge, he would come floating down on a parachute, if not flying a glider. NOW...I just cannot speak, my heart is too full. More of this and Bond might as well be a character from John le Carre's novels instead of Ian Fleming's.(My name is Smiley, George Smiley?)

But why Bond, alone? Batman is now an angst-ridden person resolving inner conflicts; Hercules and Achilles are mere battle-scarred warriors and not superhuman heroes; Loki is not a capricious god but merely driven by jealousy of the perceived favoritism shown by Odin to Thor - in fact, it seems like Hollywood has declared war against all elements of fantasy that is set anywhere in the 'real' world. I hope I will not live to see the time when there is a movie in which Hogwarts is set up by humans from a parallel universe and the wands are voice-activated devices that are programmed to do what the words mean.

When there is a whole world of movies for all this realism, this angst and all this agonizing, why pick on Bond? Or any of the other tales that mixed fantasy into the everyday world? Am I a lone dinosaur and is the rest of viewing world demanding realism in their movies - including the children who used to love these larger-than-life characters? Or is it that the directors feel the pressing need to show that they can do something more 'intellectual' than what the franchises have always stood for? Has the world grown away from all escapist entertainment and prefers everything to be more...mundane?

Maybe the day will come when some genius of a Hollywood director will film "The Tempest" with Prospero being a Computer genius, and Ariel and Caliban are mere apps! I hope that I will not live to see the day!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Games people play

I think I am suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. How can one person be the Macbeth of Shakespeare, Arjun of the Mahabharata and Ron Weasley of the Potter series, simultaneously, without also being insane?

I really doubt that I could be Macbeth. I have never yet manage to murder any of my bosses in his bed, while he was a guest at my home (or anywhere else, thank you very much! I appreciate your generous efforts to stretch my favorite neck). Primarily because I never yet managed to get any of them to be my guest, I suppose. They, though, have different ideas (like Dhoni? Perhaps!) - "Why would you run the risk of hanging, by murdering us, when you know that it is only a matter of time before you either drive us insane or drive us to suicide?"

As for Arjun, I really hope he does not hear of this comparison. Even the people who reveled in comparing him to Karna, to his (Arjun's) detriment, would have drawn the line at making an comparisons with me. I think, though, that this comparison must be about the level of concentration that he is supposed to have shown and which I possess too. So what if his concentration was when he was indulging in archery and mine was in sleeping?

And Ron Weasley? I would not wish myself on any Hermione Granger. Though, as a matter of fact, this comparison comes close to the truth. Like Ron, I would have married a woman who was more intelligent than me - if I had married, that is. After all, it is very difficult for any woman to be less intelligent than me and still be called human.

Though, to go by the quick estimates of my IQ, it is 134. I must remind myself to send this information to everyone who knows me - especially those who had the misfortune to teach me. I am sure they must all be in need of a good laugh. As for my being 70% an analytic thinker and 30% a creative thinker, that is probably all right. It does not matter how you slice and dice zero, it all comes to the same thing anyway.

There is one thing, though, that restores my faith in all these online tests. I have a very high Emotional Quotient, as I always knew. So, I DO understand people and am a great people person. Anybody, who has met me once, avoids me like the plague from then on and I always knew that the problem was only with the rest of the world and not with me. And, see, I was right!

But, tell me, what is this about 'What color am I?" Basically, I am brown shading off to black but I can turn green, when I see other people's writing praised; red, when someone pans my writing; and other colors of the rainbow as appropriate to the situation. So, what is with fixing me up with one color?

AND - what number am I? Ye Gods!

I think it is about time I stopped playing these games.

I, hereby, resolve to stop taking these online quizzes.

What was that?

"How likely are you to keep resolutions? Click to play"


Monday, December 1, 2014

The need to lie

I would probably have been a great Indian tycoon OR a top bureaucrat or a famous...somebody...but for one small problem. ("Oh! Really!" you say? What business do you have mouthing off here? Whose blog is it anyway?) The issue was that I never really knew which lesson to adopt and which to ignore. You know what, the worst problem is in not ignoring some of the lessons that you learn.

Among those various lessons that I learnt - and mistakenly adhered to - was this one about always telling the truth. Parents, teachers, everyone conspired to drill that into my head, so how was I to know that it was wrong to adhere to it? Though, it must be said, that the school did try to hint that the truth was not always a welcome thing. You know those things - they ask you "What would you do if you were the Prime Minister?" and get very angry if you reply honestly, "I will eat all the chocolates and ice-creams I want, without my mom and dad interfering with me." Apparently, you are supposed to write something like, "I will eradicate poverty, ensure every child gets an education...." when you are not even sure whether YOU really want an education yourself.

The first real inkling I got about the fact that not knowing to lie was detrimental to a good future was when I attended interviews to get a seat in Engineering. "Why do you want to join Computer Sciences?" was the major killer. Apparently, an answer on the lines of "Because it seems to be the best bet to get a high salary, go gallivanting round the world and get the hot babes interested in you" was not acceptable even if it WAS the gospel truth. You had to find an answer that indicated to them that God, when he was making you, filled you with a divine passion for coding that will not allow you to rest unless you were in front of a digital monster, typing in things like 'If x=y then a x b else b x a'. Needless to say, I failed miserably in convincing the interview panel that my only idea of Nirvana was to learn COBOL. (WHAT? Java? THAT only meant coffee in those days, provided you knew American.)

Then came the job interviews. By then, of course, I HAD learned that there would be this question about why I wanted to join their organisation and the ONLY acceptable answer was that my dreams of Heaven were all about working in THAT organisation and I woke up salivating at the thought. What I had not anticipated was this question, "Tell us why we should select you?" The only honest answer that I could think of was "THAT, I thought, was YOUR job. If I have to tell you that, what the hell are YOU doing on the interview panel?" This, it seems, was not the answer that they wanted. The idea, supposedly, was to tell them all the ways in which you would make the organization proud. Why o why do people ALWAYS want you to lie?

Having somehow landed a job, I thought that my lying days were over. Not so, as the very first time I applied for leave taught me. Apparently, the fact that you are allowed a certain number of days of leave did not mean that you could simply say that you would not come to office the next day. You had to give a leave application complete with a reason why you want it. The only honest reason I normally had was "I am tired of my boss' face and a need a break from it." This was not something you could put down there - not if you wanted to get the leave granted since it WAS your boss who had to approve it. Not to mention the fact that he may express HIS tiredness for YOUR face with such effect that you may need to find a new boss in a new organization to be tired of. So, more lies!

The way the world is built, when a soul reaches the pearly gates after death and is asked, "Why do you want to go to Heaven?" and answers, "I have always wanted to be in Heaven after I die", it may be the very first honest answer that it ever gave in an interview!