Monday, September 29, 2014

Fifty-one and kicking (and screaming too!)

My life has always been full of ironies. When in my twenties, it was tough for me to get to first base with any woman. After all, when the conversation starts off with her calling me 'Uncle', it becomes sort of difficult for me to think that it is a promising start of a budding romance. Talk about getting friend-zoned, I was getting uncle-zoned. And, now at fifty-one, when the 'Uncle' would probably sit easier on my ears, I get everyone calling me 'Suresh'. Ah! No! No! No! It is not that my chiseled features, wavy hair and well-toned body have rendered me a damsel's delight. NOW, I am getting friend-zoned, that is all. AND, in a few years, I will probably get child-zoned - do they not call senility the second childhood?

And, no, THAT is not the reason why I am single. In case you did not know, when I was in my twenties, all it took was a decent job, and the arranged marriage system would take care of all the rest. The designated victim bride would (wo)manfully swallow her nausea at the sight of me and consent to the wedding - dutiful daughter that she would be. Not that women are less dutiful as daughters these days, it is just that they have redrafted their duties, and a good thing too. The previous draft was good only as an instruction manual for robots. (Can someone please enlighten me about why people are so happy with 'dutiful' sons/daughters/wives/whatever? To me, if someone said that I had a dutiful something-or-the-other, it always seemed like the other person would rather jump into a fire than do whatever it was for me BUT for their sense of duty. AND, the fact that I never could understand why their doing this under coercion of duty ranked higher than their doing something willingly shows quite clearly that I was born a social misfit.)

Where was I? Ah! I was about to say that turning fifty-one had not made much of a change in my life. I never did feel my age since I had always been made to feel old, even when chronologically I should have been considered young, thanks to the absence of a few strands of dead keratin. Since I never did feel my age, I could happily think of starting trekking at 41 without a thought of creaking bones and screaming muscles. Why, I could even think of venturing, for the first time, into the thickets of Social media at close to 50. Not that I could claim to be an adept at it or even think of becoming one over the course of what remains of my life. I am yet to understand the all-important role of selfies - that a selfie a day keeps boredom away. Leave selfies, I have not even graduated from the passport-size photographs, which is all my generation knew of self-photography. I know only one meaning for friends. That is grossly insufficient - you need to know of Like-for-Like friends; Share-for-Share friends AND be ready to measure the friendships based on "Have you LIKED/SHARED my status, lately?" No! I am still a total novice at the business and likely to remain so. Which is why I shall be left with only that handful of Facebook friends I have now and not the zillions that are possible.

Not much of a change in my life, did I say? Not really true. We all mumble things about 'Age is merely a number', while scheduling the visit to the dentist to take out yet another painful tooth. In my case, the teeth are not the issue, yet, the eyes are. When you see me sitting in front of my laptop with eyes pouring tears, please do not be mislead into the thinking that I have been moved by some sensational piece of writing. It is more likely that my eyes are in tears at the thought that I will not give them surcease from the glaring monster in front of them.

AND the brain! I have reached the point where I am expecting to see myself saying, some day soon, "I am...wait...the name is at the tip of my tongue..starts with 'S', I am sure...", and without even the escape of saying, "The face is familiar...I am just not getting the name." So, if you see me walking forlornly on the streets and I do not recognize you, please do not be offended. If you accost me and find that I do not recognize myself and ask you, pathetically (like the yesteryear heroines who seemed to be genetically prone to amnesia), "Who am I?", please do not shock me unpleasantly by abruptly telling me the truth. Take me kindly by the hand, lead me to some shady nook, seat me safely so that I cannot hurt myself when I faint away, and break the bad news.

All said and done, fifty-one is not too bad. In fact, life is pretty good, indeed. AND, I can look forward to losing all my bad memories when I forget myself!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mangalyan - So what's the big deal?

Apparently ISRO shot off a rocket and it put a satellite around Mars. Now, unless that satellite can take a top angle shot of Deepika Padukone's assets and get the Nation's largest daily to tweet about it on the lines of "OMG! Deepika's assets are visible from Mars", what is the big deal? The way it goes these days, ISRO needs to arrange for Mangalyan to do exactly that if it is to get TOI to seriously tout its achievement loud enough to be 'heard over the clutter in the Social media". After all, who cares, otherwise, if one more satellite orbits Mars than was the case previously?

The Nation is, of course, delusional in putting up a Mars mission when so many live in poverty. US, Europe and Russia have, of course, eliminated all poverty in their countries, and the people there live in lands of milk and honey. Thus, they can indulge their fantasy to play with fireworks, and, of course, when they do it they are doing it merely in a scientific spirit of inquiry, which has no taint of any delusion whatsoever. India, though, ought not to indulge in any such activity and, if it does, it is purely delusional with no taint of scientific inquiry. We can put up factories to produce fancy cars, splurge huge sums on the latest in Smart-phones and Tabs, erect huge statues to our leaders, get peppered with ads of deodorants and foreign travel - in short, we can indulge ourselves in any manner whatsoever on Earth without having poverty thrown in our faces BUT it can only be delusion that drives us beyond the limits of this planet.

The taint of that delusion carries to the people who worked to make it a reality. After all, what does it matter that these people were able to so precisely engineer the rocket - in a country which has elevated 'chalta hai' to a fine art - and so accurately compute the orbital mechanics that they managed to insert the satellite in Mars orbit without hitch. They did it in their very first attempt - something that no single country had managed before. BUT - big deal - what is the use of such efficiency and such effectiveness when it comes in the service of a mere delusion? AND, after all, even if all these things were about as difficult for a small payload as it would be for a larger one, it was a small payload after all. Better to have a world record payload crashing into the Indian Ocean than a small payload actually orbiting Mars. AND, of course, much better to concentrate on the all-important performance of CSK in the Champion's league T-20 tournaments.

So, well, what if we are used to saying, "It ain't rocket science" to mention that something is not as difficult as rocket science AND this IS rocket science in which the ISRO guys have managed to come off with such flying colors? It is not like they have won the World Cup for India, is it? Even the Prime Minister needs to mention that this small achievement of ISRO's needs to get SOME acclaim - much like hockey players plead for some attention from a cricket-crazy nation.

So, okay, just because Mr. Modi was present there, we will sort of mention them for a day or two - unless someone has tweeted about some other starlet's legs in the meantime. We cannot all be deluded into pampering the egos of the ISRO guys when more important things like this plague the Nation.

Monday, September 22, 2014

He was a nice man

"Hey! Not coming to the party tonight? Heard that you are saddled with an urgent job?"

"I am coming, no fear! I will request Akash to make this presentation for me."

"This is the fourth time this month that you are tapping him. Will he agree?"

"He is a nice guy. He will certainly help."

* * *

"Amma! I want two months salary in advance."

"You cannot keep asking...."

"Nitu! Give her the money. Where will our servant maid go in an emergency?"

"Akash! I don't think we should..."

"It will not bankrupt us, Nitu!"

* * *

"My Dad has been hospitalized. Can you do my presentation for me? I need to go to the hospital."

"I wish I could do it for you, Akash! But I am already tied up with urgent work."

An hour later

"Akash did your job so often and you refused today. If he sees you now, leaving for home, do you think he will help in future?"

"I would have helped him if I could. But I had so much work that I had to sit half an hour longer at office. I would need to sit another couple of hours to do his job. What can I do? Akash is a nice guy. He will understand."

* * *

"We need you to come early in the morning and just do the dishes. We have to go to the hospital."

"Amma! I cannot. The corner house lady will yell at me if I come fifteen minutes late."

* * *

"You know what? Akash has become nasty these days. Can you believe it? He refused to help merely because he does not want to sit late. And I thought he was a nice man."

* * *

"I thought that the middle house lady's husband was a good man. Can you believe it? I asked him for only one month's advance and he refused? And I thought he was a nice man."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Helpless Lines

We live in a very helpful world these days. For almost everything, there is always a helpline. So, if you run into a problem, you can always dial a helpline. Once you do that, the problem that you have with the helpline is guaranteed to make you forget the problem you thought you would solve by dialing it. Or, maybe, I exaggerate.

Truth be told, I have found helplines handy on a few occasions - notably when I was complaining about problems in my consumer durables. The problem for me, though, starts when I need solutions to issues pertaining to those sectors that arose as a consequence of the microchip.

There is a saying in Hindi 'Diya tale andera" viz "Darkness lies below the lamp". That saying is meant in irony - that the very thing that dispels darkness elsewhere hosts darkness under it. Seems to me, though, that people have taken it as an instruction - that there HAS to be darkness beneath the lamp. What else can explain the fact that the worst experiences on help lines arise when you deal with the very people who made help lines possible?

So there I was, approaching a Helpline for help. ("Tch! Tch! Naivete in one so old is SO unendearing", you say? This time, I HAVE to agree, alas!)

Voice: "Good Morning, Sir! I am ... from ...! How may I help you?"

(These people get trained to insult you, just with the tone of voice, while calling you 'Sir' all the way, as I soon would learn.)

Me: (Not realizing that the "How may I help you?" is as meaningless a phrase as the "Good morning") A couple of days back, you offered a 4G dongle in replacement for a 3G Dongle and said that you would activate it in 4 hours. Your executive said it would be activated within 4 hours of his logging in my papers. I have been using the 3G SIM card with the 4G dongle and it is not connecting properly. When can I expect to get the 4G SIM activated - now that it is 48 hours since I gave my papers?

(The 3G version used to connect me with all the speed of an arthritic tortoise ambling around to no purpose. With the 4G dongle, it moved with the speed of a frozen arthritic tortoise, so I was understandably peeved.)

Voice: Sir! Your connection status shows active on our Server.

Me: That's dandy for you. The problem is that I cannot connect.

Voice: I'll have to put you on hold. Is that Ok?

Me: (with visions of a sagacious superior being called to wave a magic wand to solve the issue) Fine.

(Music and, then, an astounding example of optimism. This company thinks that the time I am waiting, pissed with a product and biting my nails at the delay, is the time I would be most receptive to a sales spiel about other products!)

Voice: Sir! Your connection status shows active on our Server.

(A vague sense of having heard this before arises in my mind)

Me: That's fine but I am unable to connect. AND when are you likely to activate the 4G connection?

Voice: Do you have the executive's name and phone number, Sir?

Me: (quite flabbergasted by the thought that the personal bio-data of the executive was needed to activate a SIM card) No! If I would need all that to get answers to complaints, why did you not tell me to get those details when you rang me up to sell your 4G card?

(I must admit I was quite spoiled by the consumer durables guys. All I had to do was give them the product code of the errant merchandise and they were even able to tell me how many times and for what problems I had called them before. Here, this lady either had no access to information about whether at all someone had been sent to give me a 4G card and, if so, what was the status of activation of the new card OR was merely trained to be as unhelpful as possible.)

Voice: I need to put you on hold, Sir!

(By now, I knew that this was either a tea-break OR she was just stalling me in the hope that I would just go away. Well, I still wasn't prepared to go away)

Voice: Sir! You need to go to the nearest xxx Care Center.

Me: What? To get to know whether a SIM card is activated or not? A SIM card that YOU practically forced on me?

Voice: (distinctly sounding like an irritated school-teacher talking to her dumbest student) Sir! You need to go to the nearest xxx Care Center)

Me: (Spluttering)

Voice: (with the tone of 'God! If you had to produce specimens like this, why saddle me with answering them?') Sir! You need to go to the nearest xxx Care Center.

Yeah! Right! So, Helplines are meant to make you feel totally helpless. AND, they exist merely to tell you to do exactly what you would have done if they had not existed in the first place.

There the issue still remains. What amazes me is the fact that the companies MUST have trained these people. Most people are not geared to repeating the same thing over and over again like robots. The least that they do is tell you WHY the matter cannot be sorted over phone and WHY you need to visit in person. This robotic regurgitation of the same sentence can come ONLY from training. What beats me is why the money they spend on training is being spent to convert human beings into mere record-and-repeat devices, when a recorded voice could do as well? Why not in making them genuinely helpful?

OR do the companies think that this is all that the people they have employed are good for?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Generation Gap?

The one thing that every young person is sure of is that the old suffer from 'generation gap' sickness. The old, of course, are equally as sure that what the young suffer from is 'chronic disrespect'. Despite the fact that I belong to the 'old', I am here to prove, conclusively, that 'generation gap sickness' IS the truth. What is more, I shall call upon my good friend Billy, the Bard, also known as William Shakespeare to help me prove my point.

There is this piece of advice Billy has a parent give to his son and, in modern days, a more utter set of absolute stupidity masquerading as advice can never be heard. If this does not prove that what one generation thinks of as the epitome of wisdom is arrant nonsense for the subsequent generations, I advise you to take recourse to your shrink and, if possible, just do not emerge into the world again.

There is this scene in "Hamlet" where Polonius advises his son Laertes about how he is to comport himself.

See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Huh! What did the man think I would do for FB status updates and tweets. If I keep silent about my thoughts, the world would think I am dead and start mourning me (rejoicing is more like it, maybe, but allow me my illusions).

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade.

Hmm! Whatever happened to "What have you done for me lately?" I mean, I may have tried the adoption of a few friends - based on how copiously they have admired my blogposts - but if I grapple them to my soul with hoops of steel, how am I to disentangle myself when they stop their commenting?

Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.

Yeah! Right! Now I cannot even go around yelling at people for known and imagined slights - what did the man think FB existed for? And, what does he mean 'opposed beware of thee'? When I find too few Likes on my status castigating someone, I am not allowed to gracefully vacate the scene by apologizing? If I follow this crap, 'unfriending' me would be the world's favorite pastime.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.

This is antediluvian advice. WHAT? Listen more, talk less? Get yelled at but do not yell back? Is this man for real? If I followed this, I would be drowned in an ocean of words AND every Tom, Dick and Harry (This is once that I won't get the women yelling at me for not using every Jane, Tess and Mary) would take turns at yelling at me for all the injuries done by people at whom they dare not yell.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Now here is a fine piece of advice. I have no clue how it is in France, but the 'apparel that oft proclaims the man' is unlikely to fit in to 'thy purse' - unless you are Dhirubhai Ambani's son. And what is that guff about 'not express'd in fancy'? Dressing up IS all about fancy. Just remember those tail coats - did anything resemble fancy dress any more than that?

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Fine - lending IS a dicey affair but does the man mean that I should not work in a bank? AND, ever heard anything as stupid as that last line - 'borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry', indeed! Does he even realize that we scrimp and save on everything in order to pay our EMIs? That, but for those loans to be repaid, most of us would enjoy more leisurely lives and not work as hard? It is borrowing that keeps the world running at a hectic pace and the chap thinks it would 'dull the edge of husbandry'. Nonsense.

This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

THAT is the crowning stupidity of this piece of advice. Whatever gave this man the idea that anyone would not want to be 'false to any man'? I mean, just imagine the entire swathes of the economy that would be destroyed. What a dull world it would be with no marketing professionals, no advertising, no financial advisers - all of whom rely on the fact that the Truth is injurious to the health of Society. AND, if you agree with this idiocy because you are none of the above, stop and think. Without advertisements there would be no TV and no social media - now does THAT pinch? AND, everyone knows that, to lie convincingly, you must first convince yourself that it is NOT a lie. Which means that this advice ought to be 'to thine own self do lie, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be caught out by any man'

The fact that this advice proves so inappropriate does not prove the existence of generation gap sickness? Why so? Ah! You think that Billy used this in THIS play to prove the conclusive insanity of the advice, considering the number of people who go insane in it, and die, kill or get killed? Hmm! That is YOUR point of view. Me - I think it is conclusive proof - so there!

Whatever else we may disagree upon, on one thing we shall have perfect agreement. From that day to this day, parents are very generous with advice and niggardly with money when children would prefer it the other way around.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

God save me

You are safe from no-one these days. The one truth that we all live by is the fact that we can safely blame God for anything without any comebacks from Him. When it comes to me, though, even THAT truth fails. There I go, happily blaming God for being remiss in some things, and the next thing I know He comes over at night to tell me off for it.

God: Where do you get off blaming Me for being remiss?
Me: Wait a minute. Ain't I got no privacy? You been spying on me - that's against the privacy laws.
God: Really? Ever heard of My being omniscient? There IS no privacy when it comes to Me.
Me: You have nothing better than to eavesdrop on me? No wonder the world is going to Hell in a handbasket.
God: Wait a...ah! Contact with humans is corrupting. Why am I sounding off on My powers? After all, you put that up in the public domain, so what is all this nonsense about privacy?
Me (embarrassed): Well - I didn't know you were active on Social media, so how could I know You would know?
God: You had the gall to blame Me for sending different instruction manuals? All of them are similar with only minor differences.
Me: Come on! You do not even have the same appearance in all of them. Some have you looking like You now do - an old, wise man; others have You with supernumerary hands and even heads; still others make You look like ...
God: Why not? You call Me omnipotent, don't you?
Me: What has THAT got to...
God: Do you think, then, that I HAVE to be in one shape? Omnipotent in everything else but forced to remain in one shape?
Me: Not exactly...I could also see you as a Lion, for example.
God: Named Aslan, I suppose. Well - no matter what you think - I can appear and have appeared in any shape I choose to anyone. So, what about it?
Me: Then, what was that about making Man in Your own image?
God: Any image IS My own image, so what about that?
Me: That is as it may be but what do You mean all instruction manuals are similar. They are vastly different. They all seek different behavior from us.
God: Yeah? Tell me. Is not Greed a sin in all of them? Envy? Do I not ask you to love your neighbor..
Me: Come on Lord! Of course, You do not mean that. You meant that I should love him IF he believed in the same things I do, looks the same way I do, talks the...
God: What is this? Some sort of amendments to the Commandments? I do not remember putting in any exclusion clauses to My Commandments.
Me: You must understand that what You ask IS impossible. How can I love my neighbor? If You had known him..
God: I might have excluded him from the requirements? Is that not what you always say? If he gave you all you wanted, looked as you would have him look, behaved as you wished him to behave, and asked nothing in return, why should I even need to enjoin you to do it? Does a starving man need a diktat to make him eat food?
Me: Well - my neighbor is an atheist. Surely You cannot mean that I should love someone who insults You?
God: You really DO think I am like you. But then, when you keep saying that I made you in My image, all you meant was that you conceive of Me as being made in your image. Do you think that I care more for whether a man worships Me than whether he lives the life I seek humans to live? That, unless he is My follower, he is a bad guy and whatever he does is evil?
Me (changing track): Your instruction manuals do say different things about how to treat women, treat different types of people...YOUR messengers said so and THEY ought to have known what is the right way to live. BUT each one has said a different thing.
God: I hear that there was a man called Einstein, who once said, "When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity"
Me: You know I hate physics and are trying to confuse me. What has Einstein got to do with this?
God: Do you think that Einstein said that because he knew that THAT was relativity or was he communicating to suit the audience?
Me (pretending to think): Hmmm...
God (relentlessly) : Or do you think that Einstein was saying that the courting experience ought to be enjoyable ONLY to the man and NOT to the girl?
Me (confused): I do not get your point.
God : You have no intention of getting it anyway, so why do I bother? The point is that My messengers can only open a window on Reality for you. It is for you to see what you will. AND, practically none of you bother to look through the window to see and understand Reality to the extent you can. As far as I can see, the best you do is to start worshiping the window, and fighting about whose window is the real window. Most of you do not even bother to do that - you worship the messenger who opened the window for you, and do not heed either the window or the Reality behind.
Me: You can't say that. Why, we have been insisting on all the rituals prescribed by you, the dress codes, the...
God (despairingly): AND that is all that you have learnt of My Word? You see Me merely as a fashion guru crossed with a finishing school? AND a further exclusion clause on my omnipotence, that prohibits me from making any changes in even the dress code and social behavior from time to time?
Me (soothingly): No, Lord! We have allowed certain modifications to suit the modern world. You know, we have deleted all the seven deadly sins from the list. And that thing about non-violence; that thing about respecting your elders; that thing about caring for your parents in their dotage....

There was a Cosmic sigh and God vanished.

BUT - was it God, really? I mean, could it be God if, when it came to people who did not adhere to his code of conduct, He would be against my beating them up or beheading them as per choice? It must be some trick of the Devil. God save me from the blandishments of Satan.

Meanwhile, I must stock up on a lot of garlic!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Guidelines, please

I really think God has been very remiss. He sent me down on Earth but neglected to put in an appropriate instruction manual on how to lead a life - more specifically, how to deal with my fellow-man. It really would have been helpful to know, say, that if a man has green eyes and long sideburns, he should be trusted; if a woman had long tapering fingers, she would be compassionate etc. etc. I mean, if you knew where you stood with people you could live an easier life. Like, when you have money to invest, you could just scroll through your list of friends for one with a wide forehead and prematurely graying hair, and if you wanted great company, you could look for one with a bulbous nose and bloated belly...things like that.

It is all very fine to say that you have brains to judge people with...the thing is that YOU may be equipped with a Quadcore processor and all that; what if all there is in my head is only data storage. Shouldn't I be equipped with at least a minimal app that has clear guidelines about how to select from a given set of options?

Thankfully, this unpardonable omission by God has been rectified by some great people, who may or may not claim to be speaking for Him. I learnt of how useful they can be, along with the reassuring fact that I was not alone in my predicament, when I was at a friend's house and his sis, who was then a House Surgeon at AIIMS, came in distressed.

"What a dismal day! There was this man from Haryana, who was operated upon today and we had put in tubes to evacuate his urine and feces. When he learnt that I had done the surgery on him, he yanked out the tubes before anyone could intervene. When I told him how dangerous it was, he casually says 'Put it in'. Had I been a man, he probably would have taken me seriously. Now, he is unlikely to survive"

Clause 23 A, Chapter 3 of the instruction manual provided to the man must have said, "Women belong in the kitchen and can do nothing worthwhile in the outside world." I envied him his confidence in dealing with women - a confidence that could not even be touched, leave alone shaken, by any of the stupid fears of personal safety that afflicts the bravest of us in hospitals. See, how confident the existence of an instruction manual made him? True, his confidence, probably, cost him his life but that was not the fault of the manual - it is the fault of people who had failed to live by it - the women who stepped out of home, the hospitals that employed them etc.

I ached to get some instruction manual that would rid me of all need to worry about people. Something that said in clause 27 E, Chapter 3, that women who dressed in anything other than a sari, were promiscuous; in clause 14 A, Chapter 5, that people born black could not understand physics; in clause 6 F, Chapter 8, people who could not speak English in YOUR accent had no brains - things like that. I am not too nitpicking about the clause numbers OR the chapter numbers OR even the nature of guidelines - as long as there were some.

I was still searching. Though I did not find the manual for myself, I did find a lot of people who had found it and were living by it. AND, by God, the confidence it gave them! The unshaken sense of superiority with which they could deal with people, who had not had the brains to choose to eat 'Makki da roti and Sarson da saag', and had settled for stupid things like idlis and dosas - or the vice versa; the sense of deference for people who had invented the fork and the knife and taught them the best way to eat their aloo paranthas - or their masala dosas; the obdurate belief that women existed to serve men; the inviolable feeling of superiority by way of being born in a 'superior' caste - I was missing out on a whole lot by not having laid my hands on THE instruction manual.

You see, things would have been easier for me if I had known of only ONE instruction manual. The problem is that I knew that God, in His wisdom - if indeed it was He who sent out ALL those messengers - seems to have couriered different manuals by different messengers. NOW therein lies a problem. Were ALL of them messengers and were ALL those messages properly transcribed? Could it be possible, horror of horrors, that some of them were NOT His messengers and, even where the concerned people believed that it was a TRUE messenger, could they differ on what is the proper transcript of the message?

Confusion! Some of the followers of messengers claimed that ALL others were spurious messengers; within followers, there were differences on what the right transcript of the message was. Some instruction manuals were modified to suit the modern world, and others disputed the modifications. People went to war, set off bombs and threatened non-believers with Hell and damnation, if THEIR instruction manual was not adopted and followed.

The choice of the right instruction manual became SO vexing that it seemed easier to figure out how to act with people on a case-by-case basis. There were less people in my life than there were instruction manuals, after all.

I cannot help regretting the fact that I read too much and came to know about all the varieties of instruction manuals in the world. I should have kept my reading to just one. I would have been a far more confident person. It is easier to be confident when you are following a clear guideline than when you follow your own uncertain judgment. It also helps to just stop your brain from thinking.

Unfortunately, I seem to have a processor fitted in, after all, and cannot avoid thinking. Any guidelines on how to shut it up and fit in THAT minimal app?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A substantial issue?

I look into the mirror. A small sphere, set atop a much larger sphere, looks back at me. I may not exactly be as broad as I am tall - yet - but I have certainly made substantial progress towards that goal.

"Tubby or not tubby, that is the question", I say to myself.

This happens once every year with me. No, it is NOT love (nor is it Dove, by the way). I know that the Bard may have said, "It is not Love which alters when it alteration finds", but mankind, as usual, considers that when Billy said 'alterations', he did not mean to include alterations in weight and bank balance. (Much like people believe that when their scriptures said, 'Love thy neighbor as you would love thyself', it could not really have meant THEIR neighbor). So, when you put on weight and your lady love takes one look at you and says "Ewwww! I don't want to see you again", you would be advised not to be quoting the Bard. She would only say, "Yeah! So it never was love, so what?", and you would have lost love retrospectively as well as prospectively.

Where was I? Ah! Telling you that it was NOT love, wasn't I? Anyway, it is really not love. It is just that, once a year, I trek in the Himalayas and lugging all this weight around at those altitudes makes me feel more like a porter than a trekker. So, the idea of 'not tubby' seems more attractive around that time. Why I did not trek when I was lath-thin (I really was, you know! Like my beard, my girth too developed long after I was born), I will never know.

So, yes, Billy's sayings did come in handy for a while. "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them", I used to say to explain how I was not responsible for my weight gain, since the damn thing was thrust upon me. I believed it, too. Though, I would have preferred that, when it was thrust upon me, it had been targeted more evenly across my body. There are those, who have even achieved greatness similarly but, since it has been achieved from head to toe uniformly, they only look substantial whereas, in my case, getting all that greatness around the waist has made me look fat. (I still prefer that word to obese - it sounds close to obscene and who wants to be known as looking obscene?)

The problem with education is that there are always those guys who know more than you do. So, up comes a guy with a quip to beat my 'greatness thrust upon me' quote. I say that thing to him and he gets back with "Not that he loved slimness less but that he loved dining more", misquoting Brutus. It certainly did not help that this happened when I had just heaped Biryani on my plate, in what I thought was modest quantities and what others seemed to think was enough for a family of four.

And then people started giving me all sorts of scary news. Apparently, these fats were not content to park themselves around the belly. They also parked their LDLs haphazardly on the sides of the blood vessels causing traffic jams of blood corpuscles. Sometimes, it could result in gridlocks in the blood vessels supplying the heart or the brain.

For a while there, I seriously considered reducing weight - even without the prospect of a trek. The problem was with the process. It was gratifying to know that there was, at least, one thing in the world that was easier to acquire than to lose. You know, with wealth and reputation, it is the other way round. Surprisingly, though, it did not make me happy at all. Why is it that the only thing you want to lose is SO difficult to lose, and the things, that you would rather not lose, dissipate like mist? Life is a b****!

THAT phase did not last long, though. Life is a journey towards death, anyway, and I am a man in a hurry. Or, if you prefer quotes, "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die". I could never bring myself to obsess about how long I could live and lose the chance of living that day. Or, in more pompous terms, I was incapable of postponing current gratification for a future benefit.

So, 'Tubby or not tubby'? Well - the trek is only in October and, meanwhile, that luscious pastry is staring me in my face NOW.

Tubby it is going to be!