Monday, June 27, 2016

Nothing succeeds like Success

There I go, searching for the route to success and someone pops up with this one - Nothing succeeds like success. Indeed! So, if I want to succeed, I must have already succeeded? Eminently sensible and easy to do, of course. Now, why didn't I think of that?

As a route TO success, it is about as useful as cold water is to start a fire. is not entirely senseless as most such aphorisms turn out to be when you think of them.

Talk of success and, as a Tamilian, Rajnikant sort of pops up in you mind with the inevitability of the night following day. There, possibly, was a time when a director may...MAY...have told him that his Kannada-accented Tamil was a handicap. (Said director would stoutly deny any such accusation today. Lynch mobs are not exactly the sort of spectacle that you want to wake up to in the morning). Today...I am sure that, somewhere in Tamil Nadu, there are elocution classes for wannabe actors training them in THAT wonderful manner of dialogue delivery.

I also wonder about how much the going rates were for the bribes to get to be a conductor on the same bus route in Bangalore that Rajnikant once sold tickets on - as a surefire way to break into stardom. The point about all this, I hasten to add, is the fact that when someone succeeds, it is automatically assumed that ALL that he was and is are necessary characteristics of success. So, Success means that you can successfully get social respect for ALL your characteristics as well. (Actually, though, I must also hurry to say that all this was before he was deified. Today, to even dream that ANYONE could emulate Rajnikant is a one-way ticket to the nearest cemetery, if someone can patiently gather together all the pieces.)

THAT, though, is not the end of it. You succeed in one thing and, presto, you are the fount of wisdom on ALL things. Your views on politics, on society and on history will ALL find takers; and, even those who deride your views, will...well...actually deride your views instead of merely ignoring them. If you chose to write a book on the String theory or Einstein's General theory of relativity, it would probably outsell Stephen Hawking - so what if you consistently flunked every physics exam you were forced to attempt, not to mention that the fact that your physics teacher did not commit suicide after one tuition session with you can ONLY be because he was an abnormally strong character?

Unfortunately, though, the day has not come when people start doubting Hawking's views of the Universe on the grounds that 'Trump says the stars are God's daisy chain' or some such, but it is on its way. The physical sciences are so unwilling to change, unlike the more forward looking social sciences. THERE we have successful businessmen, actors, and whoever having THEIR opinions treated with appropriate seriousness - on politics, sociology, history - and without piddly considerations about whether they have the knowledge to make those comments. Why should these physical science guys be any different?

Soon, the day will come when Hawking WILL have to defend his physics against such critics. We have made a start with Darwin...we will get to Einstein et al as well.

THEN will come the day, like someone once said of someone else, when Trump can repeal the law of gravitation.

And THEN we can indeed say...

Nothing succeeds like success!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Letting go

I cannot be held responsible if you automatically think of the peculiar adhesiveness of people in power and their respective posts, the moment I say 'Letting go'. Yes, you guessed it right, I AM going to talk of the difficulty of 'Letting go' but WHY that should automatically lead you to think of people who bemoan the abolishing of crowns, I do not know.

Yes! Yes! I, too, find it difficult to let go. Especially, when I am engaging in conversation ('Oh! You call your monologues conversation?" you mutter. I heard you!) with someone. Short of holding the person by his button, I do everything to keep him around. So would you, if, like me, you are faced with fast disappearing backs every time and have been lucky enough to snag one unlucky victim. But THAT is not exactly the 'letting go' that I intend talking of, either.

AND then there was the time when I mentioned this in a post

So, every time I approached a girl, this is precisely how I felt and, when I opened my mouth to talk and only managed to mewl, the lady of the moment fastidiously wrinkled her nose and moved away, assuming that I was about to barf. Needless to say, this did put a minor spanner in the works and, in retrospect, I find much reason to feel grateful that there was no Valentine's day in my days for me to be outside looking in forlornly at all those "Couples Only" places.

If I have given the impression that I am the strong, silent lover or, more likely, the mutt who comes running to fetch and carry when his idol crooked her finger and played the uncle, who became a horse or elephant as per choice, to her kids, I must admit such could have been the case but for a chance biological discovery. I found that the heart, being a muscle and not a bone, does not actually break and, thus, after a suitable interval, I always found another girl to mewl at.

A lady comments something sarcastic on Facebook, which seemed to say that, because I had not grown an unkempt beard, taken to drink and died of a broken liver (Yeah! Well! Hindi seems to associate emotions with the liver more than the heart - jigri dost, jigar ka tukda and all that), I was a mere butterfly flitting from flower to flower. So, even if the girl rejects you as something unfit for human company, she will still not let go of you apparently; you have to be a satellite revolving around her, with or without the help of liquor.

I also hear that parents find it difficult to let go of their children. First they find it rather tough to let go of the idea that their children can have opinions different from their own; then they find it tough to see them flit out of the nest and make a career elsewhere; and then they find it difficult that they have ceased to be the center of the universe for them. It is almost as bad for them as for the Sun to find that the Earth has decided to take up domicile in another star system. I do not even speak of those parents who think that their children have been sent down on Earth for the explicit purpose of fulfilling the dreams that they themselves failed to achieve, which goes to show HOW difficult we also find to let go of our dreams even when it is long after their expiry date.

THAT, though, is ALL hearsay for me. What I can vouch for is the difficulty in letting go of a job. Suddenly, you find yourself bereft of an answer to the question, "What do you do?" It is not exactly like I am Rip Van Winkle who does totally nothing (though I aspire to be) but apparently brushing my teeth, drinking coffee, reading books, watching a movie or even blogging are not answers to THAT question. If I give them those answers, I get a "Hahaha! But what do you REALLY do?" as though I had been regaling them with a fictitious account all along. I mean "I am retired" or "I retired as..." says nothing about what you are currently doing but those, apparently, are acceptable answers - provided you are old enough.

The worst case of not letting go of your office is when you keep visiting it after retirement, much like the tongue keeps visiting the vacant spot of a drawn tooth. THAT can be very traumatic, you know. Just as you are trying to digest the fact that your fond hopes - that your absence has caused your organisation to collapse - are misplaced, someone comes in and says, "You know, we were all pretty astonished that your absence could make such a huge difference. Efficiency almost doubled!" THEN, indeed, you are forced to let go!

To let go of what we have all accustomed ourselves to consider social obligations is probably tougher by far. In your doddering seventies, you still think that YOU have to go to the help of your sick child - even when all he is sick with is the flu - and even when the said sick child probably has children, who are gainfully employed and quite capable of taking care of it (AND screaming about the addition of a golden oldie to the 'take care' list? Sometimes, that too!). There comes a time when you need to face up to the fact that your social obligations are also at an end and it is about time for you to allow people to fend for themselves or seek such help as can be received from other more nimble people around. But, would you? No way!

You learn to let go of almost all of these; and, if you do not, the thing that you are grasping so possessively just yanks itself out of your grip and moves on. There is one thing, though, that ONLY death can possibly make you let go - THOSE opinions that you form without ANY reason for forming them. THAT is the friend which will NEVER leave you as long as you grasp it tightly.

Strange, isn't it, that the one thing that you need to be letting go of is the one thing that is so easy to hold on to? C'est la vie!

Monday, June 13, 2016


I am a rather strange person, as most of you know by now. When I see a wasps' nest, for example, I am not seized by an irresistible impulse to pick a stick and poke it, just to avoid being ignored by the wasps. That, I sort of feel, is the time when being ignored is not too bad an idea.

The problem, though, is that this only means that I am not geared for success. The idea, actually, is to walk around with that stick in hand, poking at anything that even seems likely to ignore you. So what if even bumblebees develop stings merely in order to ensure that you are assured that you are not being ignored?

In other words, without attention you might as well tattoo 'Loser' on your forehead. If you do not get attention naturally, the easiest way is to be controversial - that proverbial stick with which you disturb nests and set everyone buzzing.

THAT was a lesson which seemed well worth applying. Having lolloped around Social media, saying polite and what I thought were wise things, and having been so studiously ignored by everyone to the extent that I kept checking my own page to ensure that what I had put up was really being carried, I decided that it was time for a change of strategy. (Phew! You read THAT and made sense of it? Great).

The Earth is actually flat

That was my first attempt to say 'Here I am; Notice me' using the latest gimmick that I had learnt. Either everyone actually thought the Earth WAS indeed flat or, perhaps, they thought it was too crazy to be bothered about. Maybe the latter, considering that the lone comment on it was 'Don't walk too far; you may fall off the edge' and it got some 17 Likes.

Hmmm! This creating a controversy was not easy. My next attempt was effective, though. Hitherto, if I found something wrong in a post, I'd comment, 'Maybe you need to look into the logic of this'. I know! I know! THAT sort of comment is what only a wuss would write. I considered shifting to 'Are you an idiot?' but a bold idea struck me. What is the point in a controversial comment? The best thing was a controversial post. The next time I saw some such post in a Facebook group, I put up a fresh FB post.

This group is full of morons

WHAT a fury of comments and counter-comments erupted on that one! For once, I was not being ignored - everyone and his aunt wanted to crash the party. I was quite thrilled with my success when, at the end of the day, I found myself kicked out of the group and unfriended by every single person who was a member of that group and on my friends' list.

Uhoh! This controversy business is not as easy as it seems. You sort of needed to poke just enough to convert even the bumblebees to wasps, get them all stinging but leave enough of a back-door to gracefully exit your position on the 'Oh! I did not mean it that way' basis. THAT is going to take some learning for me. Hopefully, I will not end up getting kicked out of Facebook before I am done learning.

AND my smoke! I shall create the mother of all controversies every day and twice on Sundays!

Monday, June 6, 2016

A bachelor and a baby


"Look! Look! He is calling you mama."

I hastily wiped that incredulous look on my face and put on a suitably impressed look, as my friend's wife turned to me. Impressed look, it had to be, considering that this child prodigy of a three month old had taken just a nanosecond to look at me, divine our relationship and find the word to express it. Meanwhile, my mind was working feverishly to identify exactly how that screeched set of syllables meant mama ('Uncle', for those of you who know not what it means in propah English; 'maternal uncle' to the offspring of a sibling or just generally 'uncle' to the rest of the babes of the world.) I parse those vocal syllable and, hey yes, there was first a 'ma' and then a 'ma', separated by what Divine Providence equips parents to identify as nonsense syllables.

Hmm! When I had agreed to host these new-born parents and their baby for a few days, the only problem I had envisaged was an issue of insomnia. From what I had gleaned, babies did not particularly care if you slept when they slept, but took grave objection to your sleeping when they are awake - and have no compunction about screaming their objections lustily. Looks like there was a lot more to it than just that.

For one, the entire day was awash in baby-talk. No, not from the baby, it was quite content to do it infrequently. The parents, though, were at it all day - as though they were learning a new language and had to keep practicing it lest they forgot how to speak it. The baby looked as though it was bemused at having its role usurped by them.

If they had only kept it to themselves, I may have found a way to ignore it. The problem was that they WOULD try to get ME to converse with the baby, despite the fact that the baby showed a singular disinterest in discussing the thusness of things with me. Then, they would give me wounded looks at my refusal to learn this new lingua franca. When it got to the point where they started talking to ME in this mystery tongue, I had to throw my hands up and claim illiteracy.

"Look! Look! What he is doing now...the clever imp"

THAT was on the second day and, by then, I had stopped rushing to their room in a hurry not to miss the latest miracle wrought by the little one. The miracle would, I complacently thought, be the twentieth time in the day when the little tot had gone on all fours and butted the pillow. I had no clue how the pillow felt about it but I was all done feeling amazed by the feat.

I should have! I should not have waited till the screaming started again - as it did and would continue till I had duly gone over and stood witness to the acrobatic feat - before walking over leisurely. If I had, I may have saved my new laptop from getting drooled over, with the parents ecstatically clapping their hands and beaming with pride at the sight.

I jumped as though a red-hot skewer had been stuck up my...fundament, shall we say?

"Cute, isn't he?"

Cute, I assure you, was not the specific adjective that was on top of my mind at the moment. Unfortunately, there are social norms about hosts and guests, not to mention certain irrational social prejudices about committing verbal or physical mayhem on babies, otherwise...AND the caterwauling that resulted from my rescuing my laptop from its totally unnecessary bath...these modern kids...even for something to drool on, they prefer electronic devices!

Suffice to say that every time there were sounds of ecstasy from them, my BP shot up and I took a hurried inventory of my belongings. Yeah, my phone was supposed to be unbreakable and all that but when the irresistible force meets the immovable - or, in this case, unbreakable - object, who knows what the result would be? Especially since the irresistible force, when resisted, would merely shrug its shoulders, metaphorically, with a 'Nyanyanya' and move on to try its powers on the mirror. If the unbreakable object fails in being so, though, I may...MAY...also say 'Nyanyanya' but THAT would only be because my rage had rendered me inarticulate.

You must be sure then that I heaved a huge sigh of relief when their visit came to an end. You know what...I actually ended up missing that little mite, its smiles, its caterwauling and even its drooling. I am as irrational as the rest of humanity!