Monday, August 22, 2016

Do it well?

Seivana thirunda sei - Tamil Proverb

Translation(sort of) : What is worth doing is worth doing well

I would love it if, just once, there is one of these proverbs that will support me. But, no, everything that the wise have said always seems to run counter to what I want to do.

When I first heard this one about doing anything well, I was SO ecstatic. So, the time when my mom wanted to send me off to buy vegetables, I happily quoted this one at her and said,"I want to live by this proverb and since I cannot do this well, I'd rather not do it."

I thought I had the winning argument since, after all, the last time I bought some tomatoes, she took one look at them and said,"So, you paid him money and picked up all the rotten tomatoes that he  had thrown into the garbage?" Sounds more caustic in Tamil, actually - Avan vendaamnu vitterijadhai kaasu kudutthu porukkindu vandiyakkum? (Something, I bet, that SHE was told by HER mother in her day!).

So, did I win my point? NO WAY. All she told me was that it only meant that I had to do things to the best of MY ability and NOT necessarily in the best manner possible. So, I still had to go out to buy the veggies with further advice ringing in my ears - "It ALSO means that you learn from your mistakes and keep improving, not that you can always scrounge around in the garbage for vegetables, after paying the shopkeeper for the privilege." Parents!! They always find a logic to make you do what you do not want to do!

After that signal failure of the proverb to help me in any manner, you would have thought that I would abandon the advice it gave as being totally useless. I suppose I would have but some things seem to stick in my mind, as though they were coated in Fevicol, whether I like it or not.

So, yes, comes my working days, my boss used to be dancing around impatiently saying, "It is not really necessary for you to work out everything to 20 decimal accuracy. I need to give this in half-an-hour or be roasted over a low flame for days", while I was meticulously checking why the figure on the left column was 2874.99999999999, while the one on the right was 2875. To this day I think he blames me for every single white hair he has on his head though, to my knowledge, he has never yet featured in a barbecue as the center-piece because of me.

Over the years, I realized what my problem was - why I had to do as good a job as I could always. You see, the world has two types of people - those whose job is to DO and those who job is to tell how others have done. You need to get into the latter band-wagon as soon as possible - then YOU can make a nice living complaining about others not doing their jobs well and stop bothering about whether you are doing yours well. If, though, you get stuck in the first category...

It was much later in life that I did manage to reach the level that I always aspired for, from the time I heard this proverb. Since I can do NOTHING well, I DO nothing...now!

16 comments:

  1. Look at you,twisting this proverb to suit your ends.Only you could have thought of this interpretation.On second thoughts,this one-your interpretation is worth emulation,since i,belonging to the other class,am 'adhmara' by the time all my chores are finished :(.
    As far as the critics are concerned,we have a glut there,they just preen and preach.

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    1. I am sort of kinky that way :) Never could see things the way I am expected to see them :)

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  2. Now if only other self-proclaimed writers followed this dictum and returned to their day jobs.

    Not you. Ser Pounce says you need to get back to work on your short stories.

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    1. And THAT, I am sure, is not a catty remark - at least the portion that refers to me :)

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  3. I guess it is ok if your mothers do it, but it can be mortifying if the better half does it and that too on every single occasion you are arm twisted into shopping vegetables!

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    1. We all can, I think - all the lazybones of the world, I mean :)

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  5. I think proverbs should stop being simple and assume forms of legalese with all possible if s and but s... Hi hi.... For the sake of mothers :Đ

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  6. As a parent, oh yes, I see myself mouthing the same stuff to my kids. :D You are absolutely right. We all wish to progress to be the ones who tell others to do things instead of being the doers. Much less stress that way. Nicely written, Suresh.

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  7. Reminds me of another miscontrued saying: Aaj kare so kal kar, kal kare so parso, itni jaldi kya hai jab jeen hai barso! Honestly, what it is it with people and perfection. Yes, I enjoy observing perfection too, always easier than implementing it myself! Enjoyed this piece a lot!

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    1. This was misconstrued? :) I always thought that the OTHER one was misconstrued - 'Kal kare so aaj kar....'

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  8. Thank God I hadn't heard of this proverb. Would have stopped studying long back :) Most of us have the innate capability to be good armchair consultants..its rather unfair that not all of us get that chance.

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