Monday, December 26, 2016

A Christmas rant

Ho! Ho! Ho! And a bottle of rum...

Err...maybe some wires got crossed. It is unlikely that Santa Claus comes roaring down chimneys, singing 'Ho! Ho! Ho! And a bottle of rum'. Fat chance he would have of locating stockings to put his toys in, if he did. Especially if that bottle of rum had already watered his innards.

Not that he actually has any stockings to put things into these days. I mean, if he insisted on them being hung up he would probably have a zillion people suing him for lack of customer care. After all, if it is his job to deliver toys on Christmas, is it not his duty to pack them appropriately in stockings instead of expecting the customer to supply the same? So what if it is even for is the principle of the thing.

Now that chap who did sing that 'Ho! Ho! Ho! And a bottle of rum' is unlikely to have any such issues. I mean a pirate is a pirate is a pirate. So, Long John Silver is more likely to ask you to walk the plank than deliver you the next best thing in iphones. AND, yes, if you were asked to bring along the plank yourself, you would fall all over yourself to oblige. After all, there are other options like keelhauling and the like, which he may opt for, if you failed to bring along the plank.

Which only goes to show that we really know where to complain and where to keep shut. So, the next time you feel free to rant about something to someone, just remember that you do feel that freedom because they are NOT Long John Silver!

AND, who knows, it may even strike you that you, too, could strive to make the other person choosing to express pleasure, instead.

Monday, December 19, 2016


If I move around in a permanent state of confusion, it is not my fault. Most of it is thanks to the fact that people are so complicated.

Just see what happens when someone writes a book. Everyone and his uncle starts screaming, “Where is my free copy?” By which, of course, you understand that they would all love to read his writing; it is just the price that is keeping them off reading it.

As usual, it was merely an interesting thing to watch as a spectator when it happened to others. When it happened to me, though, it required some action on my part.

You see, the problem is that I just could not afford to give so many free copies. And, yet, the thought of all these people thirsting to read my book, and shedding copious tears about their inability to do so, was so heart-rending.

In a bid to slake their thirst, I cast around for a solution. Then it struck me. They could not buy my book, I could not give away so many copies but I did write a blog and THAT was free for all. So, why not point them at it and save their lives by quenching their thirst for my writing?

I did so…and they sniffed at it, turned up their noses and walked away as though I had offered them the job of washing my dirty linen.

Why?? They want my writing for free but they would not accept what is available for free. I could not fathom it. They wanted to read me for free, I gave them the option and, now, they indicate strongly that they would rather remain thirsty.

There I was, cast back into my usual state of incomprehension, and would have been wandering around in a daze but for a stray memory from the past.

In the long gone days, when we lived in Neyveli, we had a servant maid who complained perpetually of a pain in her chest. My mom, generous always, took her along to the Neyveli General Hospital and used her connects to get a free X-Ray done (ECG? We are talking of 60s here and ECGs were for metros). When the result was negative for any major issue, the maid came out with, “It was free so it is not well done. Had it been paid for, they would have done it well and found the real problem.”

Aha! THAT was the problem! People wanted it for free ONLY because it was priced! That usual thing of, “If it has no price, it has no value” that seems to have emerged with Capitalism. If it is free, it must be free only because it has no value. So, in Oscar Wilde’s terms, we are all cynics now who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Now I know, though, how to get people to clamor for my writing. I should make it a book, put it out at a price and then give them limited period offers to download for free…THEN there may be some value seen in the writing.

Should I start with charging a fee for this valuable advice to have people consider it valuable?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Words maketh a man

By now, I am sure, you are all convinced that the only mantra for success is to check out what I am doing and do the exact opposite. It is practically a social service for me to let you people know what I really do. Maybe time to write my autobiography...don't run away just yet. I have not started on it.

I have been mulling this thing of why people seldom get impressed by my contributions to a conversation. In the normal course, the polite chaps wait till I am done and take up where they left off as though I had never spoken at all. You know, like you pause your conversation to allow that growling monster of a truck to pass by and continue when you can be heard. The impolite...ah, leave them lie, when THEY start even I am not sure if I am speaking or even if I am really there.

Slowly, I came to realize why I never get my due (You wish the same? If I had got my due, I'd have been lynched long ago? Who asked you to butt in anyway?) It is all to do with the words I use.

I mean, take the case where someone says something which with I am partially in agreement. I generally tend to say, "I partially agree..." and leave the impression that the fact that I do not totally agree is because I am shy a few grey cells and cannot comprehend the rest. THAT word 'agree' tells the rest that the other chap is right and people, being incapable of seeing things other than in black and white, tend to see me as being in the wrong.

Consider the impact of "I partially DISagree..." There you go...the other guy has said something stupid and caused this rational, discerning chap to disagree. To have been so foolish as to consider both the same for so long...anyway, water under the bridge. I would anyway have mucked it up by explaining why I disagree. To sustain the impression, you should smugly say 'disagree' and leave the others to think that the only reason why you are not detailing the reasons is because the other chap is too stupid to understand them.

Take matters of Art. If I cannot appreciate something, I say something like, "I do not have the taste for poetry." THAT only causes people to see me as an inferior being with lack of good taste. Who would want to hang on the lips of a Neanderthal with no taste? (Never did understand this 'hanging on the lips'? THAT must be very painful to the owner of the lips, so why would he want others to do it? Oh! It means listen avidly, does it? Hmmm)

Consider, on the other hand, saying,"I am a very choosy reader." Ah! THERE is an artistic connoisseur, the very man before whom you hold out your bowl to catch every pearl of wisdom that drops off his lips. If you use that, be very careful not to say, as a follow-through, that you are so choosy that you read nothing but tweets.

Forget all these flights of fancy. I could not even master the simpler versions like, "If that is how you understand it..." The worst failing is not being able to be the first to say, "Let us agree to disagree." THAT one effectively is the equivalent of 'You think you are intelligent. I do not. So, let us agree to disagree" for the rest of the audience, who are sick of the two of you arguing, and the trick is to be the first to say it.

As with most things, the wisdom comes too late for me. AND, as they say, 'Those who can, do. Those who cannot...'

Monday, December 5, 2016

Outdated lessons

When, like me, you learn anything at all under protest and with much grief at being put through the torture, it is heartbreaking to find that you have spent all that effort in learning the wrong lessons. It is not even as if it was all because of this irritating technological advances - like the way it rendered my learning of how to use the log tables irrelevant. THESE lessons I could have learned properly anyway and, instead, messed up.

I had always been told that, when discussing something, argue or oppose the point that is being said. It is not merely bad manners but also useless to be criticizing the person saying it. It also shows an intellectual lack in you that you are unable to assess and counter a point and choose to call the other person names, instead. (You see what I meant in one of my earlier posts about not knowing the right words? I could have said 'ad hominem' and made myself sound SO erudite)

I adopted that as my norm for behavior and, consequently, have converted myself into a figure of fun. True, one always expects blind believers to end up calling you names instead of arguing the logic but I did expect that I would find some acceptance with the ones with some intelligence and an open mind. That lot used to be called liberals and there were a few of them loitering around Society when I started out.

Now, though, I find that I was all wrong about the idea of who is a liberal. If you argue against a blind believer, he would call you an idiot at best and an anti-national, anti-motherhood, anti-religious, anti-... at worst. THAT I knew. What I did not know was that if someone said, "Tell me, do you also believe that pigs have wings?" instead of outright calling me a fool, it was liberal of him. To think that I had not realized that an ability to insult without having to resort to crude name-calling was so necessary to being intellectual! To further think that I even lack the ability to see that they are different! And the crowning blow is that fact that I still do not realize completely that only the wimps and wusses still argued the issue, instead of insulting the person espousing them.

I should have known better. I never SAW the people, who advised me, actually arguing the issue. It was almost always,"What can I expect from you? Your reading is still at the picture-book stage" and things like that when they are opposed by anyone. The thing was that they told me,"Do as I say; not as I do" and I followed THAT instruction blindly.

NOW, I hear people say how the world is becoming intolerant of other opinions and how the need of the hour is for more tolerance and all that. I am wise to it, albeit belatedly. What they really mean is that those other idiots who do not agree with them need their minds opened, by surgery if necessary. Not that THEY should also become tolerant of other opinions. How can they even entertain the thought, anyway, since that other chap is merely an ill-educated, unthinking bigot or an anti-national Presstitute?

After all, we now live in times when, if he is MY Mahatma, he can do no wrong and, if he is MY Hitler, he can do no right. If there are any left in the world, who still do not believe in 'If you are not for me, you are against me' with no neutral ground permitted, they are probably still in Kindergarten.

Like me, mentally. No wonder people refuse to treat me as an adult. Thankfully, though, there seem to be a few more like me - even if they do not always agree with my own opinions - and we grown-up kids can hold requiems in our own social media echo chambers.

While the world at large screams intolerantly for more tolerance.