Monday, March 26, 2018


I may have mentioned this before. I really do have very peculiar notions of most things in life. No wonder whenever I am in a group of people, there is this air of people in a zoo looking at the duck-billed platypus or some such rarity. So, it really is no surprise that what I thought discussions meant was at wide variance from the rest of the world.

The problem, you see, is that I tend to take the meanings of words too seriously. So, yes, I used to think of discussions as happening between people who may or may not have opinions but are inclined to talk to other people to find out whether their opinions are right or whether they needed to change them. I know, I know, that's a pretty stupid idea of what discussions were all about.

I should have known better, I suppose. I mean, I do know that when people get together the main thing that interests them is how THEY impress other people. It is hardly ever about seeing how the others impress them but even THAT is possible. The idea of people actually wanting to LEARN from others to modify their opinions, unless it is something useful like how to make a chicken curry, is so ludicrous as to not be acceptable even in a fantasy trilogy.

If only I had known that, I would have known that whenever someone trots out an opinion, all he expects from me is appreciative noises and "How knowledgeable you are" and "How did you even think of this. Wonderful!" - all without even the remotest tinge of sarcasm in the tone. THAT's a discussion! A contra-opinion? Facts that oppose his conclusions? Are you mad? (Oh! Yes! There are most certainly discussions where there are people who love putting down other people's opinions in order to feel good about themselves. In which case, the following would be said by THEM and not by the guy who set this opinion game going.)

"Oh! If that is what you think" would greet you, if the man has some semblance of politeness.

"Well, obviously you know everything so why am I even trying to tell you things." if the chap feels truly irritated.

"Says the guy who thought that a black hole was a cigarette burn in his shirt" That, yes, would be the obnoxious lout whose only use for a sense of humor is to ridicule others, especially if it seems like they would prove him wrong. Strangely, though, that seems to be the most appreciated sense of humor, which goes to show that being able to look down on someone else for a change is quite a popular thing.

AND, if you ever get into this 'discussion' with the teens, you will get that wonder-word, "Whatever!"

So much for discussions. NOW I have understood what I am supposed to do.  Make appreciative noises . AND then comes technology to mess things up for me.

NOW, in social media, a discussion means groups of people lining up on either side of a fence and metaphorically throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes at each other.

By the time this new definition seeps fully into the real world, and Business starts genetically modifying hens and tomato plants to directly yield rotten eggs and tomatoes to keep up with the demand, I hope I will be the 'late so-and-so'.

What I am worried about is if it also hit the after-life. Then it will be inescapable for eternity.

I sure hope that Hawking is right and there IS no after-life, after all!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Homo Contradictus

God must have been in a particularly capricious mood when he created us humans. Or, perhaps, like all of us, he left everything to the last moment and, when he felt the deadline pressure of those 7 days, bunged in the brain without properly debugging it. As usual in such cases, it is we who have to live with the consequences.

Take as simple a matter as food, for example. I mean, do you ever salivate at the thought of that low calorie meal, no matter how yummy they claim the recipe to be? Does the thought of a bitter-gourd smoothie or a cabbage soup make you lick your lips and pounce on it the moment it is in your vicinity? (I still retch at the smell of boiling cabbage after going on a diet that seemed to mainline on it) Just get a distant whiff of a baking cake or the heavenly aroma of frying pakoras and try keeping the saliva from pouring out of the mouth like a Niagara! This thing of everything you like being unhealthy and everything healthy seeming unsavory - I mean, come on, how difficult could it have been to wire the brain and body to like what is good for it?

Then there is this weird code that seems to have been exclusively reserved for human brains. I mean, come on, ever seen an animal cause suffering to itself because of what other members of the herd would think? Can you convince a monkey to keep off the local bananas so that it can afford a half-meal of an imported banana a day, nicely wrapped though it may be, so that it can impress the other monkeys? "Nuts to you. They will not be impressed, they will only think me silly and, even if they are, why should I starve myself to impress them?", it would say. Or get a female bear to wax its legs? "WHAT?? If that bloody Bruin does not like the damn hair, there are a lots more where he came from" would be the probable response. And try telling it to wax the legs not for the male bears, oh no, but for the other female bears...And yet, that's the funny thing with the way the human brain is wired. Each one of them, left to themselves, may find it better to 'eat the local bananas' or 'keep the wax for the candles' but the fact that ALL are in agreement with that option somehow does not suffice to keep them from opting for the other, more torturous option. One rather wonders if God was really smoking something that day.

The only consolation for me is that He must be getting paid back in His own coin these days. Once we run the marathon of life and land up at His desk and ask Him for our rewards...well, good luck to you, God, trying to figure out whether we are asking for what we really want or what we think we ought to want. Sooner or later, a badly-written code does become a headache for the one who wrote try debugging THIS!

Monday, March 12, 2018


I really need someone to explain this opinions thing. I mean, yeah, it is not like I never had any, I have some but the problem seems to be that I am one of those mundane guys who can only have opinions about things that directly impinge on me. You know, like this summer is too hot this year, onions have become too expensive/never been cheaper...things like that. Not really the sort of thing that people look up to and say,"Hey! How intellectual of the guy, let us share this."

Like, you know, Sridevi dies and the most I feel is a vague sort of sadness about the diva who captivated me in my youth. I mean, like, if I cross the road to avoid that man beating his wife and engage in prurient(and envious) gossip about the married colleague carrying on with that hot receptionist, I really could not see any reason to have an opinion about Boney Kapoor and her, even when it first happened, leave alone decades after and after she died. The guy next door, after all, affects my life more directly than some distant actress and I know more about the people concerned to know the rights and wrongs of it. If I did not bother to raise a voice about that, why even bother to have an opinion about distant happenings? (Precisely because of that? Lesser chances of getting bopped on the nose by the concerned parties? Ah!) But, apparently, the road to popularity lies through having such opinions. Alas! Now I know why I languish in obscurity.

But I cannot blame it all on luck, you know. I also do not happen to have the necessary intelligence. I mean, yeah, I am sort of looked on as a dimwit but this is one of those occasions when I have to sort of agree that it could be true. There are things that everyone knows of, but does not know or understand enough to have informed opinions know, the sort of economic things that everyone talks of and you remain as ignorant before you started hearing them...or, if anything, a lot more confused. I have generally stayed off having opinions about things I do not understand...exactly why I suppose I really belong in that crowd of dimwits.

For one, if everyone around you is equally as ignorant, then it is easiest to have an opinion...after all, no-one can call you ignorant if nobody knows enough to do so. Secondly, if it is worth having an opinion about, it necessarily will be a controversial topic, which means it will have strong supporters as well as opponents. In which case, anyone disputing you can be called names, made out to be one of the 'blind' supporters or opponents, depending on your stance, and vilified. It is simpler, of course, if you start vilifying the person proposing/opposing the policy while you vilify/support the policy itself for, that way, you set the right tone for the discussion where you can participate without having to understand. As in, once you do that, all that will ensue is name-calling , which only requires a rich understanding of swear words, and from that point on who cares what the policy is all about anyway?

Learning too late has always been my bane. I think I may end up being unable to impress anyone with my opinions.

Any opinions on that?

Monday, March 5, 2018


I hate change! Oh! I know, you guys will all come around preaching sententiously that change is the only constant and I should not be such a stick-in-the-mud and all the huge collection of cliches that pass for wisdom in the world. But...I HATE CHANGE.

Maybe, just maybe, if the darned thing happened in small doses, I could have swallowed it with a grimace and moved on. But this goddamn deluge of it is really getting on my nerves. And, as for the way it insouciantly wipes out a whole lifetime of acquired wisdom and renders you as much an incompetent as you were in your teens...

First to go was my much vaunted vocabulary. Times were when someone who encountered an unknown word in a book used to turn to me asking me for the meaning. Now I sit eagerly by, running through all the difficult words in my mind to be ready for the quiz...and nothing happens. Have I been surpassed? Has everyone been memorizing the dictionary just to avoid giving me my few seconds of limelight? Not really...there is this dratted thing called Google, and some busybody fools who put up online dictionaries and all my hard-won knowledge rendered worthless...CHANGE! HELL!

I do not suffer alone, though. There is this relative of mine whose encyclopedic knowledge of the roads of his city was the envy even of the city planners. Every time you were in a car, driving from place X to place Y, he was the central figure. Imagine his plight when a newbie driver from another city picks him up, and he is all geared up to impress with his navigational skills and the insensitive chap switches on some gizmo which guides him step by step leaving all the accumulated knowhow of our man fizzing inside him without outlet. His only consolation was,"What that woman did to 'Mariamman Koil Street' I would not do to my worst enemy" with reference to the lady voice guiding that insensitive lout.

Then one day, in comes my nephew, first job, first bank account and I see my chance of making him respect me (for the first time in his lifetime) with my wise words on which counter to go to get the withdrawal form, which to present it in and get a token, and whither lies the cash counter where the moolah will get handed out when his turn comes and...

"Shove your advice where the daylight does not shine, Uncle mio! I just walk into an ATM, swipe a card, enter my PIN and..."

Eeeks! What is all that mumbo-jumbo? Change has thrown me right back to my usual posture of abysmal ignorance, placed me metaphorically at his feet seeking to learn how to withdraw money from my account all over again.

Aha! But NOW I am equipped for the rest of my nephews who are yet to come of age. NOW I shall teach them how to handle their finances...

"Chuck all that crap! What do I want cash for? All I have to do is tap a few keys on my mobile and presto..."

Ugh! It has not even been a couple of years, God! This is CHAOS.

NOW, apparently, all you have to do is fly out of the shop waving your mobile...

Alas! I am too old to learn to fly by flapping my phone!