Monday, April 30, 2018

How you ought to live - III

This micro-managing of life, it is not all about 'How you ought to eat'  though that has been the most vexing thing for me. I mean, yeah, I am of those who 'live to eat' but I do not much fancy the idea of living my whole life learning how to eat. I have accepted being inept in almost everything but to make me feel inept even in the act of eating was going a bit too far.

That does not mean that this micro-managing has stopped at eating, though. What irritates the most is that first the defined way you ought to live your life makes a career choice for you and, then the damn career choice starts defining all the rest of your life.

Take the clothing, for example. I know, I have wept copiously all about it, raged at that sartorial strangler that people call a tie, fumed at the fact that people expected me to swelter in the heat of an Indian summer in three piece suits...(Awright! I did not say I DID all that, did I? Just because people expected it, I could not walk around with sweat pouring down me like I were some sort of walking fountain. Not that I do not spout sweat anyway.). You know, the funny thing is that, once you pick a career, you automatically are restricted in what you can choose to wear. "Who would think you are a manager, if you lounge around the house in a lungi?"; "Come on! You are a doctor! How can you be pottering around in shorts that have never seen a detergent in their life?"; "Walk around in grease-stained overalls and people will take you for a mechanic, not an engineer." Familiar? I mean, even a Swamiji has a dress code. Would you take someone in Bermudas and T-shirts for a god-man? (AND, yes, I'd rather not talk about the 'How you ought to dress' for a woman - that will take a whole book and will still leave a lot unsaid).

Do I really need to say anything about gelled hair, unkempt beard, tattoos and the rest? I mean, really, if I had my eyebrows pierced and a ring through it, tattoos on my cheek, and hair streaked in technicolor, would PwC let me even get INTO the interview room for a top management position? Ergo, once you are into a career, there is a whole new guidebook on 'How you ought to live".

Even unto where you eat when you are out of office. "You are in middle management and you want to eat in a dhaba? What will people think?" (Yeah, the same people who have nothing better to do than think horrid things about all the people they know). By and large, what they WOULD think is either that you are raving mad or that you are a miser. It would never cross their mind that you may eat in a dhaba because you like that food. Of course, if they thought that, they would put it down to your 'low' tastes. (That, though, is a problem of a lack of inventiveness on my part, I understand. Some genius invented the term 'Street food' and, now, it apparently is a rage. Alas! I did not understand that it was enough to use a sophisticated term to make an act seem sophisticated).

Needless to say, you cannot make the choice of house, car, mobile...anything without first checking out on 'what people will say' considering your job. You cannot even potter around on your holidays, doing nothing much other than watching grass grow. Oh! No! You should first stress about tickets and visas, go to a trendy destination abroad and rush breathlessly around, fearing to miss something that you ought to have seen while there. (AND, nowadays, when all you want to do is crash out in the night, you still have to properly upload all the pics on Instagram/Facebook/what-have-you before you are allowed to sleep. Sounds more like work, doesn't it?)

And I thought the whole idea of adulthood and making money was to be free to make your own choices! Not that I live as I ought to live my life. Wearing tracks and tees may have made me seem a sportsman but that huge bulge in the middle rather spoils the effect. Net result is that I am probably being taken to be insane.

If it is sane to strangle yourself with a tie, give me insanity any day!

Monday, April 23, 2018

How you ought to live - II

I had no idea that there was so much micro-managing possible when people set out to decide how other people ought to live. I was sort of relieved once I got to college, assuming that being told how I ought to live was all done and dusted now that I had succumbed to all that advice. How wrong I was.

I mean, fine, you sort of expect people to tell you what sort of job you ought to go into and all that. They have a vested interest in it - after all, if they are laboring to provide you with cars, they want to be sure that you would be laboring to provide them with food or some such thing. Nothing galls you more than to find that someone is happily living without working for it - it makes you feel such a fool for not finding a way to do it yourself.

Like I said, that would be fine, but what I did not expect was all this "How you ought to eat" and such. I mean, yeah, even when I eat with my hands, parents got into the act saying that I ought to eat with only my fingers and not soil the palm of the hand (except when it comes to Rasam Rice - I defy anyone to eat it only with his fingers if it is to be properly savored). AND to get it to streak all the way to the elbow and licking it from there up - that was a strict no-no. I sort of got the point - for, obviously, you end up getting the food all over the clothes that way and, in that day of no washing machines, it would be such a bother for your mother to wash them off.

You can understand my surprise when I found that it was not the way I ought to eat at all. Society - by which I suppose one means all those neighbors, peers and 'friends' who have nothing better to do than pass criticism on whatever you do - taught me I was doing it all wrong. How I ought to eat was, apparently, with a fork, knife and spoon. There I was, back to getting food-stains on my clothes (if you have found a way to balance that damn napkin so you keep all your clothes clean, enroll me in your correspondence course), wondering if dropping the food on my belly, instead of into it, would feed me by osmosis.

No point waxing lyrical about it. My experiences of chasing food all over the plate with a fork and hitting a pea for a six is chronicled elsewhere. Suffice to say that, over a long period of time when I dreaded the ordeal that every meal posed, I managed to eat without dropping food on myself not more than four to five times a meal. I wonder though at the vagaries of society. I mean, really, why would any rational society want me to waste my time learning skills which I would not really have needed if I could only use my hands? I probably keep them cleaner than the servant maid keeps my cutlery.

And then I get another shock. I go with a group of friends to a authentic Chinese restaurant and get handed a couple of sticks. Just as I was wondering whether I was supposed to duel with them to earn my lunch, and was eyeing the forks and spoons longingly, the other guys start picking up the sticks and shoveling food into their mouth with them. Great! I mean, really, I'd have thought eating was about the only thing I could do without great trouble and the world seemed to have gone to great...err...trouble to make it as troublesome for me as possible. Imagine having to learn to eat, all over again, every time you change restaurants!

Apparently, it is sophisticated to eat Chinese food the Chinese way; Western food the Western way. As I try to fork my masala dosa and carry it to my mouth without dropping the stuffing on my belly button, I wonder why the hell is it so unsophisticated to eat Indian food the Indian way?

Yeah, I know, very gauche of me but will someone explain that to me please?

Monday, April 16, 2018

How you ought to live

By now it is no surprise to anyone that the only two grey cells in my brain are not on talking terms with each other. So, I obviously have great difficulty in deciding how I ought to live. Thankfully, though, the world is full of people who spend a lot of time on thinking about and telling you about how you ought to live. Why, some of them are so altruistic that they spare no time to even think of how they ought to live!

It all starts with parents. (Yeah, I am single and have not sat on the other side of the table. So?)  Oh, I am not really going to talk of this 'Brush your teeth in the morning" thing. The fact that my reasoned argument that I never had seen cows queue up at the dentist though they never brushed their teeth was...err...brushed aside still rankles but still...And as for my pleas that going to school was not exactly how I thought I ought to live...(I know! You are wishing heartily that I had succeeded and, thus, never learned to write. You do not need to keep telling me.)

No, I was not going to talk about that. (What was that? I have already talked about that rather too much? Stop heckling, will ya?). There are more important issues to talk about.

You know, when you are a child and have no thought beyond the next chocolate or ice-cream and you get called to meet your mommy's friends, you know what is going to happen. Other than being asked to recite 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' and wiggle your hips to the latest Bollywood hit, that is. You guessed get asked, "What do you want to become when you grow up?" AND you, manfully swallowing all those ideas of becoming an ice-cream vendor (Yeah! I know! I was a effing child, damn it. So what if I thought that the vendor got to eat all the ice-creams he wanted?), say something like 'Pilot', 'Astronaut' or 'Shah Rukh Khan' or "Prime Minister". And then they all go 'Hoo' and 'Haw' and 'Cho Chweet' and that aunty from next door pinches your cheeks and hugs you while you are squirming to get away so that you can play with your friends instead of being played with by your mommy's friends.

If you only knew that is the last time of your life that they are going to ask you that question. I mean, when it is really time to choose what you ought to do, it is all 'Become an Engineer', 'Become a doctor', 'An MBA' and what not with nary of thought of asking you what you wanted to become. And even when someone rarely asks you and you answer, you hardly ever get a 'Cho Chweet', though you CAN do without your cheeks being pinched. THEN it is a litany of why what you want to do is about the most stupid thing to do, ranking next only to the dinosaurs thinking that they could live in ice.

Once you start life off being told what you ought to do, it is rather rich for people to expect that you can decide it for yourself later in life.

But, actually, people do NOT think so, they only think that you can do it for other people. And you do just that all your life...tell other people how they ought to live!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Timely Help

Kaalatthaal seidha udhavi siridheninum gnalatthin maana peridu - Tirukkural

Timely help, however low in value, is worth more than all the world - Loose translation.

There I was, as usual, with a friend asking for advice. (I know, by now you are wondering why I go to the guy since I invariably get the stick but what can I do? All my friends are like that)

"Rohit is so ungrateful, yaar. I mean, you know at yesterday's party to celebrate the success of his venture he was going on and on about some Rs. 50000/= that Shyam had lent him when he was starting out. And not a word about the five lakhs I lent him just a week back."

AND the chap comes out with that tagline at the beginning of this post. What is with these guys, they cannot formulate their own sentences and have to come out with obscure quotes that make no sense. I mean, the idea of the world being worth less than Rs. 5000/= (though they do say that with climate change and all...).

I asked him rather peevishly what he meant and he says, "Well! At that time, no-one was willing to risk lending money to him and Shyam did. Which is why he could even start this venture, which is now such a success. Now, people are queuing, if not you, someone else would have given him."

"Come on! I have given him ten times the money. And I would have given him then but my FD was maturing only in another six months and you know what interest loss would have been there if I had broken the FD then."

"So, you will help only when it is convenient to you not when the other guy needs it. What's the point talking to you anyway? If someone is dying of thirst at your doorstep, you are the sort of guy who will want to finish your shave and morning ablutions, dress up so that you can go out and give him a glass of water. It will not even cross your mind that he may die of thirst before you are done."

"There you go too far. When have I ever shaved, with this beard? AND my idea of dressing is only shoving a T-Shirt over my torso, so..."

His eyes were bulging and throat working convulsively. Before he went down on his haunches and started croaking, I asked, "Are you alright?" while slowly edging towards the door.

Thankfully, the chap recovered though his face looked like a sun-burnt tomato.

Clearing my throat nervously I asked him,"So, you were saying..."

"Listen! Who would the Ambanis respect? The chap who lent them a lakh when Dhirubhai Ambani was trading polyester yarn in his initial days or the banker who lends them thousands of crores now?"

I wanted to ask who that chap was, and whether there was such a chap, but one look at his red face and I stopped. No-one can say I am not concerned about my friends.

"Well?" he asked.

"I think that it must be...err...the banker. After all, the chap would want his money back with interest whereas, you know, bankers..."

There was such a dreadful noise from him that I fled precipitately. Now, I cannot seek any clarification from him...he has apparently been diagnosed with chronic hypertension and been told to avoid all stress. AND, you know, he and his wife seem to have misheard the doctor and assumed he said 'avoid Suresh' when he said 'avoid stress'.

So, now, will someone please tell me why Rohit is right in praising Shyam and not me? I'm sure he is not but if you think so...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Becoming modern

You know, as you keep aging you keep getting dated. The bell-bottoms, which were the acme of fashionable dressing, make people think that you are a clown escaped from a circus. The hair poking out of the neck of your shirt is no longer macho - only a sign of bad grooming identifying you as a chap who does not know the use of wax. The less said about the belly region, the better.

No-one can say that I do not try, though. Ah! No, I have not taken to wax, now, I mean I am actually glad that hair grows somewhere even if not on the head. But in behavior, most certainly I try...I really do. Why even the other day...

I walked into my office and saw my subordinate coming towards me.

"Expectation is the cause of all disappointment", I said with a smile. "Good morning".

The chap had a pained look on his face that I could not account for. Oh! Well! Must be suffering from dyspepsia, I thought, and walked past serenely.

You know how it is...the one chap you can happily live without seeing is the one guy who bumps into you everywhere. So, the next guy to come in my way was my peer and rival. Well, one cannot make it too obvious that you hate the sight of him. Politeness, yes politeness, that's the watchword.

"To know that you do not know is the first step to wisdom", I said politely. "Good morning."

The guy looked furious but he always looks furious when he sees me. Just not good enough an actor to keep his rivalry from warping his face, unlike me.

Who should I bump next into but my boss?

"Assessing what is said without regard to who is saying it is the hallmark of wisdom. Good morning, Sir", I said and went to my seat.

I had barely relaxed with a cup of tea when my subordinate barged in.

"So, I am not getting my promotion now, is that it? I am supposed to keep my expectations low?"

"What? Why...I..."

The door slammed open as my colleague walked in.

"So, I know nothing, do I? You are the wise know-it-all..."

I had barely taken in my breath before the peon came in with the summons from the boss.

"How dare you call me a fool? Just because you were proved right the last time when I overruled your opinion...Here! This will show you who the fool is."

"Out of a job merely because I was trying to become modern", I whined to my friend.

"What had becoming modern got to do with..."

"Well! You know how it is in WhatsApp. All those memes along with the morning wishes? I thought that this was the modern way to wish..."

There was a weird noise, suspiciously like retching, from my friend.

"Why do you want to apply WhatsApp ideas in real life? If someone cracks a joke do you laugh or hold up a smiley?"

Well, I do not know why they do on WhatsApp what they won't do in real life. But...

A more horrid thought crossed my mind. So, in real life, I cannot just say 'ROFL' for a good joke? I would actually have to roll on the floor laughing? Ye Gods!

AND who on Earth really wants to see me actually doing a ROFLMAO?