Monday, August 26, 2019


kaRka kasadaRak kaRpavai katrapin niRka adhaRkuth thaga - Thirukkural

Whatever you learn, learn flawlessly and thoroughly; and live in accordance to those tenets - Loose translation

The thing about Tiru is that, after you have a dose of him, you get a whole new appreciation of how lenient your parents really are. Even if, right from their 'good morning' to their lullaby, their sole litany is your school grades. I mean, yeah, they do really push it but, honestly, do they ever expect perfection from you? (Yeah! Well! They know you too well, no matter how doting they are as parents. Perfect? You? HA!)

But Tiru...! The chap does not even know the guys he is talking to and he will settle for nothing less than perfection. Learn thoroughly? Flawlessly? He really expects that you will understand what you are learning completely without any misunderstanding of the concepts? Cloud Cuckoo Land stuff, really. Yeah, one can give some leeway for the fact that he does not know you personally but still...I mean, is it even human to expect it? And, LIVE by those tenets? As if anyone was learning for anything more than getting a good grade, even in his times.

Apparently, in his times what people considered education was morality, social behavior, human interactions and things like that. You know, it seems like fantasy really. I mean, can you really imagine a time where you were left to learn the STEM subjects on the job and taught ONLY the so-called humanities? And they called THAT education. But well, those were ancient times, so understandably they had no exposure to modern ideas of education where you only teach the STEM subjects and allow the humanities to be learned on the job, in a manner of speaking.

So, anyway, LIVE by those tenets did not really mean that, if you were a programmer, you had to live a life seeing things in 'zeros' and 'ones', since programming itself would not have been on the syllabus of that education system. So, Tiru was expecting people to live by the morals that they learned, adopt the social behavior they were taught and so on and so forth...and the chap does not even allow you the leeway to claim that you misunderstood the thing cos you get no brownie points for that. You are supposed to learn thoroughly and flawlessly, remember?

Anyway, that's all to let you guys know how much simpler it is for you guys now. All you need to get from your education is grades and you keep whimpering about pressure. Just think of Tiru's students!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Dealing in absolutes

"I am afraid that Kunal is no good to do unplanned trips with. He is too used to comforts and keeps complaining if things are a bit rough." I was saying when my friend cut me short.

"I don't like talking ill of friends like this"

Huh? What exactly was that? I mean, yeah, I would not like to go on impromptu trips with Kunal again, and was saying so, but 'talking ill of him'? It is not like I even thought of him as some sort of evil entity to shun, leave alone saying so. My comment was, I thought, more like saying 'He does not like aaloo'. You get what I mean? A comment on things to do with him, and things to avoid, more than character assassination but... and, anyway, I suppose food is not the best of metaphors to choose these days. It seems to lead to real assassinations, leave alone character assassinations.

But this is a problem that irks me these days. If it is a friend you are speaking of, you either are to be uniformly complimentary or you are being a bad friend? Seems to me that this attitude of being absolute about things is all over Society these days. You are either absolutely FOR a person, which seems to mean every single facet of him, or you will be considered absolutely AGAINST him.

I mean, what, all those guys who casually comment about how my head creates a halo around me in bright sunlight are not my friends because they are making fun of my baldness? More fool I, then, to have not considered that a 'true' friend would say nothing negative about me. I'm still not convinced, though. Like, yes, I'd not say that I'd prefer not to sleep in the same room as Vinay, considering that he is what my cousin chooses to call a 'sound' sleeper (and THAT, my friends will tell you, is the pot calling the kettle black, if THAT phrase is still permissible), but that does not mean that I do not like or respect Vinay or that I have turned against him totally because he spoiled a night's sleep for me. And saying that he does snore fit to wake up the dead is NOT the same as trashing his character, as far as I am concerned.

But, then, I should have known that this absolutism is the bedrock of human behavior. I mean, how many times have I heard 'He? He cannot even string a sentence properly in English." as a firm refutation of the chap's ability to compose music. As though the ability to flawlessly recite 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' from memory is the foundation on which musical ability rests. The basic idea seems to be that, if the chap was no good at one thing, he has to be no good at everything.

And the number of times you would have seen the corollaries! The fact that A is a better poet than B being cited as a triumphant rebuttal of an attempt to call B a better businessman than A, and such other major flights of human logic. I SHOULD have known that absolutism is deep-wired into the human DNA.

If our daily interactions take this sort of absolutist tinge, it is no wonder that, when it comes to politics or religion, we refuse to see any right in the opponent or any wrong in the leader of our own choice. I mean, a friend is merely someone I support and I cannot say or listen to ANY single negative comment on him without considering it a total denigration of my friend's character (and respond by trashing the chap who made that comment? YES!). SO what then about a leader who I FOLLOW? THAT chap obviously can do no wrong and it is only the evil spawn of Satan who will point fingers at him.

And so it goes. Bit by painful bit I learn that all this process of logical thinking, which I learned so painstakingly, is totally useless and only alienates me from my fellow human beings. I am trying to unlearn it and become a better human being but, alas, I fear that by the time I fully imbibe it, it will be too late.

Monday, August 12, 2019

I told you so

There are few pleasures in the world that can compare with the sheer joy of saying "I told you so". Very rare is the person who gets the opportunity to do it and refrains from taking advantage of it. Parents may plead and teachers scream that it is not good manners but, if it comes to a clash between good manners and pleasure, when had good manners ever won?

And, remember, it is very seldom that you feel that urge to say 'I told you so' when something good has happened as you predicted. It is almost invariably when you have predicted doom if a certain course of action is taken and it comes true. AND, for it to come true, you must have lost that argument and the other(s) must have opted for THAT course of action. Now, to have a defeat in an argument rankling inside you AND the opportunity to say 'I told you so' arises some time later...well, are we saints that we can stay silent?

To be sure, rubbing someone else's nose in the fact that he was wrong has very seldom, if ever, worked to convince him to correct himself. Even the most cloddish of people show surprising creativity and inventiveness in finding why they were not wrong after all. AND, I mean, yeah, we all say that we want to spread right thinking and right ideas and all that, true. But, like with good manners, when it comes to a clash between furthering your ideals and the sheer joy of rubbing the other guy's nose in his know what wins invariably.

The surprising thing, though, is that these days even the chap who won that argument also feels to need to parade 'I told you so'. Which means that it is now being used even when something good has happened as predicted by you.

Only goes to show that people are nowadays so surprised that they got something right, probably because it happens so very seldom, that they cannot afford to let go of any opportunity to exult.

There, now, I knew someday the world will catch up with me. So what if it is only on the way down?

Monday, August 5, 2019


You know, this advice thing, it seems neither blessed to give nor to receive as far as I am concerned. ('For you, nothing ever can be blessed', you say? And whose fault is it? It is because I am surrounded by people like you...). I mean, like I have never seen that it has been useful to either give the damn thing or to receive it.

Of course, I do not mean advice about things like 'How do I make a sambar?'. I know, I have waxed eloquent about how angry it makes me to hear that dratted 'Salt to taste' but, broadly, it can be considered useful. This sort of Instruction Manual type advice about the material world is all fine and I have no complaints about them. Except, of course, when people ask me to MAKE all those things but that, I suppose, is just part of the risk of taking advice of this sort.

The problem comes with the other sort. The 'What do you think I should do?' sort of guidance advice or the ones where an instruction manual is sought for  hazy goals like 'How can I become more happy?' or 'How can I become more successful?' - things like that for which people rush to bookshops and queue up to grab the latest chap who 'sold his Ferrari' or 'maintained his motorcycle the Zen way' or some such.

When a chap comes with a 'What do you think I should do?' to me, it is time to be very wary indeed. Mostly it so happens that he has a preferred choice. The ones who say it in so many words are easier to deal with. You just have to agree with his choice and find a couple of additional reasons why that is the best option. The more difficult ones are the chaps who won't tell you what they prefer to hear from you. You tell them one thing and, if it happens to be their own choice, you are Solomon reborn. If you happen to choose a different option, you are in for an argument at the end of which you will discover that, from the first amoeba to you, brains have been conspicuous by their absence in your lineage.

And then you have the inveterate 'devil's advocates'. They may have a choice, they may not, but whatever you say they will take the opposite side of the argument. There is no winning an argument with them. The moment you agree that they are right and their choice is best, they will turn around and argue the other side, leaving you feeling rather stupid for having missed out all these arguments when YOU were arguing that side. In all probability, they would have been arguing with themselves endlessly in case you had not turned up as a convenient scapegoat.

And, as for the 'How to be happy?' or 'How to be more successful?' or THAT is the sort of thing that I have been finding that it is not blessed to receive advice either. I mean, over a period, I have been through hundreds of such books and I find that they largely end up saying the same things.

The problem, you see, is not in GETTING the damn advice. It is in the fact that I never did DO what they told me to do.

In THAT I think I am with the rest of the world. Else, why would people be rushing to bookshops or Amazon or the Internet for the 15th book teaching them how to be happy...other than for the fact that the first 14 did NOT make them happy.

Advice is easy. Unfortunately, results come only when you live according to the advice!

Too much work. I have stopped reading such books. Till someone tells me of one which will make me happy or successful or whatever merely by reading it.