Monday, May 25, 2020

Ascribing motives

One of the most favorite pastimes of humanity is probably this one of ascribing motives to the actions of other people. Pastimes? Not really. In a way, it is a subconscious way of life, a methodology by which we understand the world around us. Invariably wrongly, yes!

Let the philosophers prate that what happens around you and to you is not what causes you to be happy or unhappy; that it is how you interpret it all in your mind that does. All that guff gets nowhere with any of us, does it? We'd rather try to change the world around us than to try to see the world differently. It is the former, after all, which is seen as industriousness; the latter is mere day dreaming.

Like, say, you walk into office and one of the guys around doesn't respond to your greeting. You could think, "He must not have heard me" - and there are those who would go a step further and ask, "So you have ear-plugs on?"; you could think,"He doesn't like me" and sulk all day about why people do not think you are likable; you could think,"Ah! So he thinks he is too big to respond to my greetings" and plot to bring him down some time in the future...and so on. And, for all you know, the chap may just be nursing a severe hang-over and is too tired to respond.

Well, old man, old idioms. I could, of course, have said you posted a pic on Facebook and one of your friends did not 'Like' it. And you may think, "Maybe he did not see it." (It does not do to carry it too far even with this innocuous motive. I mean, if you further think that maybe he did not see it because he is sick and call him up, you may lead to the other guy ascribing motives to you. Like "Ah! So, he thinks only a sick person would not 'Like' his pic" or some such.); or you may...well, you get the point.

Go forth to the arena of work and things can get murkier. Like, you make a proposal, someone points out what he thinks is a flaw. And you think,"Maybe he has a point" (I know, unlikely, right? But, apparently, such people can exist, in theory at least!). Or you think,"What has he got against me?". Or you think,"Trust him to try to pull me down in whatever way". Or you think,"Why does he dislike me? If he liked me, he would not be finding fault with my work." And so on.

And, of course, what you think affects your mood for the day; affects your relationship with that other person, at least, if not with all others in the vicinity. Eventually, ends up carving out your personality. And once your reactions set themselves in stone, you get recognized for THAT sort of person, whatever that may prove to be.

And, if you prove to be the sort of person I am, then...

"It ALWAYS rains just when I have to go out. What has God got against me?"

Monday, May 18, 2020

Authors, Ho!

It has been said by many in my hearing that a lot of people seem to have mistaken the MBA for a Creative Writing degree, going by the number of authors who hail from that educational background. And there those others who murmur that, of course, it is a degree for Creative Communications for, after all, most of management is all about using learned jargon for common-place things. THAT is just envy, I tell you. (So what if I have said things like that myself? Did I ever say that I was NOT envious of others for being more capable? This habit of you guys, to think the worst of me ONLY when it suits you, is bloody irritating, I tell you.)

Data is a funny thing. If you see the percentage of MBAs among highly successful authors it seems like all MBAs have flocked to writing. See the MBAs, who wrote, as a percentage of all MBAs and the story seems different. I mean, really, they cannot be flocking to writing because the money here is better!

Comes to IIM-Bangalore, though, it seems really like there is some truth to all those canards about MBAs flocking to writing. I mean, yeah, Ravi Subramaniam is from there but really you do not know the story of my batch - the 1986-88 one. There is really reason to think that the wrong muse landed up when we were inducted.

First there is this chap - R.V. Raman - who ended up writing a quartet of books for Hachette and followed it up with one for Harper-Collins. Look him up at this author page if you do not believe me.

Then, with all humility (I CAN be humble, so there), there is moi. What was that? That writing a blog does not count, for that way most of the world will be in contention? I HAVE had a book published, drat you, even if the paperback was by a small publisher and the e-book was by me. Proof? Yeah, you will swallow ALL the fake news that anyone dishes out but ME you ask for proof? Well, then, you can check that out at A Dog eat Dog-food World. (I hope that none of my IIM profs see this. I daresay they will not be particularly happy to see that the ONLY use I made of my education there was to spoof management!)

Then, there is the third - Bhaswar Mukherjee. Sneaky guy, ain't I? Sort of putting him in third, making it appear like I outrank the guy in writing credentials. The chap, who Amitav Ghosh calls 'A writer of Promise'; whose story Ashwin Sanghi finds 'compelling and captivating'; and who Vinita Nangia finds 'an engaging storyteller'. Some of that managment education must have seeped in after all, making me creative in communications!

I wish the chap would have stuck to banking and acting in and directing plays. Why did he have to poke his nose into writing, especially if he will careen around getting selected by people like Neelam Saxena, Sudha Murty and all for publication in anthologies curated by them? And then go on to get into the top ten in FIVE of the contests conducted by TOI Write India AND even win one of them? I mean, how am I supposed to go and boast to my batch about MY writing? RV Raman made it difficult enough and now this guy!

AND, now, he gets a selection of his short stories published by Readomania, some of which are the TOI Write India stories.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Proof, right? Well, go check it out at It Happens.

One thing is for sure. Three from ONE batch is bad enough. If there are more, I'm sure IIM-Bangalore will seriously consider replacing the certificates of management education for this entire batch with one for creative writing!

Monday, May 11, 2020

False Friends?

"So now I know who are my real friends. So many false friends who did not even bother to check if I was OK in this Covid-19 lock down"

It's truly amazing how much one can learn from this Covid. I mean, even in my wildest dreams, I never thought to use this period to learn about who my true friends are. ("Ah! So, you claim you are capable of thinking?" you say? I can, thank you very much, it's just that I haven't tried so far.)

Quite true, isn't it? How could someone really care for you and remain happily ignorant of how you are doing in these troublesome times? Anyone who had an iota of concern for you would obviously want to know whether you are all right. And, yet, you know what, this intelligent soul who decided to use this yardstick for identifying her friends got such a lot of flak.

Social media, I tell you. They only need a reason to outrage and off they go, delving into their whole stock of abuses; selecting them with care or with gay abandon, depending on their personalities; and hurling them into the vastness of the Internet. 'Narcissistic', 'So that's all you can think of when people are suffering' and so on and so forth. All because the poor soul just wanted to find out who really cared and who didn't?

You know, the interesting thing is that these false friends were blissfully ignorant, had no conversation about the health and well-being of that poor soul, at all. And, as they say, it takes at least two to get into a conversation, unless you have multiple personalities crowding inside you and talking to each other.

AND it takes a particularly self-centered person to BE in a conversation, these days, especially with the other person seeking to know of their well-being, and NOT ask about how the other person is doing. So, the question really is:

'Did YOU care enough to call the other person to check on THEIR well-being?'

Monday, May 4, 2020

In the moment

"I don't understand this 'Carpe Diem' thing", I said.

"So, what else is new? If you understood something...anything...THAT would be worth telling."

Yeah, I know and I know you are wondering why I keep giving people openings to take digs at me. But, then, the only way for me to avoid being the butt of such comments would be for me to say nothing at all. And that is certainly not an option.

"But this 'Carpe Diem'. Don't tell me you understand it. The same guys who tell you to 'live in the moment' also tell you to plan for the future. Contradictory, I tell you."

"That is what I would expect you to think. After all, you are the guy who never did understand that the effort you put into learning a subject had a direct impact on your grades."

"You mean, it mattered? That if I had sat up and studied..." I took a look at his face and said hastily, "Leave it. It's not like I am going to improve any grades now by understanding it."

"Yeah! Leave it", he muttered. "Knowing you, you'd then start reading up on the circulatory system and expect your BP to get under control because you spent hours reading that up."

"Will it...Leave it. But this 'Carpe Diem' thing..."

"Let me tell you in a way you will understand. Not that anything can make you understand but this is the simplest I can make it."

Swallowing the whiny words that threatened to erupt from my throat, I looked at him expectantly.

"Look, if you have an important meeting on Monday morning, do you binge drink on Sunday evening?"

"Of course not! Cannot meet my boss with a hangover when I meet him for a performance review."

"Ah! So THAT's the most important meeting you can think of."

"What else..." I started when he shushed me with an abrupt gesture.

"So then you plan to either binge on Saturday evening or limit your drinking on..."

"Binge on Saturday!"

"Yeah, thanks, just what I needed to know!" he said. 

Was that a tinge of sarcasm...well, as he so likes to say, if it was, what else is new?

"THAT is planning for the future."

"I asked you about..."

"I know. Carpe Diem. Live in the moment. So, tell me, when you ARE drinking on Saturday evening, are you worrying about the hangover you will have on Sunday morning? Or just savoring the moment?"

"What's the point worrying about the hangover when you are drinking? If you were so worried about it, you would not drink, would you?"

"And THAT is Carpe Diem! You plan for the future, fine. But you experience the present. If you only think about the tomorrow's consequences or what you lost compared to yesterday, is it of any use?"

Hmmm. Put that way, it sort of made sense. Though, whether I will remember it tomorrow...

Carpe Diem, buddy, carpe diem. Enjoy the fact that you understood it NOW!