Monday, May 29, 2023

Music has no language?

I did not understand this 'Music has no language' thingy to start with. I mean, music meant essentially film music for me and I could hardly enjoy it unless I could sing along with it. (Bray along? There you go, indulging in ad hominem right away. This voice-shaming should also get people cancelled, I tell you.) And I could hardly sing along in a language that I did not know, especially when others around me could know the language and take exception to the way I was mangling it...and not just verbally.

So, I chugged along, assuming that this 'no language' thing was another of those Zen things that everyone said, or nodded to, wisely with nobody really understanding what it meant...or if it even meant anything. Till, one day, the meaning of it sort of lit up like a lamp above a cartoon character's head. (Apt analogy for the me? Who asked you?)

(Intense music playing)

Those were the All India Radio days, when TV was talked about in the same hushed whispers as Armstrong landing on the moon. And, AIR in its wisdom used to suddenly take to hour long classical music concerts every now and then. The day I caught myself nodding my head and tapping my feet to one such WESTERN Classical symphony, possibly Mozart's 40th or some such, is the day I realized that I could enjoy music without language.

Yet, the same had never applied when I had tried to listen to music in other languages. Perhaps, for me, it was NECESSARY to ensure that there was no language distracting my attention before I could just appreciate the music. Else I seemed to need to appreciate both...or I rejected both.

And, as it happens, I took it as axiomatic that music had no language. That music directly communicated to the emotions without any need to know any language. Till recently, that is, when I suddenly discovered that I was wrong after all...or, to be accurate, right in my original assumption and wrong in changing my mind.

(Suspenseful music playing)

This change in attitude came out of watching movies on OTT. Those subtitles, really, put paid to all my erroneous notions about music being some sort of universal language. I mean, after all, people do not get paid to explain what sort of music is playing at any point in time if music directly communicated to the emotions without having to have a language translation running in the mind. Which meant that music was, probably, something that needed decoding, too. Such as 'eerie music', 'tense music', 'music of pathos', yada yada...without which the listener may break into a jig when funereal music is playing on screen.

Or, perhaps, like a friend of mine says, music probably does communicate directly to the emotions but, in these modern days, people have so lost touch with their emotions that they need someone to tell them the identity of the emotion that they are feeling. Seems quite plausible to me.

(Joyful music playing)

Monday, May 22, 2023

Intermittent Fasting

You know how it goes. You have never heard of a thing and are quite blissful not knowing about it. Someone mentions it once in your vicinity and, suddenly, it seems as though the world is obsessed with it going by how often you hear of that dratted thing over the next few days.

This is exactly how it went with me and intermittent fasting. Over the past few days I could hardly spend a minute without 'intermittent fasting' poking me in the nose from somewhere or the other. I go to a function and there it pops up in a feverish discussion among people who have just taken it up. I go on Youtube and there it appears again making it seem like half the world is trying to make a living teaching the other half about intermittent fasting. I go on Facebook and...ah, well, don't yawn, I can take a hint.

So, apparently, there are ways and ways of doing it. You can opt for the so-called 5:2 method where you eat normally for five days of the week and fast for 2 days i.e. consume about only 500 calories. You can opt to fast for a longish period of time every day. The 14:10, 16:8 or 12:12 methods where, unfortunately, the bigger number denotes the consecutive hours of fasting every day. (Yeah, yeah, in 12:12 it is all the same, so?) So, you fast for 16 hours and eat only in the other 8 hours if you opt for 16:8. You have alternative days, the 24 hour fast where you eat only once a day, the warrior diet...

So, when this feverish discussion was happening in that function, I piped up saying that I has been doing it all my life. I mean, like, it was not like I was shovelling food into my mouth every minute of the day. Between breakfast and my midmorning snack, I fasted; between my midmorning snack and lunch, I fasted...I mean I WAS fasting intermittently all day for all my life, so what was the big deal. There was such a concerted set of sneers in my direction that I shrivelled to a tenth my size (now if THAT does not show you how intermittent fasting helps reduce weight...). There was such an outpouring of how the long fast periods reduced insulin resistance and improved insulin sensitivity, about something called the Human growth hormone, about improved metabolism, yada yada, that I fled the battlefield in utter defeat.

But, you know what, the thing is all these great health changes was not why people wanted to go in for intermittent fasting. The primary...and, I daresay, sole...purpose was to lose weight. All the rest of it were only talking points. If the rest existed and weight loss did not happen, or was not needed, Intermittent fasting would only be as popular as a dose of castor oil in the morning.

Me, I fast intermittently. When my body threatens to outgrow my current wardrobe (Which, by the way, I keep as flexible as possible to circumference by using tracks for all purposes), I go on a crash diet and bring it down. Then it is business as usual till the next time the stitches on my tracks threaten to give way.

What was that? Yo-Yo dieting? Keep that for the kids. At my age, I cannot associate myself with marbles, tops and yo-yos. I need a for what I do, so it shall be called fasting intermittently.

What's in a name? Really? When this self same 5:2 was being called a Vrat by my Mom, it was silly superstitious nonsense which I would not be caught dead talking about. But Intermittent Fasting? THAT I can write blog posts about. THAT is the importance of names. After all, we live in times when the product is less important than the label!

Monday, May 15, 2023


You think you have been granted some rare esoteric and cutting edge knowledge and then discover that it has been common know-how for hundreds of years. It is especially painful, when you have just boasted about how modern your ideas are, to find out that they are about as traditional as it can get.

Take this idea of delegation, for example. There you go, studying in top management institutions and discovering how key an ability it is in managing people. You come back home boasting about all these cutting edge things that you are learning and your grandma pulls out a Tirukkural. This Tiru, I tell you...

Idhanai idhanaal ivan mudikkum endraaindhu adhanai avankan vidal - Tirukkural

Analyse who is capable of doing what job by what means and then delegate it to him - Loose translation

If you have ever had to delegate something urgent and important ('Important' generally means that you will get chewed up by your boss if something goes wrong, not necessarily something that has grave consequences for humanity) and, as you watch the back of your subordinate heading back to his seat, your heart is in your mouth and your fingers so tightly crossed that you require pliers to unravel them...if you are, as I was saying, hoping against hope that what you asked him to do and what he understood are, at least, on the same page if not identical; that what he actually produces bears some resemblance to what you want...

There you go. I am of those who are reduced to incoherence the moment I have to delegate things to people. You see, there are too many issues involved. First, your own judgment of people's abilities. Then, your own ability to communicate what you need in the manner in which the other chap can understand. Then, your ability to also clearly communicate the urgency...

In short, delegation involves the gamut of interpersonal abilities that a manager is supposed to have. If, indeed, you do have it THEN Tiru has the wisdom to offer on how to apply it. A good manager assesses the nature and abilities of his people, right up to knowing what tools the chap is capable of applying in doing his work. And, thus, when a job turns up, he knows to whom he can delegate it.

Well, so much for cutting edge knowledge. I could have learned this much management in my language class at school, if only I had taken Tiru seriously.

But, then, it would be no use to me anyway. All knowledge is useful only to he who applies it. Did I say that for the first time...or did Tiru beat me to it centuries ago?

Monday, May 8, 2023

Smelling roses

"Roses stink!" said my friend.

There was a gasp of surprise from the assembled lot of friends at this blasphemy. Me, I nodded knowingly.

You see, you get this advice in life about taking time to smell the roses. You understand, you pine for the time to be able to smell the roses, but with your nose so firmly to the grindstone that it cannot even smell shit. On those brief times when you can actually smell the roses, they smell divine.

And one day you retire, quit or get chucked out. Then...

You see, smelling roses is fine when you hurriedly draw in a noseful of the fragrance before the grindstone reclaims your nose. But when ALL you can do is smell the roses, when there is nothing else for you to do...

"ROSES STINK!" yelled my friend again.

That, though, is typical of a guy who thinks of smelling roses in the traditional a way of living each moment without converting every activity into a competitive activity with winning as its purpose. AND lacks the mindset to do ANYTHING that does not involve making money or gaining attention or having measurable progress measures or, ideally, all of the above with fame thrown in, if possible.

Alas, I am a old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud, who believes that living in the moment does not mesh very well with setting goals or entering into invisible competitions in your own mind against the rest of the uncaring world! AND, in fact, reveling in the idea of not having to do so. So, roses smell divine to me despite having nothing else to do but smell roses.

The successful ones, who have to compete and still have nothing to do but smell the roses...they can CONVERT smelling roses to suit. 

As in,

"I have started smelling a dozen roses in a day. Within the next six months, I aim to reach a hundred roses a day."


"Well, really, ANYONE can smell roses in their garden. I have smelled them in Rashtrapati Bhavan, I aim to hit the White House next and, perhaps, I shall do it in Elon Musk's space habitat after that."


"I have smelled all the roses in Asia, I intend hitting Europe and USA next and, after that,..."


"I intend smelling every possible breed of rose. From the old garden roses to the wild roses to the modern garden roses be they tea roses or grandiflora roses or floribunda roses or..."

AND THAT is how you smell the roses. Really!

Monday, May 1, 2023

What is reality?

Ever since the advent of social media, especially everyone's favorite alma mater - WhatsApp university, I have been forced to wonder about the nature of reality. This has built into a near obsession after the recent spate of improvements, if one may call them that, in Artificial Intelligence.

One does understand that, with the growing paucity of the natural version, there is a felt need for bringing AI into existence. I mean, yeah, it exists but, somehow, it appears that we have collectively lost the instruction manual and, therefore, most of us do not know how to use it. Once AI matures, we can heave a sigh of relief and lose ourselves completely in whatever our respective screens throw up for us.

The problem, though, is that I am increasingly feeling lost about how to identify what IS reality. (Yes, yes, I AM antediluvian that way. I still need reality, or a semblance of it). Apart from the immediate vicinity, I used to rely on news to tell me what was happening in the rest of the world. Came Social media and, suddenly, news became a doubtful source of reality. I mean, what I thought of as news had to be fact checked every time.

At least I could rely on pics and videos; on sting operations which showed me the reality of my leaders; on the devastation of a current war, on the sorrows of extreme poverty, on the wonders of Mars...whatever. Yeah, Photoshop did its best but that, too, could be found out.

And now...Alas, Now! AI apparently can make me look as though I'm doing a tap-dance on top of the Vatican and nobody can tell that it is fake! Your favorite leader can be shown to be feeding the poor multitudes of Somalia or running the gas chambers of Hitler depending on who is telling the AI what to do. Yuck! If this, then the vice versa. NOW, even if you have a video recording of an interview where the chap says something incriminating, he will not say wishy-washy things like, "They are showing it out of context". No, he will coolly say that you used AI to fake it. What price reality then?

I'm afraid that there is only one answer to that question, "What is reality?" You have to ask, "Whose reality?" and serve up what they want. There will no longer be anything accepted as universal reality any more.