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!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Writer's block

I kept hearing of this thing called 'Writer's block', which keeps writers from writing, and wondered exactly what it could be. Possibly laziness, possibly boredom and given a nice fancy name so they could feel important about it, I supposed.

I mean, come on, ever heard of an 'Accountant's Block'? Where the figures suddenly danced in front of your eyes and you started wondering about exactly what addition meant and how to do it? Or, perhaps, a 'Plumber's Block'? Now, now, I did not mean blocked plumbing. That can happen all too often and pretty messy it can get, too, when it does happen.

And then I started writing...and now I find myself with this strange beast and understand its nature. The problem is not in being able to write but in a selection of what to write. The Accountant gets his figures and knows what the report he is expected to produce. If he forgets how to get from Point A to Point B, it is a temporary or permanent memory loss or dementia, not a block. Ditto the plumber. The writer, though, has to select point A and point B himself and also decide whether he travels in a straight line or meanders all over the place as he gets there. So, yes, a 'blocked writer' can still write a spanking good piece as a content writer - where point A, point B and the route are all laid out. But when he gets to try original writing, he thinks up a subject, and the thoughts fritter away, jumps to another and find ideas vanishing like the mist...

In my case, I rather think it is more to do with what I could call 'existential angst' if I were to be writing literary fiction. I could say I am in a crisis of  the soul - 'What is the purpose of writing?'; 'What does a blog post (or book or poem) mean in the larger scheme of things?' and so on. But, being who I am, it is more of 'What is the purpose of MY writing? Is anyone reading it at all?' I never really have known whether it is that I am being too honest for my own good and could have acquired a lot more 'literary credit' if I dressed up my feelings in the appropriate language or...

The problem, you see, is in the nature of what I write - Humor. Now humor is something people get forwarded on WhatsApp. The idea of actually BUYING a book of humor, or even reading it for free on Kindle Unlimited, must appear riotously...err...humorous to them, I suppose. (THAT pic at the side with a dog and cat? Yes, that one! THAT was a humor book I wrote before I realized this) You know, somewhat like someone expecting you to pay for a couple of breaths (although THAT I am assured is in the offing...and even in practice in some country or the other.) Forget BUYING, the idea of even having to read more than 140 characters for humor...or, God Forbid, open a link...

Anyway, you get the picture. Me, I am like a plant...I need praise like that thing needs water. Otherwise I droop, pine and generally give up the ghost. (Ah! No! I like life very much, thank you. If no-one reads my writing, I am not going to slash my wrists or any such thing. There is always vodka, music, movies and reading, instead of writing) And when I, as I am drooping, think of writing my next blog post or book, and consider what to write about...

Maybe I should try writing Romance? But, then, a bachelor writing Romance...I never even had a girlfriend. If I had had one, I'd not be alive today to wonder about what to write, she would have shot me long ago. As for a love affair with my mirror...I hate the damn thing, it never shows me looking as handsome as I know I look.

Perhaps mythology? After all, I know how Maricha is the uncle of Ravan. He was the son of Thataka, who was the mother also of Kekasi, the father being Somali, and Kekasi, if you did not know, was the mother of Ravan. Why would anyone be interested when they do not even care to know their grandfather's name? What do I know...I know they are...I know these things but I do not know that I'd be jumping with joy if someone told me anything of this sort today.

So, yes, maybe I should write myth. And, apparently, one should write from a fresh point of view. Ramayan is a bit too dicey what with Ram being deified and people all too willing to burn you at the stake if you set a foot wrong.

So, yeah, the Mahabharat it has to be. Remember that chap Sanjaya? Yeah, the same guy who watched the live telecast of the Kurukshetra war (YES! We got there eons before CNN) and relayed it to the blind Dhritarashtra. I think I should write the Mahabharat from the point of view of Sanjaya's wife's uncle's pet dog.

Any takers for an epic that goes like this?