Saturday, July 25, 2009

Rage Against The Tags

I have been busy doing nothing for the entire week. As a result, the blog suffered blatant neglect. Time to make amends. First, a few important acknowledgements:

1. Thank you Preeti for the card here. Preeti is a lovely lady and a gifted author with a fantastic blog and book. I am overwhelmed with the praise she has bestowed in her post and in comments.

2. Thanks Jason for the wonderful contest. My entry squeezed into the Forties club. Quite relieved to be there since I was afraid of loosing too many points over a few technical flaws, especially due to the discontinuity in the flow of the write-up. I was pretty pleased with the idea though; plus the fact that my last name begins with D, pushed the entry into the club.

3. A big thanks to Choco , Nicky & Ekta for the tags, award and wonderful words of appreciations on your blogs. Readers, please do check out their super-cool blogs (click on their names for the links). They are a treasure to have as fellow-bloggers.

However, I am not a huge fan of “Tags” when it comes to me doing them. I must justify. Reasons follow.

This (and most of the blogs I read) is a personal blog with some novice fiction thrown in once in a while. Regular readers have already been awarded with the information that I have stayed in Dewas, Kharagpur, Gurgaon and Bangalore, and hence I refuse to explicitly answer “Four places you have lived?”.

Point is that I am not willing to let anyone have the voyeuristic pleasure at my expense so easily. Not that I am a secretive person. A keen observer of the blog wouldn’t fail to notice that I have already exposed my navel and nipples on more than one occasion. You gonna have to read the blog for knowing more facts about me like the sadistic tendencies towards insects in general.

One of the tags carry the question “Nice stomach or arms?”. Well, well, well. I don’t deny having a preference (marginal though), but wouldn’t you agree that I try real hard to be subtle in my writings? Besides, isn’t there a strong co-relation between the two anatomical features? I guess, one has to morph a photo of a beautiful person twice, once with ugly arms, once with a paunch, and then present it to the world to get an honest answer. [One isn’t an economist unless one says “Ceteris paribus” in every argument.]

I am never in favor of generalizations without scrutiny. Feminists, please don’t take me to the court for claiming this: “Tagging is a girly concept”. Look at the topics : favorite colors, number of children you aspire to have, burnt by love, last text message you received, last furry thing you touched, first thought when you looked at the mirror. Yes, such questions are theoretically applicable to males too, but I advise secretly taping male conversations to investigate their inclinations towards such matters.

Some questions are totally gender dependent and needn’t be there at all. Like “Would you kiss a stranger?” is mostly answered by females in negative. Some just say “depends”. All males would be slightly more eloquent here and say “depends on the gender”.

If tags were a male phenomenon, then first thing to disappear would be “Four things about you”. Four is a big number when it comes to talking about ourselves. See what Dphat had to resort to when asked about “Four places you would rather be”. Two is the most we can handle. Easy to tell two favorite sports, drinks (Beer & Whisky), cars, ..., you get the drift. Also, you would have to replace the choices like “Eyes or Lips” with relevant ones like “Bust or Bum”.

I rest my case against (me doing) tags now.

Forthcoming weeks shall see more activity on this blog. Increased quantity would lead to a temporary slump in quality of the posts from 10 paise per dozen to 5 paise per dozen, but that drop is essential to practice and reach to the level of 15 paise per dozen. This is what I like about writing: The more you write, the more ideas you get.

I was going to end the post on that positive note, but as these last words are being typed, the fan above, for the first time in three years of its existence, is making strange noises. Spooky night on a third floor in Bangalore.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Truth in Wine

A life’s work continues to conjure questions well past the funeral. Take Arthur’s case. His son was convinced that trash-can is the rightful place for his late father’s poetry while his wife didn’t see any harm in keeping the papers till the winter; the pile was large enough to keep the fire-grate burning for two nights.

Up in the sky, his afterlife trial began.

“My Lord, Arthur wrote too many lies. Take his poem ‘Post-Big-Bang Symphony’:

Eve had to eat the apple really soon
Adam was keen to sleep with the moon

Liar is a sinner. He belongs to Hell.”

“Romanticism needn’t be a sin. He was a kind fellow. Didn’t even pluck a flower after he turned ten. Let him be in Heaven please.”

Romantic souls were always hard to place. God adjourned the court for a break.

Post-break, God announced, “I’ve put Arthur’s words in that locker”.

The locker was labeled ‘Truth In Wine’ and carried five glasses of red wine atop it.

“To open, drink the glasses in a magical sequence. Else the wine gets refilled”.

No one, who managed to read his words, judged them lies.

Statistics reveal a 65% rise in romantic population in heaven after the T.I.W. constitutional amendment was established.

Back on earth, Arthur’s poetry was rescued before getting burnt. His grandson smuggled the stack to his school. That year, second-graders had paper boats whenever it rained, or as Arthur would have put it, whenever Juliet shed tears in heaven.

PS : This is my entry to the Clarity Of Night Short-story contest(click here). 250-words limit was a challenge.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Behavioural Inefficiencies

1. Here’s a puzzle with straightforward answer but many come up with incorrect solutions in real life: Imagine yourself seating on a chair (not extremely comfortable but decently so) in a closed air-conditioned room for an hour doing almost nothing. There are around a hundred more normal looking human beings in a similar situation in the same room and the room doesn’t have enough space for all of you to stand and roam around in it. Also, let’s say there are about a hundred bags (corresponding to each human) stacked up in the racks above. Now there’s an announcement that the doors of the room shall be opened in five minutes from now. What would you do? :

A. Remain seated for the doors to open.
B. Stand up, squeeze yourself into the little standing-space with others, pick up your heavy bag, and keep hitting yourself and others with elbows and bags.

Most of those who travel by plane between Bangalore and Mumbai choose option B immediately after the plane lands. Those who sit at the window-seats, stand with bent backs and hit their heads against the rack above. Sad part is that they don’t reach the airport any sooner than those who choose option “A”. The bus that takes the passengers to airport doesn’t differentiate based on caste/gender/common-sense-level.

Don’t let the opportunity slip by, to make eye-contact with those who stand, next time you are on board. They would be embarassed at their troublesome situation, but their ego won’t allow them to sit back.

2. If you have a friend who constantly complains of honking on road while he drives, before you sympathize, please check which lane is his favorite. Driving safely is a virtue. But driving at 40km/hr in the rightmost lane is a crime in a country like India where the square-feet road per head is agonizingly low. Sit with your friend while he drives and if he is of the safe-but-drives-in-right-lane kind, point out the five-cricket-pitches of distance between his and the next car ahead. That is the amount of national real estate he wastes every times he takes his vehicle on the road. And if a white Santro takes over from the left side, honking incessantly as if to punish your friend, say “Hi” to the driver and I shall wave my hands too.

Take your friend to a park where an entire bench is rendered useless because a couple is sitting at its corner, indulging in activities that better be carried out somewhere else. Such abuse of public property should not be tolerated and hence your friend should drive in the left lane.

3. This third point is probably taking intolerance too far. I am a sucker for Andhra-food and eat a lot of rice despite not being from east or south India. However, most of my last ten years have been spent in these very parts of India. This means I have spent a lot of time looking at people eating rice, mostly with hands. Here’s a tip for them to increase their efficiency.

Do not try to wipe your plate clean to the last grain of rice if you are going to take the next helping in the same plate. Do it only in your last serving. Once you notice that the rice in your plate needs replenishment, go and help yourself with more before your run your hands to every corner of the dish. If you are hell-bent on not letting a single grain go waste, let me assure you that the amount of rice you eat remains the same even if you clear the last grain of rice only in your last serving. So no food gets wasted and you do the hard work only once and not thrice (if you took 3 servings).

Another related observation, applicable to whole of India and the world population in general, is the way non-vegetarian food with bones is consumed. Contrary to the economic principle of diminishing marginal returns, the last bits of flesh stuck to the bones are pursued with extreme effort and greed. One sees a lot of teeth and forks involved once the piece of chicken is 99% consumed. To the naked eye, the difference would have gone unnoticed, had someone removed the two grams of crumbs before serving the piece.

But I guess eating up the last bits has its joys. The “diminishing marginal returns” principle doesn’t apply in this case, much like the way one values the last days of a long holiday much more than the initial ones.