Now being published as a novel. Click the picture to find out more:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tit for Tat

He felt a bit queasy. It was like something was growing inside him; threatening to take over. His insides were knotted. One of the Big Ones had just confirmed his worst fears. The Big-un broke the news to him and then laughed, pointing at him repeatedly. He gulped and realized it to be a mistake. He asked the Big-un if he did not have water for the next whole week, wouldn’t that automatically kill it? He was answered in a typical roundabout Big-un-ish manner. It had something to do with life somehow finding a way. All in all, it didn’t bode too well for him. He brooded. He sulked. He frowned. Finally, he thought. He thought hard. He had the answer. But there was just one problem.

He tried to recall that conversation with another Big-un, the one with the whitest hair and also the one whose ears were comically sprouting hairs and who smelled funny. That conversation was the key. He could always go up to that Big-un and ask but he was tired of being laughed at. He roamed around restlessly. Another Big-un tempted him by making funny faces. He laughed heartily at that Big-un, also stuck out his tongue. He stole a cookie from the table when none was looking and ate it.

His stomach gave a satisfactory grunt. All of a sudden, he was reminded of his problem. This caused much agitation. He wondered if precious time was already being lost and whether it will be too late soon enough. Now he remembered. The whitey Big-un had told him once that the pests have to be killed as soon as they turn up or else they will breed and take over the house.

He kicked himself as to why he had to eat the water-melon seeds. He looked at one of the melons in the kitchen and compared its size with himself. The lemons lying next to it looked much smaller. He could easily see a big melon tree growing from his stomach and eventually branching out of his head. He was depressed with the prospects of having to walk with a treetop for a head for the rest of his life. He wasn’t sure whether it will come out of his head or his ears, though. He thought about it and established that it must first come out of his ears. This brought him to a shocking realization - Whitey must have eaten some seeds as well.

He was concerned for Whitey. He went up to him and warned him. Whitey laughed at him as well. He was embarrassed and told himself never to talk to a Big-un ever again. But he did tell Whitey that he was going to drink some pesticide to prevent the tree from taking over the house and that Whitey was welcome to join him.

This brought about the silence he expected. He must have impressed the Big-uns with his intelligence. It was about time that they showed him the respect that he deserved. There was a lot of shouting and yelling. Whitey was towering over the original Big-un who was cowering away. He chuckled – The Big-uns were so funny. He reckoned that if everybody was so afraid of Whitey then it might not be so bad to have some tree branches peeking out of his own ears as well.

Amid the commotion, he stole another cookie from the table and ate it. He patted his tummy and fell asleep.

PS – The term Big-un was originally coined by William Golding in the book “Lord of the Flies”.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Line

The line keeps people from getting hurt. It differentiates us from animals. It keeps the social balance in check. It saves civilizations. It is also mostly a blur, often is hardly visible and is completely missed by people under influence.

The line is also very subjective. Your line is going to be very different from some one else’s line. Chances are good that your own line shifts depending upon the time of the day, your gastronomical balance and your mood. In fact, you also draw different lines for different individuals. Some lines are porous while others are unbroken. Some are straight and some take impossible dips and turns.

Despite all this, there exists a general consensus on what the line means.

What the hell is the line?

The line is that personal, subjective and intangible self-protection mechanism beyond which the concerned other person is not welcome. If the other person continues to intrude, then, well, s/he would have crossed the line.

Herein lies the dilemma. Even though crossing the line is frowned upon universally, yet the line is crossed almost all the time.

The first part of the problem lies in differential understanding of the line due to the numerous self-conflicting properties it displays (as mentioned before). Some animals are known to do a better job of drawing the line eg. by urinating, by defecating or by prominently displaying something as intuitive as a claw-mark on some sufficiently tall tree. Somewhere during the evolution, we missed the simplicity of marking our territories at the cost of being more cultured. But we gained one crucial advantage - any of us can invoke the line irrespective of our physical or mental prowess or the stench quotient of a randomly taken urine sample for that matter. In fact, a line is largely invoked because of the lack thereof. If you were a physically imposing personality, hardly anybody would be crossing the line with you anyway. On the other hand, if you were witty, you would be the one crossing the line more often than others. Fascinating, the line is.

The second part of the problem lies in the lack of consequences of crossing the line, by and large that is. This poses another irony. For such a universally understood moral crime, a lot of guilty people still seem to get away with it. This brings me to the various similarities that the line shares with a religion. The line and religion share the dubious distinction of being universally acknowledged but rarely followed to the point (pun intended). The line lends itself to different meaning to different people not unlike any religion. The line, much like the Supernatural God, cannot be bargained with once it is invoked (Try telling a friend who is messing with you – Mate, you have crossed the line; and then see how s/he fumbles with various lame attempts to salvage the situation). The line is also and often invoked as a last resort when you find yourself in a corner. Without the line or religion, majority of the human beings may find themselves without their moral compass. In fact, looking at the similarities, the line could actually be declared a religion.

The last part of the explanation resides in the fact that it is simply too tempting to play with the line. Especially since it is someone else’s line. Playing with the line allows you to come up with your own psychological assessment of the other person even if at a high cost. It is also entertainment at somebody else’s expense. Some people play with it better than others but invariably when you play with the line, you also run the risk of finding yourself on the other side before you remember to rein yourself in.

Whichever way you look at it, there is something quite fulfilling about finding the line, flirting with it but never really crossing it. I think I am going to devote the rest of my life to this pursuit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fist Fights

Fist fights were a favorite pastime while growing up. I perfected the art with my brothers under safe, controlled environment. Predictably, I would excel versus my younger brother but was easily thulped by the big brother. I was comfortable with this arrangement because I was able to beat up somebody at least half the time. Around this time, my brothers discovered the art of forging alliances and pretty soon I was being beaten up almost all the time. Thankfully, my elder brother was sent off somewhere far off. I told myself that justice does prevail.

This also gave me a free hand. I leveraged it to the hilt in creating my own reign of terror. It helped that I reached my teens before the terrorized. Being bigger, I got away from quite a few chores. Let’s just say that I had to relearn later how to polish my shoes.

Unfortunately, however, this golden era lasted only a couple of years. While I was in a hurry to get to my teens, my brother took his time about it but when he did get there, he suddenly outgrew me. This prompted me to briefly patronize a theory that I was an orphan left at my parents’ doorsteps just like in some of those western movies revolving around deeply troubled and conflicted heroes. I indulged in this theory largely because it filled me with a sense of grave manly self-respect, even if unfounded. However, after a lengthy but thoroughly useless investigative work and for lack of believers, I was eventually forced to discard this line of thought.

Thereafter, I managed to divert the sibling rivalry towards other pursuits where I was able to stamp my authority. Fist fights, however, continued to be the last frontier. But my brothers had outgrown the concept.

Still, I sought to be thrilled elsewhere even if without much luck. In one such case, after a swollen upper lip, bruised neck, and a stomach that remained moody for a week due to many a kick attempted at it, I decided to finally grow up.

Alas, there won’t be any fist fights. Not for me. Not any more. Only nostalgia.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

So, You be the Joker and I'll be the Clown

So many status updates vying for precious little attention. Many of your friends want to share every waking minute of their rollicking lives with you. Some do better than others. Sample these…

Is in the mood to swiftly take over the world.

Put the empah-sus on the wrong syllah-ble.

Is going to procrastinate. May be tomorrow.

"Insert poignant comical quip about Mondays here"

Pretty sure my bladder is on non-speaking terms with me. Pretty sure that dull ache wasn’t where it shouldn’t be yesterday.

"Insert lose weight joke here"

Realised once again that knees don't bend sideways. Unless they were rubber, then they'd bend in any direction, but you'd have rubber knees and that would suck. Like I-can't-stand-up-coz-my-knees-are-rubber suck. I need an icepack. Seriously.

Is more than less but less than more…More or less.

Is the man your man could smell like.

Brains have officially taken a leave of absence. Insert more weekends to continue.

Hey, stop playing with my delirium.

Doesn’t like the thirties. Can I have a refund?

Ah yes. Caffeine. The one remaining socially acceptable drug.

It’s never too late to make an imaginary friend.

Prescribed dosing – No more than three status updates a day. In case of addiction, stop paying your internet bills, smash your laptop or slit your wrists, in increasing order of desperation.

All this is of course harmless fun. But what if some important people were addicted to facebook? I am not talking about celebrities who obviously will have professional help. I am talking about people like a small-time judge? Let’s imagine what he might post…

Fell asleep again today.

The Janitor smiled at me today or was it my imagination?

You can argue as long as you feel like but I am not letting this bastard get away. Peace.

Seriously, if you dress like this to office, what else would you expect? Feel sorry for the defendant.

What a long day. Thank god for facebook-for-iPhone.

The janitor smiled at me again today. So tormenting.

What a bloody racist. White trash, if you ask me.

The universe has never been a more comical of a place. Not the mildly ticklish kind but like a train-wreck kind of funny. Those watching from higher dimensions must be confused out of their wits. Meanwhile, you continue to be the joker and I’ll be the resident clown. And we’ll laugh while we are up there and we’ll laugh when we are down.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Straight and the Winding

I was watching this video about how Euclidean geometry doesn’t apply to the world as we experience. Apparently this is so because fundamentally it is impossible to draw a straight line. Another book, that I have only partially read because the mathematics spilled out of my head after the 7th page, states that there was no need for Euclid to make the assumption that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It goes on to state that the shortest distance between two points is always a curved line because the space itself is curved. As my universe started crumbling down with this revelation, I decided to vehemently protest but was stopped in my tracks by a footnote which quoted Einstein’s theory of relativity as a reference. Somehow, if you can throw in his name, many a weird things become plausible including big bangs, parallel universes, multi-dimensions, Gambling Gods, bushy moustaches, romantic physicists etc. etc. The only known competitor to Einstein is probably Religion.

But then again, have you ever tried walking straight from point A to point B? It is not too difficult if there are no distractions. Such a setting could be the 100m dash at the Olympics. Of course, the idea is to run the shortest distance possible to the finish line if you want to win the race. For simplicity sake (And for Euclid’s sake; May he remain peacefully and eternally dead), lets assume that the shortest distance is indeed a straight line. Let’s now move to a more real world setting. A shopping mall, for instance. Have you ever noticed how people walk around in a mall? I have. Not out of choice but because my office is situated right on top of one of those things.

You have got to understand that I am not prejudiced. It is just that when I get out of my office and inside the mall to get my lunch, I walk with a purpose and energy and it is my mindset that clashes with the aimless zombies that mar my way. We could be the best of friends at any other given time but at that particular moment, I simply thank my stars that guns, knives or for that matter weapons of mass destruction, are frowned upon in this country. There is a good possibility that I might have gone trigger-happy otherwise.

An average shopper (if you could call them that since they are all extreme outliers and they hardly seem to shop) is a fierce combination of being decidedly indecisive and resolutely unyielding. They are like the walking dead or barely walking (take your pick) who seem to suffer from the same lack of direction as a leaf in a whirlwind. But unlike a leaf, they simply wouldn’t give way. Not if you request, not if you holler, not if you stomp, not if you were driving a fire truck with the sirens blaring and if you were to viciously open the hose.

Further, they seem to have a type of randomness to their moves that will defy the results of an unbiased coin toss carried on indefinitely. Even a series of coin tosses will eventually follow some sort of a statistical distribution (I think so anyway) but not a selection of shoppers whether or not they are in the same group. In fact, shoppers who shop in a group add a whole new dimension to the term Catastrophe. They act like a bunch of ants pulling their load in different directions but that is where the similarity ends as unlike the ants, no larger force prevails to guide their movements. The resultant unpredictable chaos could make for a study in paranormal occurrence beyond the realm of human understanding.

To be fair, sometimes a pattern does emerge and the packs of zombies start to behave more like a herd gathered around some new attraction that more often than not consists of skimpily clad girls selling the latest perfume till stock lasts or an emcee pretending that he has something profound to holler about. But those are rare exceptions to an otherwise mind-boggling myriad of floating undeads the movements of which when plotted on a chart would put quantum analysts to test and might even cause the discovery of a radical new theory which should be aptly named The Special Theory of the Shopping malls and Rats therein. One of the key statistics of such a theory has to be the average KMs travelled by a given shopper in any given visit to a given mall which when stretched out on a straight line could reach halfway to moon.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Serious Amateur

I think I have mentioned this term before. A Thundercat inspired me into coining it. I have a fairly good idea of what it means but I don’t want to define it too narrowly because it can be used to refer to a lot of people. Instead, I would like to paint some pictures for you to derive your own damn meaning…

Remember the rich boy in college who would turn up for the street-soccer game dressed like he could be the first replacement choice for Liverpool, especially when they are down and out which is pretty much all the time anyway? Well, he is NOT a Serious Amateur. Even if he did have some skills (and I could have had a million dollars).

But the girl who competes like the Warrior Princess Xena over a board game of no less stature than ‘Taboo’ even when the skills are no match for the nonchalant opposition as can be seen from the back-to-back effortless defeats, She is.

Serious Amateurs inhabit that tiny territory that has not been claimed by the amateurs or the professionals. It is a growing profession (How ironic) and is normally associated with that phase of a civilization’s growth when
- the majority have decided to relinquish arms
- insidious boredom has been seeping in for at least a select segment of well-off people who can lead quite comfortable lives with relative ease without over-exerting themselves, and
- in absence of warriors with claimed and verifiable kills, the finer ladies have decided to offer themselves to those who demonstrate proficiency, even if only perceived, in more than one vocation.

This period may or may not be followed with decay. Think medieval renaissance. Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo and thousands of others who wanted to be like them and you would know what I am talking about. Those Thousands of Others could be called Serious Amateurs (As long as you pay royalty to me each time you refer to them or anybody else as such).

Alright, I may have gone a bit too far. No. I have gone a bit too far. This is already getting too serious for my comfort. Perhaps we need another pictograph (This is only a second for me and so I thank you in advance to visit a secluded place to make fun of it before continuing your reading):-

Hmm. Now, that I think about it, what I really want to be is…. The Cool Dude.
Funny, how perspectives change once you visualize your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Couch

Last weekend, I had an epiphany. This usually happens to me when I spend unhealthy amount of time with myself. Further, such an epiphany is almost impossible to avoid when the time spent with myself consists of staring blankly into the void. It is true that I have had so many revelations that I would rather go through the rest of my life without having to worry about whether I have a unique and meaningful role in the Cosmos. Here are some of the more important epiphanies that have occurred previously in my life and some semblance of the thought process behind them:

My back is aching. So is my neck. I can’t feel my left leg either –> Its about time that I changed my lying down position.

I feel too lethargic to get up. My stomach is growling. But I did have a hearty lunch –> Oh My God. Is it dinner time already?

It’s quite easy to find an empty cubicle today. Where is everybody? Great. Even the corner office is empty; let me make it my office today. Where is everybody? –> Is it a Sunday? CRAP.

No position is more receptive to epiphanies than the lying down position. Yes. It is that position in which you sleep. Except when you don’t sleep then realizations from higher dimensions descend upon you. Sometimes, they rain upon you like a torrential downpour while at other times, they simply drizzle. If you are lucky, you will be able to duck from them but mostly, let’s accept it, you get wet. Evading epiphanies, especially when it is staring you in the face, is quite an art and I must write about that some other day but let me not digress.

The epiphany I recently had was something else altogether. It happened when I was hit by a series of minor realizations in quick succession over the whole of last weekend. None of those minor realizations were really important in the larger scheme. (Author Note: Though, I think, at one point of time, I did get a clear vision of how life conspired to create the universe to accommodate itself, how all life forms were connected with each other through an underlying thread of common consciousness flowing even through inanimate objects, how human race is just a sensorial manifestation of that infinitely more intelligent and omnipresent consciousness and is an experiment gone horribly wrong and how you can understand all this with the help of a screw-driver and basic algebra but more on that some other day). Anyway, I was smart enough to ignore all those epiphanies and instead searched for the underlying catalyst that triggered the waves of those realizations. Because, all facts considered, discovering a gold mine is not nearly as important as discovering how to find a gold mine. All this, you know, so as to not accidentally fall into one. After all, one has to take care of one’s health.

The underlying catalyst, I discovered, was The Couch. As it happened, I spent about 25 hours of that curious weekend on that couch. Now, this couch is nothing much to speak of. It is a comfortable two-seater that is deliberately positioned right in front of the TV. If a midget were to lay down on it and extend himself to his entire length then his legs will surely be dangling. But it does have a cozy feeling so universally associated with all kinds of couches, irrespective of their shapes or sizes. Now, if you throw in some cushions, a quilt, a large cappuccino, a book, and a wonderful foggy view through an open balcony, you do get that distinct feeling of having arrived fashionably late to a party thrown in your honor. And when one is so relaxed, so on top of the world, so content, that is exactly when those darned epiphanies sneak up onto you. You don’t like it when they do that especially when your own sub-conscious distracts you with inane conversations so you don’t see their approach. As an example:

Me: What a life. I can be here for ever.
Sub-conscious: Yeah. This way you are not going to get anywhere, anyway.
Me: What do you mean? Where else would I wanna be anyway?
Sub-conscious: Ask yourself. You should know.
Me: Even allowing for the ironical stupidity that I could ask myself a question when I don’t really know the answer, where are you going with this rhetoric?
Sub-conscious: The answers lie within.
Me: Are you for real? Or straight out of an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting? Besides, aren’t you supposed to be THAT within?
Sub-conscious: Who am I? I am just a resident garbage collection unit. The question is Who are YOU?
Me (With vacant expression): Who am I?
Sub-conscious: Bingo. (Smuggles in a few revelations)

Score line – Me – 0; Sub-conscious – 1.

Well, I guess, nothing in life is for free. Not even a lazy afternoon on The Couch. Bollocks.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Did you leave your limb behind?

She trudges back into the living room dragging her mutilated body behind. She does it in slow measured steps almost hoping that I wouldn’t notice. I think she is still under the wrong impression that she is welcome here. She also seems to be suffering from a curious case of amnesia in the sense that she obviously cant remember that I have just chased her away with my boot in my hand but she does remember this to be her home. Or she has a very low sense of self esteem. Or both. I do feel for her. But I don’t want to have anything to do with her any more. I am tired of chasing her away. I let her slip in.

I vividly remember the first time I met her. She just couldn’t stop staring at me through her glazed eyes. It became so obvious that every now and then I would glance through the corner of my eyes to check if she was still looking at me. And when I couldn’t find her at her usual place, I would be wondering where she might have gone. To be honest, she is not exactly a pretty sight but then I don’t get so much attention from many quarters in general anyway.

Then it happened. One fine day, I found her in my bed. I must have been drunk enough to allow that. But as soon as I regained my senses to register her presence, I was filled with disgust. I had to ask her to leave but she wouldn’t budge. I resorted to throwing her out of the bed. She promptly fell on the floor with a plop, was likely outraged and so assumed an inflexible stand. She got rooted to the spot, unyielding as a rock. She wouldn’t listen to what I was saying. In fact, she even refused to look at me, preferring a vague blank spot in front of her to my good looks. It took me a good half an hour and quite a few violent threats to get her out of the apartment. I immediately threw the bed sheets, the pillow covers and the quilt into the washing machine and decided to sleep on the couch instead to get over my trauma. It wasn’t till after the bedroom was completely disinfected that I took to sleeping in my own bed.

You would have thought that that was the last I would see of her. But no sir, she still graces me with her visits every now and then. These days, she restricts herself to only the living room. We still have our fights and just about fifteen minutes ago, I ran after her with my boot in my hand. I haven’t done anything remotely like that ever but today I was having one of those moments. And something curious happened. She left one of her many limbs behind as she exited.

As I write this, I am still transfixed by her tail which is thrashing around on the floor even as she quietly reenters. I want to ask her if she even remembers having left her limb behind on her previous visit. But I am unlikely to get an answer. She is clearly delusional but I do admire her tenacity. I think she is here to stay. I will have to make room. May be give her a name. I just hope she stays out of my bed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Driving Madness

I pride myself on my driving skill. Driving doesnt include parallel parking or for that matter reverse parking. And I prefer an automatic. A sports car is even better. Particularly, if it comes in all black and can be made to stop in less than half a second, from a 100kmph, that is. What can I say - I am a safe driver. I even top up gas when the tank is only half full (Cash outlay may have something to do with this but I think otherwise).

I use indicators extensively, even if there is nobody within a mile on either side. My headlights go up promptly at 7PM (Perhaps even the sun takes this as a cue to begin its long descent). I stop at orange light. I take overly long time to park my car symmetrically within the box. When somebody indicates, I give way. I follow rules - traffic rules.

Funnily, I never used to do any of the above when I was driving in Malaysia. I still dont do any of the above when I drive in India. But anyway, when it happened, I was driving in Singapore. So it would not have been surprising that I would have given way to this BMW as we waited at the red light even though she was in the wrong lane with her nose intruding in the small safety margin in front of me. She wanted to go right or so her indicator suggested. But my passangers had something else on their minds. They voiced their opinions as "What an idiot - Doesnt he know that he is in the wrong lane?" and "Run him over.". I dont know why one always refers to an unseen car driver in the masculine gender but that was an after thought. Right now, because the opinions were ventured simultaneously, all that I registered was to run the idiot over. This thought was, lets say, appealing. So, my car zoomed forward to close the tiny entrance proffered by my otherwise safe driving sense. The traffic light turned green and the BMW turned left even as her right indicator bellowed its disapproval. "What the heck", said the female seated next to me. "Must be a female driver. That would explain.", said her husband from the back before he could check himself. He spent the next few minutes making amends.

This incident caused multiple tangential thoughts in my mind which were soon lost like ripples in a small pond till I woke up with a hangover the next morning. I thought I was missing something but I couldnt quite figure out what. I went down to check if I remembered to drive my car back. Satisfied, the next on agenda was obviously a cappuccino. I went down the entire list of rituals in similar fashion till I had to force myself to confront what it was that I was missing. And so I list those thoughts down:

An unseen driver is always a male driver.

A reckless and unseen driver is still a male driver. Even more so.

All unseen drivers are male drivers until they make "stupid" mistakes when they promptly undergo a sex-change operation and become, guess what, female drivers.

All unseen drivers who make genuine mistakes are your clones. This is because you project yourself onto what you havent seen. When I had an accident in Malaysia, I got down to thulp the culprit and had to politely apologize when he turned out to be double my size.

A city's character can be guaged by the drivers on its roads. And this character is infectious. I follow rules in Singapore. I was a reckless driver in Malaysia. I am still quite chaotic in India.

Other drivers make mistakes. You simply get stuck. This is true even if the nature of accident is exactly the same.

The nature of accident is never exactly the same.

Running them over should be allowed as a hobby with no criminal consequences.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


I wanted to write an authoritative article about trivializing as a way of life. But then I ran into a paradox for if you take trivializing too seriously, you cant seriously be trivializing any more. So, I decided to write about how to be mediocre at trivializing and suck at it. This is an excellent example of countering a paradox with another more complicated one. It is also, I consider, a brilliant articulation as it doesnt hint at excelling at trivializing (at least not at first sight) but at the same time if you suck at being mediocre at trivializing, then by implication, you would excel at it. It is like saying that you are not a truly world class loser unless your last failure is a suicide attempt.

There, I have done it again. I can do it with anything. "It" defined as trivializing. Initially, I defined it as an art mastered through years of practice. Then, I started to view it as a way of life. Almost a religion. But, now, I will attempt to reduce it down to a quasi-science.

But first, let me define it. As the prophet of trivializing, my definition supercedes all other definitions ever attempted or not attempted or thought to have been attempted. Even if it did appear in someone's brain patterns as a fleeting glimpse without being articulated, my definition supercedes it.

For trivializing to happen, three conditions have to be fulfilled. One, the conversation is either already serious, or taking a serious turn or could go serious. Two, you believe that important, though, the conversation is, it is meaningless in the larger cosmic scheme of things. And three, you are bored. When such a situation presents itself to you, you should firstly thank God and thereafter indulge in trivializing.

Now, I am going to define what exactly trivializing means. Trivializing is the art of impeding, with an ultimate aim to end, important and logical conversations (that satisfy the aforementioned three conditions) through the use of various logically consistent techniques all of which lead to the greater good but at the expense of some participant/s who have taken themselves a little too seriously. Such techniques are many eg. as a beginner, you can start by questioning the language, any word, grammer or the pronunciation. You dont even have to appear to be the master of the language as long as you can point out some unimportant flaw somewhere. But, here, I would limit myself to discussing only two very powerful techniques:

The first technique is to point out flaws that are logically consistent on a stand-alone basis but otherwise irrelevant to the topic at hand. For example, if some Indian cricket fan is arguing that Sachin Tendulkar is an all-time great based upon certain select statistics, you can respond with any of the below:

Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive. What they conceal is vital.
How exactly would you define an "All-time great"?
Did you mean an "All-time Cricketing great"?
To declare somebody as an all-time great means taking a very grim view of the future.
The fact that you have to argue means that he isnt.
Let me think about it and come back by tomorrow?

Second technique is to steer the conversation away towards something frivolous using a tangential offshoot which is related to the original conversation in a manner that cannot be disputed. Using the same Sachin Tendulkar example, you can also respond as:

What kind of a name is that?
Then how come his voice is so squeaky?
I dont particularly care about the brands he endorses.
You remind me of the boy who argued too much. He is dead.
A wise man once said that when too much has been spoken and enough blood has been spilt, truth shall be known.

Now, you are armed and dangerous. Go out there and trivialize. Often, trivializing helps you and others see the bigger picture (Another paradox). But dont take it too seriously. All of us know what happened to the guy who took it too seriously. He became a politician.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Ultimate Jump

"So looking forward to it?", The bus driver asks. She is warm and cheerful like no other bus driver I have met. Somebody responds with a loud NO. Everybody laughs nervously.

"Trust me. You wouldnt regret it." She says. "Or", She adds thoughtfully and almost without a pause, "You wouldnt live long enough to regret it." Sheepish expressions infectiously spread through the coach. I remain untouched.

The base is littered with bravery quotes. I like the one that says - Be brave or at least pretend to be. Nobody can tell the difference anyway. They are playing old school. Pink Floyd's Time graces the Ether with its cold shivers. It makes me think about a lot of things. Almost everything.

Phil is going to be my partner. He is an Australian but has been in Queenstown for a good three years now. I tell him that his is a nice way to make a living. He says, "Yeah. Great view from office." He is being modest. You simply cant get a better view.

We are cozy and cramped within a twelve-by-four-by-four feet place with no windows. There are nine of us here. I am comfortably perched atop Phil's lap. He asks me to move my bum towards him. I readily comply. At this time, he is the most important man in my life.

I am hanging outside. I am trying hard to maintain the arching shape of a banana - my hips pushed out, my head pulled in and my legs curled behind and in between Phil's. He was right. The view from here is magnificent. It is noisy, though. He flashes his fingers in the form of a count-down.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -

I am feeling a lot of things at the same time, albeit like a teenage girl going through her puberty. The first three seconds bring along the exhilaration of the fastest acceleration I have ever experienced. I also feel like the weightless soul liberated from the earthly bounds. More than anything else, for the first time ever, I feel ahead of myself. Phil flips me over and I look back at the cargo plane receding back in the skies. He taps me on the shoulder. This is my cue to spread my limbs and so I do. I could have tried the Superman posture but I prefer the tradition. Breathing is hard to come by. I cut through thin air like rejection through vanity. Phil's second tap confirms that we are now traveling at top speed. We do a little twirl. Phil asks me if I am ok. I am dizzy but I am incapable of uttering any words. My silence, apparently, encourages him. Not good.

About a minute passes by in an eternity. The ground is taking more defined shapes now. Phil does the count-down thing again. I feel a tug and a jolt. For a fractional second, I am moving back up. But now I am only gliding. Phil points to the sun. I look up and notice the halo around it, caused by the freak combination of my vantage point and clouds around it carrying just the right amount of water vapors. The halo is big, like at least having five times the diameter of sun.

A few sharp turns make me dizzy again. But this time, I am able to ask Phil to slow down. He does. He also passes me the sick bag. Just in case.

The last tap is my cue to lift my legs. We are going to land on our bums. That is how Phil likes it and I am not about to start complaining. Not this late.

0-100 kmph in 3 seconds
Top speed of 200 kmph
Free fall of 3kms in just about a minute
Parachute-breaking to bring down from 200 kmph to 10 kmph in just 2 seconds.
Fully environment friendly; the only side effect is one less human which is actually probably better for the world anyway.

The Ultimate Jump.