Monday, July 28, 2014

Yet another problem?

"You have a problem, you know"

Going by the number of times my friends have said this, I must be as full of problems as a mathematics test paper. I can even digest that aspersion but what I find difficult to take is their utter confidence that they have the solutions to all of my problems when they have found it impossible to solve their own. But then, I suppose, it works something like exams have worked for me. I always am certain about the solutions to yesterday's physics paper while I am struggling to even understand the questions in today's exam. You are always more certain of the solutions to the problems that you do not have to address.

"You never see what is wrong with you. Yesterday, when Arvind was turned off by your comment, you called him ultra-sensitive and did not even bother to check whether you had yourself been rude."

Ah! It really gets my goat when idiots presume to talk down to me. Does this chap not even realize the simple thing that, if I put the fault on Arvind, it absolves me from having to do anything to change the way I behave? I mean, what sort of fool will check for his own faults when identifying them would put the onus of correcting them on himself?

"The other day, when that wise man was giving a discourse on how the attitude of selfishness would reduce the quality of your own life, by vitiating all your relationships, you started talking of the Guptas ought to realize their problem. Did it never strike you that the discourse was meant for each person to look into himself and assess his own behavior?"

This guy is a certified lunatic. What else could one call him when he could not even see the inherent inconsistency in his own statements? Here was a discourse about not being selfish and he is blaming me for my unselfishness in wanting the Guptas to benefit from the advice, and advocating that I, instead, stuck to selfishly benefiting from it myself.

"You always blame problems on others. Never seek to see whether there was any problem with you or with your own behavior. How will you ever learn to improve? Externalizing the reasons for the problems you face will never lead you to any lasting solution"

WHAT a man! So, when he started off with 'You have a problem', he was merely externalizing the reason for the problem. No need to bother with his advice.

Maybe I need to give him advice - Physician, heal thyself!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's all in the mind - GP for Alka Narula

Every now and then, I let my beard flow down untrammeled (untrimmed?), put on my saffron robes (metaphorically), sit in a padmasan and pontificate on the thusness of things. Sometimes, I do manage to get my tongue to my cheek; at others, I am serious enough to seem like the understudy of Swami someone-or-the-other. (Not that any Swami, worth his saffron, is likely to even consider acknowledging my existence, leave alone actually knowing me.) A full list of my pontificating posts is indexed in this page.

It is not as though I wait upon encouragement to unleash my 'wisdom' on the unsuspecting populace. But, if there is someone who actually does encourage you, I must admit that it does lend a certain credence to your self-illusions. For lending me that credence, I must thank Alka Narula, who had been kind enough to publish my guest posts more than once, as witness "Does suffering negate the possibility of a compassionate God" and "In defense of Ram".

Once again, she invited me into her blog and once again you have the pleasure (dubious? I am not responsible for your doubts) of seeing my 'saffron-clad avatar'.

Not just happiness - even virtue and sin are all in the mind.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Singular Lessons: Guest post for Sumeetha Manikandan

Every now and then I am surprised by someone, who is kind enough to think that what I write is worth carrying on their blog. Sumeetha Manikandan went one step further. She even thought that I may have a lesson or two to communicate to her readers. She may well be ruing that misconception by now, but now is too late - at least if you are a polite person and, unfortunately for her, she is.

What she and her readers thought of my lessons from bachelorhood I know not. What you think of it you can judge after reading it.


The first time I ever openly said that I may choose to stay single, I was faced with the simple question, “Why?” You may blame me for being unnaturally obtuse, but I saw no reason why I should have a reason. My answer was, “Why should I have any reason to merely continue the same way as I am now? It is for you to explain why you want to change states and marry.” After all, it is the chap who is changing his job who needs to explain why he is doing so and not the guy who is continuing in the same job.

The issue, though, is that most people reacted as though I was a larva refusing to become a butterfly. Though, I am sure that no-one ever polled the butterflies about whether they would have preferred to remain larvae or not – the poor things just never had a choice. In more human terms, it was like I was refusing to pass out of school even after hitting my twenties.


And, if you still want the rest, you can read it here

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of stubbornness and persistence

Someone up there really does not like me. I mean, I am a pretty harmless sort of chap and I really cannot understand why someone should concentrate on messing me up at every turn. It is sort of gratifying that I am considered worthy of specific attention but, every now and then by way of varying the monotony, I can only wish that things could go right for me.

You see, back at school, they told me this story of Robert Bruce whose school-teacher was a spider (and, mind you, that was not even a fantasy tale) which taught him that 'If at first you do not succeed, try, try, try again' or some such thing. And my school teacher, who was not a spider (more is the pity, since lessons would have been more interesting that way and, if they got too boring, you could sort of squash the teacher), called this thing persistence.

It sort of seemed like persistence was a thing that you ought to acquire. I tried. I really did. The problem, though, was that when it came to me, they invented a new word for it - they called it stubbornness and, apparently, it was absolutely uncool to be stubborn.

That, in a nutshell, has been the story of my life. When it came to the other guy keeping on at something, he was called persistent and everyone patted him on the head and held him up as an example of what you ought to be. When I kept at something, I was called stubborn and everyone glared at me and held me up as an example of what you ought not to be. If this is not conclusive proof of malice from above, I would like to know what is. Seemed to me that if you kept pegging at a thing and succeeded in the end, you were called persistent. If, like me, all your repeated efforts only ended in failure, you were called stubborn.

Of course, there were always my friends who did not agree with my diagnoses. (That is another of my grouses. Am I the only person in the world, whose friends treat him as though he was brought up by parents, whose idea of parenting a newborn babe was to bounce him on his head sixty times a minute?) On one of my persistent attempts at solving a problem, all the sympathy he offered was, "If you keep assuming that two and two add up to five every time, I can hardly laud you for your persistence." (I am NOT stubborn. I offer up as proof the fact that, on my next attempt, I assumed it was six and NOT five, and still could not solve the problem. So there).

This chap sort of gave me the impression that sticking to a goal may be persistence BUT to stick to the way you went about chasing your goal without learning from your mistakes was to be stubborn. Of course he would say such things - he was lauded for HIS persistence merely because he eventually succeeded, so he was unlikely to accept that it was only injustice that did not land me on the same pedestal.

Anyway, I have found that, whenever I chased what I thought other people would prefer me to have, and was persistent at it, it was ALWAYS stubbornness. The malice that dogs me seems to have started with producing me with a kink in the brain that refuses to understand exactly what others would want of me. SO, I ended up chasing things with little success and got labelled stubborn for my efforts.

Then there are the things that I wanted. It is not that chasing them made others call me anything other than stubborn - but I found that I just did not care what I got called. When has a person with a sweet tooth ever bothered about what people said while bowling over others in his effort to snag the last piece of sweet on a buffet table? Even if he did fail, he would only regret the failure but not the effort. Something like that.

So, after this long, my philosophy has changed to "If at first you do not succeed, just give up" for all the things about which I even felt the need to think about whether I should persist or not. When it came to the things I REALLY wanted, the thought of giving up never crosses my mind.

After all, it is sort of idiotic to learn your lessons from spiders - blindly!