Word of the Week #113:

Nostalgia

I don’t often take vacations. The kind of work that I do and the kind of life that I live just does not afford me that kind of luxury.

Of course, one could argue that, given how flexible and balanced my life already is, I might not really need a vacation.

Well, there is some merit to that premise, but there are several more details to consider.

Firstly, balanced may be a term you can use to describe my work schedule now, but that was far from true till the last summer.

Secondly, no matter how much you love something, fatigue does eventually set in. Taking no real breaks for a span of four years can be strenuous for even the most tenacious of us.

So, when I hurt my knee while playing basketball last week—a severe strain to the lateral ligaments—and the orthopaedist asked me to rest, I decided to take a break from work as well. Just take a week to relax…

Seeing how I tend to overwork throughout the monsoon, as there is little else to do, the timing could not have been better.

It is still a forced vacation, as each one I take tends to be, but it has been quite fun nonetheless.

I finally got to take my old PlayStation out of its box; the first time in several months. As it would turn out, NFS Most Wanted is still as fun as it was almost a decade ago, though the races somehow seems slightly more difficult than I can remember. Also, the way my shoulders and lower back start aching after just a couple of hours is an entirely new experience.

I often draw some flak for calling myself old, but the truth is, I do feel older. Things do change, as we grow older, and we often do not realise just how much.

One of the things I have noticed is that people seem to stop doing what they used to love doing as kids. I cannot think of any reasonable explanations for it, to be honest. Excuses, perhaps, but no explanations.

If you stop having fun, what is even the point of being alive, right? If you know something is fun, why postpone doing it? It is not like we have forever to wait…

So, this week, I plan to have some fun. Perhaps a little extra, just to compensate for the entire year.

Replaying NFS was fun, but now my thumbs feel weird, so I have to stop. Perhaps I will rewatch an old movie I love. Or perhaps I shall reread an old Agatha Christie that I have not touched for a few years.

There is just a different pleasure to redoing things you love, right?

My room is cosy and my heart is happy. This is going to be a good week.

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Word of the Week #112:

Ammunition

People who know me would know that I don’t drive. Well, to be very honest, I can’t.

Of course, I’m talking about driving a car, or anything larger than that.

I’m quite fine with a moped, actually.

And on the basketball court? Just get the ball on the right wing, crossover to the left, drive and score!

Ain’t nobody that can guard me, Boy! 

However, I cannot drive a car.

In our society, I hardly see the need for one, to be honest.

Sure, there are moments when I wish I had car. It would, in an ideal world, make things so much easier. But in the real world, it is just not worth the trouble.

For one, it just seems like a huge responsibility, you know. When you possess a car, you are responsible not just for your own safety, but also for all the people around you.

Not to mention, it is just not an easy thing to do. The driving courses are not nearly as thorough as you would hope, nor are the tests as stringent.

And, apart from just driving, maintenance is also a headache. A badly maintained car could, quite literally, blow up in your face with little to no warning.

There are very few things you can encounter on your way home that are as dangerous as an irresponsible, inept individual with a big, fast car.

And entrusting my life to a random stranger is the last thing I’d do. Literally…

Now, when I say this, I do not mean to undermine the role cars have played in making our society what it is today, nor how we continue to perceive them.

A cool spy with his favourite car, with some sort of an explosion in the background, is probably the first memory I have of Hollywood movies.

After all, I was just 3, when I watched Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies.

So, I do get it… Cars are cool. Cars are fun. Cars make you feel powerful. And all that is fine.

However, I don’t see why you should not have to answer a few simple questions to ensure my safety, and that of everyone else who may encounter you along the way.

  1. Do you really need a car?
  2. Do you really need that car? Surely something smaller and safer should do the job, right?
  3. Are you capable of handling that car?
  4. Do you have any history of substance abuse?
  5. Mental health problems?
  6. Neurological issues?

It is not unreasonable to have these questions about cars and the people who drive them, right?

It is a matter of personal and public safety, after all.

I don’t think anybody would really disapprove.

And yet, replace ‘car’ with ‘gun’, ‘drive’ with ‘shoot’ and ‘moped’ with ‘camera’, and suddenly you get a highly controversial political statement, right?

Feels like an attack on your Second Amendment Rights, little American Idiot with an AR-15 in each hand?

At least my attacks don’t leave dozens of innocent school kids dead.

Word of the Week #111:

Amend

Okay, consider the following situation:

A sports club has 3 coaches and 100 players, and they need to decide the colour of their uniforms.

Coach A wants it to be Yellow.
Coach B wants it to be Blue.
Coach C wants it to be Red.

Since they cannot decide it among themselves, they get the players to vote.

Such democracy… Much wow…

Coach A gets 44 votes.
Coach B gets 35 votes.
Coach C gets 19 votes.

The numbers do not add up? Well, there are always a couple of guys who chose to write in different responses. It happens.

Now, one would be tempted to jump on the phone and order 100 yellow uniforms, plus spares, perhaps? It seems to be the logical conclusion, does it not?

However, is it actually fair to override the wishes of 56 of the players, and force them to wear a uniform that they do not view as an apt representation? Is it the right way to inculcate team spirit?

What happens if Coach B and Coach C come together and suggest a jersey with Blue and Red stripes, which represent the wishes of a larger section of the players? Is that better?

On one hand, 54 is better than 44; on the other, nobody actually voted for that specific combination.

What if Coach C concedes defeat, since he clearly lacks support, and the players are then asked to vote for either A or B?

Apparently, this is what they do in France. And no, this is not a ‘France surrenders’ joke. Take a look at their Presidential Election, for context.

Now, with a possible swing of 21 votes, the results could vary significantly. One could say that these new results are a better representation of what the players want, but we have still not solved the concern about the dissatisfaction of the losing side…

To begin with, does a single vote truly and completely represent the wishes of an individual? Seems like an extreme case of oversimplification, to me.

What if a player X loves Blue, hates Yellow, and is somewhat fond of Red? His single vote for Blue does not capture the rest of his preference.

People are complex, you know.

Perhaps being able to assign a grade to each option would be a better representation?

I agree. Democracy is long, messy and annoying, and too many people seem it interpret it in their own ways.

But for now, it is the best we have.

And if it does not work for everyone, it does not work.

At the end of the day, we are all in the same team.

Word of the Week #110:

Chastity

Now, as most of you would already know, I tend to be a bit of a loner.

Most hours of my day are spent in the musty interiors of my room, furiously staring into a screen.

Even when I do go out, unless I am with a close friend, I will probably just sit in a corner and mind my own business. Striking up a conversation with a middle-aged man sitting at the table next to mine is usually the last thing I would do.

And yet, oddly enough, that is exactly what I did today… And, I came out of it with a few interesting thoughts.

You see, some people are just, as the kids these days call it, ‘woke’. They are conscientious enough to question this world of ours, and intelligent enough to glean some answers.

Now, to quote eden ahbez,

While we spoke of many things,
Fools and Kings,
This he said to me:

Of all sexual aberrations, chastity is the strangest.
— Anatole France

Of course, I am not quoting him verbatim, but when do I ever do that?

Essentially,  his argument was quite simple. Our society has an extremely unhealthy outlook towards sex, and that needs to be changed.

Now, obviously, nobody can quite deny that, but his candid ideas were unexpectedly refreshing.

I think I will quote him verbatim, this time:

“Is it unfair for the youth of our country to expect the freedom to cherish a candid moment with their beloved in a public place that is maintained by their own tax payments?”

Well, it is fair, right?

He was of the belief that what India needs is a more sexual revolution, presumably similar to the one that originated in America in the ’60s.

Me? I am more of a moderate. I believe society will change as we, the parents of the future, choose to mould it to our liking.

Of course, having seen this glacial change come to a halt through his lifetime, he probably thought I was naive to think things what change unless we force them.

Well, even Newton’s First and Second Laws of Mechanics seem to support him. But, on the other hand, I must cite the Third Law: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Nonetheless, things cannot be allowed to stand the way they currently do. Right now, far too many people have a warped understanding of sex.

As long as we keep viewing sex as something one person gives and another gets, instead of it being seen as an experience to be shared by two (or perhaps more, but let us stick with the basics for now) persons, there is no way forward.

And, as the gentleman paid his bill and rose to leave, he leaned over one last time to leave me with his parting words, “By the way, I am a big follower of Osho.”

“Ah,” I responded, as realisation dawned on me. “I see.”

 

Word of the Week #109:

Dichotomy

So, I have a simple question, tonight.

Which of the following would you consider a more important news story?

  1. A comedian is found guilty of drugging and molesting a woman.
  2. Another comedian told mean jokes.

Well, a quick look at the headlines of the day reveals what the media and the government seems to think.

 

 

 

Shall I go into the background of the situation?

Well, there is this annual event known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, attended by, as you can imagine, White House employees and correspondents. This year, as is tradition, a comedian was invited to make fun of the media and the government.

Now, apparently, some people took offence to some of the jokes, namely, and least surprisingly, the media and the government.

So, what were these allegedly filthy jokes?

Well, many people disapproved that she called a liar a liar. Apparently that crossed a line of some sort. She also did compliment her make up, but apparently that also offensive, these days.

So now the man who makes his living by mocking and abusing women, immigrants, foreigners, Muslims, among others, and the minions who work for him, will now tell us what is acceptable and what is not?

And the media, which claims to pride itself on speaking truth to power is suddenly too fragile to have a taste of its own medicine?

Of course, let us just not talk about Fox News… Just, no…

The silver lining of this ridiculous episode is the fact that Michelle Wolf herself has refused to apologise, and all prominent comedians stand strong in her support.

Nonetheless, it is truly a strange time when comedians are held to a higher moral standard than the President.


PS: The Correspondents’ Dinner is supposedly meant to celebrate the Freedom of Speech. The irony…

Word of the Week #108:

Volition

So, yesterday, I tried on a new pair of shoes, for the first time. Good shoes, objectively speaking. They just seem a little more tough, I would say. The sole is somewhat harder.

And as I played wearing them, I could feel the subtle difference under my feet. I could feel the few extra fractions of a second I gained in my air time, as well as the slight additional strain that accumulated each time I landed.

It was, as most things in life are, a trade off.

In its essence, that is what life is, right? The cumulative consequence of all our choices…

You choose a sugary drink over the risk of dehydration? An additional inch of tummy over the week should not be a surprise.

You choose to repair your old vehicle instead of buying a new one? Well, it may just break down again in a month or two.

Choose to follow your passion instead of seeking an ordinary, though reliable job? That is not exactly the path to financial stability, is it?

Yes, life is all about choice… Choices which we are forced to make without sufficient understanding of the consequences.

Sounds cruel, one might say. And I’m not the only one…

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Word of the Week #107:

Hyperbole

So, this week, let us continue a thought that has stayed on my mind for the past couple of weeks.

To be honest, I have no problem with exaggeration. I do it all the time, and I do it better than anyone else.

Yeah, I can probably exaggerate better than Vince Carter can dunk.

And just for context, check this out:

IMG_0621.GIF

Yeah, it doesn’t get much better than that…

Regardless, there are some comparisons that do make me cringe, to say the least.

For instance, every time someone overrules my personal preference on account of their ‘OCD’, I feel an obsessive compulsion to whack them in the head.

“Yeah, I’ve seen you drive, You turn without blinkers and overtake without horns. I really doubt your claims of ‘OCD’, you annoying little prick.”

You see, having seen OCD up close throughout my childhood, I am often able to gauge, at least to some degree, when a person does have a disorder, and when is one just an annoying little prick.

And this precisely is the problem with exaggeration of a certain type. It tends to trivialise something that is far, far from trivial.

Just because you are obnoxious, don’t tell yourself and everyone that you have OCD.

Just because your friend isn’t eating well enough, don’t assume they are anorexic. I mean, they could be, and it is better to be wary, I suppose… Like, on which side would you like to err? A thin line with this one…

Just because your Prime Minister, or President, has some glaringly obvious flaws, don’t just go saying that humanity is on the brink of extinction. I mean, it could be, but you don’t necessarily know that.

In the words of the man I consider one of them greatest minds to have ever lived in the entire universe, DON’T PANIC.