Word of the Week #158:

Epicurean

Can food change the world?

Well, food can change a life. And if you change enough lives, you change the world, right?

Actually, if you think about it, it has already happened.

Back in the 15th century, the Ottomans captured Constantinople and raised the taxes on spices. This was the reason why the Portuguese rulers, and eventually others, began searching for alternate routes to India, and ended up discovering North and South America, Australia and several other islands.

So it can be said that the entire identity of the modern world is based on Europe’s pursuit of better food.

And ingredients like tomatoes, which now form the backbone of Italian and Spanish cuisines, did not originate in Europe. They were brought to Europe by the early South American settlers.

And today, can we even imagine pizza without tomato?

The food recreates the world, and the world recreates the food… It is a beautiful circle…

You know what else is a beautiful circle?

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Word of the Week #157:

Discourse

I like politics.

I suppose that might seem strange to some people, but yeah, I do enjoy it.

It is the most entertaining spectator sport on this planet, some might say. And it is definitely the most consequential one.

But as with most sports, there is a right way to play. Unfortunately, most participants do not seem to appreciate that.

You can win by focusing on your own strengths, right?

Talk about tax reform. Talk about better public education. Talk about better public transportation. Talk about clean, cheap and reliable energy. And, occasionally, back up your talk with some actual performance.

When you have true game, you do not need to rely on thumping your chest, talking trash about your opponents and stretching the rules to their limits and hoping the referees do not notice. Those skills may be a part of a champion’s wide repertoire, but are not a winning strategy.

Just play hard and play fair. If you are good, there is no reason why you cannot win.

After all, what is the point of playing dirty and winning, when half the audience is only going to hate you and everything you represent for the next 4-5 years.

Word of the Week #156:

Vicissitude

Change.

Everybody wants it, and yet, nobody seems to want it.

Do you want better public transport? Sure!
Do you want a new Metro Station right outside your door? Absolutely!
However… Do you want a construction site right outside your door for the next year and a half, bringing with it the traffic, noise and dirt that invariably accompany it?

Nobody wants it.

But that is the thing about change. It is not a result, it is a process.

If you cannot commit to the process, you do not deserve the result.

Change.

Word of the Week #103:

Vexation

Generally, I love science fiction, especially the futuristic ones.

And while I do enjoy a good post-apocalyptic dystopia, tonight I am talking about the more urban futurism, the kind one would expect from something like I, Robot or Avatar or Fifth Element, or even Altered Carbon, more recently.

I love how these stories transport us to a wonderful world where the realm of reality has been expanded upto, and often beyond, the limit of our expectations.

The brief escape they provide can be valuable…

This escape, however, comes at a cost. The stark contrast they offer to this ridiculously mundane world of ours can be quite disheartening, and even infuriating at times.

Sure, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, but it has not even nearly caught up to what was promised in Back To The Future.

And do you know where this contrast between what is and what could be becomes the most jarring? Why, the banking sector, of course…

Have you been to a bank, lately? Since the advent of e-banking and such, we don’t have to, as often as we used to, so we don’t have necessarily care as much. However, an occasional encounter is enough to remind us exactly how archaic and patchy our banks still are.

I mean, an entire afternoon to reset your net banking password and linking your PAN to your account is not reasonable, okay.

And the removal of what doesn’t work is really the bare minimum. There are still way too much we can do, and it is annoying when nobody does it.

Now, is it fair to blame them for not living up to our expectations? I don’t see why not.You see, the technology does exist. If you won’t use it for banking, of all things, then where will you?

As consumers, it is our right, nay, duty, to keep whining about mediocrity, and to keep dreaming about excellence.

As a great man once said, the future must remain bright.

Word of the Week #85:

Revelry

Just this Sunday, my sister and I were sitting in a cab. I was looking out the window, as we whizzed past the flashing lights.

“I have a meeting till 5PM on Thursday,” she suddenly announce. “I don’t think I will be able to make lunch.”

“Huh? Okay,” was all I could elicit, at the moment, not sure what to do with this little piece of information.

It is not like her to make small talk, after all, nor is she known to volunteer information for no good reason.

Also, considering her schedule, it was almost always impossible for her to have lunch at home on a weekday, and I could not see why she would feel the need to specify it, that too days in advance.

I stared at her for another few seconds, before either of us could spoke again, and I was so wrapped in my thoughts that I do not remember even a word of what followed.

What I do remember is the sensation when, after an entire minute of befuddlement, realisation finally dawned on me: Thursday also happens to be my birthday.

It may seem odd to some, but to me birthdays do not seem like a big deal… Especially when we are talking about my own. If it is someone else’s, I would still love to make a big fuss for their sake. That is still fun.

But, you see, I have already seen enough birthdays. Their novelty has already faded. Now, it is no longer a day I look forward to for the weeks, or even days, that precede it. Moreover, I have not even been able to spend it with the entirety of my family, for the past two years. That rather dampens the effect.

Now, I do not say that I will not celebrate. It has been a good year, and all good things deserve a celebration, right?

But, more than Thursday, I am looking forward to Wednesday night. On 15th of November, 2017, we commemorate the third anniversary of the completion of the first draft of Arrkaya: Origins, after a marathon writing session that lasted 46 hours and ended only because the manuscript was complete. It is the time to remember one of the finest day in my short lifetime, and I could not be more proud.

So, the party does not start at midnight. No, it shall start at 10PM. Just as it did, three years ago…

This week should be fun.

Word of the Week #84:

Paternity

Do you have children? If not, would you like to?

And no, that is not an offer, only an enquiry.

It is just that lately, due to recent changes I mentioned last week, I have been pondering over the challenges of being a parent. Only the challenges, unfortunately, and none of the rewards, because, well, are there any?

I generally like to think of myself as a ‘silver-linings’ kind of a guy, but in this case, I just cannot see beyond the dull greys.

Children are stupid. That is just a simple truth. Sooner or later, they will find a way to put themselves or you or someone in grave danger.

Sure, they may seem cute while they are clean and quiet, but you cannot expect them to stay that way for too long.

Being a parent is tough, it is often said, but there are many who would disagree. In fact, even I would disagree. Being a parent, in and of itself, does not seem all that tough.

However, being a good, responsible parent, one who can strike the right balance between care and discipline and is attentive and neither too aloof nor too clingy on a consistent basis, now that is a tall order.

Interestingly, I forgot to pack any nightwear for my trip to Bangalore. Now, if I cannot even be trusted to be responsible for my luggage, how can I even comprehend being responsible for an entire new life?

On top of everything, we never receive any training whatsoever for what is undoubtably the most important endeavour one can undertake, but thank goodness I spent decades learning how to calculate the area of a cordate.

To be honest, I do not even like this idea of unilaterally creating life and then nurturing it according to our will. It is almost too much power for a single individual. For one, if I have noted anything in the past couple of years, it is that too many people are too stupid.

Of course, it is not entirely a unilateral prospect. Bilateral at the very least, right?

So, until I do not have a willing partner, it is all moot.

And, well, looks like it will stay that way for at least the foreseeable future.

Word of the Week #83:

Cataclysm

Who likes change? I don’t.

What is there to even like?

Let alone the big stuff, I struggle to even tolerate small changes in the weather. The very thought of buying a new phone or laptop or vehicle is enough to make me hyperventilate.

Of course, I have no money and cannot afford any of those things, but that is beside the point…

Now, we did talk a few weeks back about the changes a person undergoes, in order to reach greater heights, and that is obviously a different thing altogether. I don’t exactly love it, but I do understand and appreciate it.

However, there are certain changes that seem far less benign, and I count myself lucky for never having had to endure any of them. Now, I am still only thinking about things like switching schools or relocating, both of which appeared at the horizon at certain points in my childhood, and we somehow managed to evade both these looming disasters.

These days, however, I am living my life a little beyond my comfort zone, and experiencing these changes, albeit second-hand.

And, of course, my life is still enviably comfortable, so…

Nonetheless, a new chapter has begun. Our brave protagonist finds himself stripped from the warmth of his childhood home, into a mysterious land filled with unspeakable horrors.

Let us see how his story pans out.

Stay tuned for more…


PS: You see, ‘unspeakable’ because, well, cats cannot speak.