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.

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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 #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.

Word of the Week #106:

Interlude

Okay, we did have something interesting, and also quite important, to discuss today, as I mentioned last week. However, it looks like we would not be able to get to that just yet, as a little news has popped up that made us want to take a quick break.

You see, the good folks over at WordPress were kind enough to inform us that we have now complete two whole years online. Now, I have no reason to doubt them, but it is odd how 106 weekly posts seem to amount to two years.

Nevertheless, we thought it might be interesting to pause for a moment, and take a look back at the old hits. There have been some pretty good one, haven’t there?

#1: Procrastinate

After all, we never forget our first, do we?

#11: Culture

Oh, this one remains one of my personal favourites.

#16: Conformity

“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

— Ernie, Sesame Street

 

#29: Fortitude

Sometimes, the short ones are the strongest, you know.

#32: Pinata

Damn! This one went really wrong really fast, eh?

#34: Mitigation

This might have been the only time when I willingly and publicly praised the actions of our government. After all, credit where credit is due, right?

#37: Resurgence

A first-hand account of our trials and eventual triumph at the Delhi Comic Con, ’16.

 

#41: Eerie

This was our immediate reaction to the unusually creepy season finale of Sherlock.

#50: Matrimony

“Do you swear to keep mocking this ancient, outdated tradition till death sets you free?”
“I do!”

#60: Morbid

You know what? There are moments like these when I will creep even myself out…

#73: Ornithology

Who here doesn’t occasionally indulge in bird watching, right?

#74: Blitzkrieg

Well, this was the end of an era, to be quite honest. Book Two, Baby!

#77: Credit

You know, the time we discussed whether I get loans…

#80: Monster [Guest Post]

Not taking any names, but I know for a fact that some readers actually cried reading this one…

#81: Scavenger

If you see something, say something. Get it?

#83: Cataclysm

Every heart-touching story can use a sprinkling of some wordplay, right?

#86: Caesura

This talks about the night poetry touched me… You know, in the good way…

#89: Contraceptive

Well, even if the government does not want to talk about it, we will.

#105: Nuance

Yeah, I do believe this last one was quite special.


Of course, if you have any other ones on your mind, do let us know…

We will be back next week…

Word of the Week #102:

Defiance

This has been an interesting week. There are quite a few incidents we could discuss.

A large part of it has been the Farmers’ March, here in our home state. In a nation build on peaceful protest and dialogue, the past few instances of unnecessary violence have left a poor imprint on our collective memories. Therefore, the maturity and consideration of the protesters, and the kindness with which the common citizens have responded, is a refreshing sight for these sore eyes.

But, instead, let us focus on the aforementioned eyes, for a moment.

You know, my life has recently undergone a tragic change. I have had to bit adieu to my favourite drink in the whole wide world: Thums Up.

For the uninitiated, let me just say that Thums Up is a cola drink presumably prepared from the caffeinated waterfalls of heaven, and no earthly drink could ever compete with it. And, in a cruel twist of fate, my body has grown completely intolerant to caffeine.

Now, I haven’t been able to consume chocolate and coffee for all of my adult life, and I have had time to make my peace with that, but this is too sudden and far too cruel, and I have not taken it in my stride just yet.

So, as it would happen, I ended up falling off the wagon, tonight, and boy, did I fall hard. Not because I am weak willed, of course, but only because I refused to drink an orange soda. I mean, there are many atrocities I am willing to tolerate, but orange soda? I’d rather drink my cola and embrace the consequences than put that putrid hell-spew in my mouth.

So, I am now lying in my bed, dizzy and weak, but I remain as proud as a Saiyan Prince. With my head throbbing, my ears ringing, my eyes smarting and my limbs wailing, my only regret is that I have no Senzu Beans to spare…

Yeah, pride comes at a price.