Word of the Week #114:

Scourge

Have you heard of Murphy’s law?

I have mentioned it once before on this blog, so I would expect that you have…

The precise wording still remains unclear, but the general interpretation is that everything that can go wrong, does.

Now, I generally stay as meticulous as I possibly can, and try to keep the margin for error so slim that the consequences do not pile up.

However, all it takes is one jolt to put everything way out of order.

I cannot quite trace where this sequence began, but I have been feeling that these days, whenever I try to do something, whatever can go wrong just does.

For instance, every afternoon, I go to play basketball at court significantly far from my home, and between the extreme heat all afternoon and the kids’ training all evening, I get precisely an hour to play.

Now, as it is, my margin for error is already not great. But what can go wrong? Well, apparently, quite a lot…

Sometimes, I will get dressed, put on my socks, and be half a dozen steps from the door, when splash! I step into a pool of fresh, warm pee.

Yeah, our kids are not entirely trained, yet. Have I talked about them earlier? I should.

Now, cleaning it up, then washing my foot, luckily not feet, and changing the socks takes up roughly a quarter of the hour. Significant.

Sometimes when I do not step into pee, my vehicle just refuses to start.

Of course, my vehicle is ancient, so I tend to include a buffer for that. But when it is so broken that I have to go to a mechanic, as I already have twice this week, that is more than 25 minutes easily.

If my vehicle does start after the first few tries, and I get to the court right on time, I should get an entire hour to play, right?

Well, not if it starts to rain with little to no warning. Not enough to actually cool down the scorching streets, of course. No, it will only rain enough to leave the court unplayable for just about an hour.

And, if I do not step in pee, manage to get there on time, and it does not rain, what happens?

Well, a guy manages to jump onto my leg, breaking my knee and leaving me bedridden for over a week.

Now, on the days that a guy does not break my knee, and of course also the day that he does, I will come home drenched in sweat, longing for a nice shower. That is not too much to ask, right?

Considering how often I have stood under the shower with not water raining down on me but the realisation that, well, the tanks are empty, apparently it is.

When the tanks are not empty, I go into the shower, let the water wash over my skin, and just as I am starting to work up a decent lather, the door bell rings. Repeatedly. Incessantly.

Having washed myself as much and as fast as I could have, I come running down the stairs, only to realise that my Dad is indeed home, and has answered it already.

And if this does not happen, my shower is completed without any incident, what happens?

I come out of the shower, a towel draped over my head, leisurely wiping my hair, when I suddenly realise that those are not droplets  of water that I feel creeping down my shoulder.

I am, however, a moment too late, as  I sense a dozen successive bites across my shoulders and back.

Freaking ants! Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, what are even the odds?

Already a couple of days have passed since that particular incident, and I still have no clues how those ants ended up in my towel.

Now, in the face of such odds, it would be understandable if one were to grow dejected.

However, I have found that the uplifting words of a great man, one Dr. Ken Jeong, always get me up and running.

Not today, kind sir. Not today.


PS: I have been trying to take a shower for the past 4 hours. It would appear that the odds are against us, tonight… 

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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.

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 #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 #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 #105:

Nuance

Tonight, as I was ordering my dinner, I had many thoughts running through my head. You know, as usual…

At the foreground of my mind, I am scanning through the several menus, considering the several options. Unfortunately, all the food I saw could be easily divided into two major groups: Extremely Unhealthy and Extremely Boring.

After having worked quite hard to lose my tummy, and intent on keeping it at bay for as long as I could, I was somewhat leaning towards the latter group. After all, I have other means of entertainment. Food being purely sustenance to the body, while an alien thought to me, still seemed rational.

Then, in the deeper layer of my internal monologue popped a question, one that a friend had earlier asked me in passing and I had earlier disregarded, “Are you anorexic?

Well, I had disregarded it once, but this time, knowing quite well that I had lost almost an eight of my body weight in a span of four months, I decided to consider it.

Now, let me begin by saying that the symptoms associated with anorexia are rather vague, and also vaguely applicable to me.

  • Rapid Weight Loss: Well, that can happen, in life…
  • Fear of Gaining Weight: Isn’t that fairly normal? Some people are protective of their cars or bikes or homes or what not. I am protective of my abs. What is wrong with that?
  • Food restriction: Well, that is just relative, right? If only more people practised moderation…
  • Excessive Exercising: I have goals, but not the corresponding patience. Sue me.
  • Dry skin and hair: Yeah, swimming does that to you. I guess I should moisturise better.
  • Intolerance to cold: I’ve had this one for quite a while, okay?
  • Solitude: Okay, now you’re just picking on me…

Now, this raises a couple of questions. Let us consider one of them, and we could think about the other one later.

Okay, so the question being: “Am I anorexic?

Now, I am far from an expert, but I would like to hazard a guess and say, “No, I quite certainly am not.”

I am a smart kid. I have sufficient experience of sports and exercise and food. I know what my body needs.

Sure, I have lost some weight, but that is not all there is to it. I am smart enough to realise that I was ill far a certain period during that span, and that I ended up losing a significant amount of muscle mass as a result. Therefore, I need to regain some muscle, and I still have fat to spare. Both of these require an apt combination diet and exercise.

So, no, I am not starving myself to death. I am working towards a healthier being. This is not a disorder. This is a lifestyle, and a pretty healthy one at that.

I know I have wavered in the past few months, but as long as I can find the right balance and then continue to maintain it, I should be quite fine.

I will admit, though… Reading about it did give me a momentary scare.

Self-diagnosis over the internet is so not a good idea.