Word of the Week #116:

Pivot

Now, before you get your hopes too high, let me just clarify that this is not a Ross Geller appreciation post.

Although, now that I think about it, that too is long overdue…

No, today we talk about this one trick that politicians and their spokespersons use when asked a difficult question.

The truly inept ones will start by lying, and end up looking foolishly out of depth. Of course, for some individuals, this is their go-to move.

The skilled ones, however, will follow a simple routine to dance around the discussion until the interviewer and the audience are too confounded to carry on.

I could teach you how to do it, if you’d like…

Step #0: Catch the interviewer, or the camera, in a dead eye stare. Establish a position of benevolent dominance.

Step #1: Catch a keyword, or a phrase, from the question and shoot off into an unrelated tangent. This way, it looks like you have answered the question, but you have not.

Now, most interviewers, either trying to seem polite or adhering to a strict timeline, will let the question go. Some reporters, however, are more tenacious than others, and will keep repeating the question. What do you do now?

Step #1 (a): As a novice, you might try to dodge the specifics and continue to move farther and faster on the tangent. This may exasperated the interviewer enough to lose balance, or simply leave the audience too disinterested to care.

Step #1 (b): Once you are experienced enough, you will be able to take this chance to paint the interviewer as a biased, and rude, opponent, instead of being a neutral observer. This is meant to sow seeds of mistrust towards the media, and will usually polarise the audience.

Step #2: Blame it on the opposition. This is, of course, the most basic tactic but its efficacy is almost alarming. Irrespective of whether this blame is justified, the audience will be distracted from the facts.

Step #3: Equate the interviewer with the opposition. Firmly establish a bias against yourself. YOU are the real victim here.

Step #4: Counter. Since you have already established that the media is the opposition and the opposition is guilty, you can now force your interviewer on the defensive with some sharp questions and allegations of your own.

  • If he tries to dissociate himself from your allegations, he undercuts your opponents in the process.
  • If he tries to justify your opponents’ actions, he further consolidates the perception of bias.
  • If he tries to dodge the questions or deny the allegations, he seems evasive and unreliable.

In any of the above, you are the winner.

Step #5: Accept your victory, and assure the audience that things are better with you in charge of the situation.

See. Simple, right?

Of course, don’t blame me if you try this on your college professor and get into trouble, okay?

Class dismissed.

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Word of the Week #115:

Dejection

Did you watch the NBA Finals, last week? I did.

And if you did not watch the actual games, you might take a look at the results and assumed that what transpired was exactly what everyone expected, going into the series: The Warriors were far too superior, and the Cavs had no chance whatsoever

Well, of course, you would be gravely mistaken.

The first thing to take away from this series was that th ere are no forgone conclusions in sports. Or even in life, for that matter.

But it was the second thing I learned that really resonated with me: Not every loss is the same.

See, it is one thing to play badly and lose. That happens to the best of us. Sometimes the opponent is just too strong, and sometimes we just have a bad day. It happens, and it is okay. You can still come back, play better, and hope to win.

But there are times when you clearly have a historically great game against a historically great team and you drag your historically mediocre crew to within inches of victory, and what happens?

You have one teammate missing a clutch free throw, another who has no idea of the score, and a head coach who does not know you have a time out left.

I believe this response sum up your feelings perfectly.

IMG_0623.GIF

No wonder it ended up being the meme of the week.

When you do everything you need to, in order to win, but you still fall short, what do you do? What can you do? How can you not break from a loss like this?

Cleveland did. They showed no fight for the rest of the series. And now that the season is over, and LeBron is, in all probability, going to walk away the first chance he gets, it is highly likely that they will never fully recover.

And LeBron? Well, he might take a moment, but I think he will be just fine.

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:

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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 #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.

Word of the Week #104:

Denounce

Ever since I can remember, I have always heard how cricket was supposed to be a gentlemen’s game. Playing the sport for all of my childhood, the concept of sportsmanship had been etched deep into my mind.

It is partly because of these memories that the events of this week about the details of the state of the sport, and the attitudes of those who practise and govern it, have left me quite disheartened.

Now, of course, I am not talking about the allegations of corruption surrounding DDCA. No, today, we talk about the rot at the very top.

Today, we talk about what is increasingly being referred to as the Sandpaper Gate.

Sure, enough has been said about the players who were caught in the act, and were thus forced to confess. But what about the men sitting high up in the governing council, who thought a one-match ban would suffice for the mastermind, while the actual culprit gets away with little more than a slap on the knuckles?

To put this in perspective, back in 2008, when Australia was visiting India, Gautam Gambhir received a one-match ban for seemingly elbowing a Shane Watson who was quite obviously impeding the batsman’s natural running motion and was clearly in the wrong. You cannot jump in the path of a moving vehicle and then blame your injuries on the driver, can you? Well, apparently you can.

This was not an isolated instance, of course. Many players from the subcontinent have faced punishments disproportionate to their infractions, while Australian and English players seem to get away conveniently.

I wonder what the reason might be…