Monday, September 26, 2016

I love tech

I know I am of the age where I am supposed to go, "In the good old days..." and progress from thereon to how the world is going to hell in a hand-basket now. Well, they WERE the good old days and the World is going to hell rather more rapidly than being carried in a hand-basket can manage, but I still love tech.

I know it does some silly little things like improving efficiency in business, could possibly improve efficiency in governance if the bureaucrats would let it and all that, but I do not intend wasting time on all these inessentials. (WHAT?? You think they are essentials? Shows how much you know. Tell me, where do the brightest brains go - into social media and gaming or into these petty jobs? If THEY think it is unimportant, then that is good enough for me.)

You are surprised that I should love tech because of social media? At my age when there probably would be no point in my seeking 'fraanships' with every unwary woman on FB? THAT shows how little you know about how life was before all these things came into being.

It was SO tough to maintain relationships those days. Imagine actually having to remember the birthdays and all of people. THAT meant that you really had to remember them quite often during the year, you know, on the basis of, at least, asking someone, "Say! Vinod's birthday is in March, isn't it?" and then having it rubbed in your face that you were off by a matter of 8 months. Still, you can see that you had to remember Vinod a few times in the year just to wish him on his birthday. NOW...you hardly even need to KNOW the guy. Up pops the notification and, if you are in a particularly niggardly mood that day, you type in a 'HBD' and, presto, you have maintained a friendship.

If THAT were all, I would still not be so happy. Think of all those relationships where you had to actually GO to functions. I mean, getting all dressed up, fighting your way through traffic, pressing flesh, the works! THAT was the only way you could express your close friendship. NOW...ALL you have to do is download a suitable image from the Net and paste it on their wall and, presto, you have attended their function, virtually. Which accounts for why, when someone is hosting a physical event near the North Pole and invites you, and you are marooned on an ice floe near the South pole with only a Net connection to tell you that you are alive, you can still say that you are 'GOING' to the event!

And as far the rest, most relationships can be maintained by clicking 'Like', 'Love' or what you will. Most people KNOW that it is idiotic to expect the relationship to extend to more than one click at a time. There are, of course, those Netiquette illiterates who post links and, to really know what you are 'Liking', you need to click twice. Fortunately, it is not necessary to click on the link to 'Like' the FB post so that can be handled readily.

Tech really has made life easy. The problem, though, is humans are such an irrational species and so bent upon mucking up things. I mean, imagine the guy getting back to you and saying,"Did you read the link?" Any polite person will know that it is not even expected of a wife to actually click twice on her husband's FB post and, if the husband insists, it will count as mental cruelty in the divorce courts.

AND these antediluvian chaps, who come and say, "But I also sent you an invitation and called up to invite. I thought you were a close friend and you did not turn up for the wedding." Despite that lovely wedding wishes card that you spent half an hour hunting up on the Net AND that Amazon Gift Coupon? Really, what did he expect - that I should use up vacation time, drive across the city and sweat it out in a crowd? AND, I am sure, also rack my brains about what would be the best thing to present? Anyway, Amazon Gift Coupons would be better than those bouquets - what, exactly, does one do with some 173 bouquets in a hired wedding hall?

Someone did say it truly. It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. I still love tech but it is time someone educated all people about the new age etiquette!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fishing for compliments

I have never been any good at fishing, except when I fish for compliments. THEN I am all enthusiasm, baiting my hook and dangling it into the stream of Society waiting to hook a compliment. Considering, though, that I generally only lose the bait with no compliment to compensate for the loss, I ought to remove that qualification - I have never been any good at fishing, period! (Oh! I first wrote 'angling', instead of 'fishing', and ended up having nightmares of people accusing me either of not knowing my English or of spending days on the Thesaurus to find the most obscure words possible. Apparently, the phrase 'angling for compliments' is assumed to mean bending the body at right angles and begging for them - not 'fishing for compliments'.)

You know what - I have figured out why angling proves so unproductive in this (I know! I know! But I thought I had just told you what it meant, so you cannot complain about my making you hunt up a dictionary). It is just that people are so diffident. When you say, "I don't think I sang that very well", for example, you expect to say, "No! That was a lovely rendition". What you get, though, is probably silence, if not enthusiastic agreement with what you said ('Yes! That was really pathetic singing' and things like that). It is not necessary that they agree with you, it is just that they do not want to set their own opinions above yours or they are too considerate to disagree with you.

I have tried and tried to tell them that disagreeing with me, when I am being uncomplimentary to myself, does not make them disagreeable to me, but to no avail. I mean, come on, there MAY be some people who are so wedded to their opinions that they will brook no opposition, even if it is complimentary to themselves, but everyone who knows me knows that I am not one of them, considering the way I salivate at even the thought of receiving a compliment but still...

You know, people can be real strange that way. This strange bashfulness for expressing a contrary opinion seems to work in a rather funny way. I mean, people are all too shy about disagreeing with you when YOU are being uncomplimentary to yourself but comes that time when THEY feel you are being too complimentary to yourself, that shyness takes a holiday. Try saying that you did something extremely well, when they do not share that opinion, and you will hear "Says you" or "Only if you were a retarded 3 month old donkey" or "I think you need to check up on the meaning of 'extremely well'" and things like that. Not a sight or sound of the 'How can I hurt you by disagreeing with you' syndrome.

No, it is not that people do not like to compliment and prefer to put others down, though it may be true of some. Nor, indeed, is it because they foolishly think that you would love to have them agree with your denigrating yourself and hate to have them agree with your praising yourself.

I rather feel that it is because people think that you know yourself best BUT you are likely to project yourself in the rosiest light possible. So, when you compliment yourself, and they feel otherwise, they have more confidence in assuming that what YOU say of yourself is wrong. When you downplay yourself and they disagree, they think that, if THIS is the rosiest light in which you can see yourself, THEY must be wrong in seeing you as better than you, yourself, do.

Which is why, whenever you do fish for compliments, all that happens is that people swallow what you say of yourself hook, line and sinker and junk their own opinion.

AND, alas for me, I am the chap who writes what is called self-deprecatory humor...which, in effect, means that people may...MAY...laugh at the humor  but think of me as a joker.

I should take up fishing, instead. I am never going to hook compliments but, who knows, I may hook a fish some day.

Monday, September 12, 2016

I, the orator

As an orator, I make an excellent gymnast. Better by far than any of the gymnasts winning Olympic medals, since they only seem to do one feat at a time. The moment I step up on the podium and speak into a mike, I do multiple feats all at once.

Let us take a roll call of the feats I perform. My vocal chords attempt some synchronized skating inside the throat and tie themselves up in knots, making it feel like I am strangling. The tongue decides it is time to hang upside down and goes and sticks to the roof of the mouth. My heart decides it is time to practice the Produnova - with scant success, considering the confines it is working in and, consequently, either bounces off the diaphragm or gets stuck in the throat. My spine, though, adapts itself well to a gymnast's requirements, turning all rubbery. Meanwhile my hands...I suppose you get the point. Unless you raise nit-picking objections about whether 'I' can be used for each individual part of the body - instead of only the whole, you will have to agree that I outdo any gymnast you can think of.

The first time I had to speak - at school, it was - I started off (after the gymnasts decided to take a break) with "Respected Principal...uh, sorry, I should mention the Chief Guest first...Teachers and...maybe it is better if I refer to my notes, after all, haha...laddies and..oh, no, it is 'Ladies'...my handwriting is so bad that even I cannot read it sometimes, haha..." and was roughly shoved off the podium by my PT master (the most physical guy of the teachers who, alas, was close to me that day).

Everyone and his uncle told me about how jokes are useful to attract audience attention and keep them interested but no-one told me about the problems in using them. There I was at IIM, in a course called "Written and Oral Communication" giving a public speech to my batch-mates for the first time. I start off with a joke and look around expectantly for laughs. Everyone stares back gravely at me as though I had just announced my grandmother's death. Nonplussed, I say "Hahaha" just to encourage them all to laugh and it comes out like a bleat. I do succeed in capturing their attention, for they all lean forward in interest, only to subside back in the seats upon realizing that I was continuing with the speech and had not switched over to doing animal imitations. Meanwhile, the Professor is frantically writing in his notepad - a memo to himself, I suppose, that he should push for a public speaking test too in the selection process, in addition to the usual Group discussion and Interview, so that people like me could be filtered out.

There is a certain problem with acquiring certain degrees. People have these stereotype ideas of certain profession, which is certainly a killer for the person who does not fit the stereotype. I mean, call yourself an Engineer and people expect you to be a good enough handyman around the house - or used to, till Infotech came in and saved the day for those who did not know one end of a screwdriver from the other. Quite similarly, if you are from IIM you are expected to have the gift of the gab - after all, that's your sole expertise as far as most people know. Not that I run totally dry in that area as anyone who has had the misfortune to be caught in what I call a conversation, and he would call a monologue, knows. It is just that I prefer to talk sitting rather than standing and there is something about the magnetic field around a mike that dries my vocal chords. Or, if you prefer what the uncharitable say, where I suffer from verbal diarrhea in private, I suffer from verbal constipation in public.

You know what - this open, honest, manly confession does not avail me a thing. If someone wants me to give a speech, he is all praise for my modesty in disclaiming expertise in this area. Modesty!! My foot!! I am only being honest. Story of my life: When I am being honest, people think of it as modesty. Where I am really being modest, people see it as honesty!

Meanwhile, I have taken to writing and...you know what...a writer is ALSO supposed to be good with words. Egads! A writer AND an IIM grad? I am expected to scintillate!!! Me - about the only thing scintillating would be my head if someone shone a spotlight on it. AND if I fail to speak well - a cast-iron certainty - then obviously I cannot write well or manage well - such, indeed, are the assumptions of the world.

Maybe I SHOULD take up gymnastics instead!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Master of Big Issues

I have figured out why I have not set the world on fire, getting people to run around after me waving selfie sticks. The problem, as usual, is luck - the luck that put me, a born master of big issues, in a situation where I had only small things to do.

I find ready solutions to handling the Kashmir issue. I know exactly what is wrong with the education system, as befits a person who perpetually teetered on the edge of failure, and know how to set things right there. As for industrial policy, the fiscal deficit, curbing inflation - those are things I can solve in my sleep and would, if I can figure out a way to be drinking tea and chatting with my friends while sleeping. With all these multitudinous talents, what am I handed out? These pesky little problems that cross my office desk that my vast brain cannot stoop to finding solutions to, that's what.

You think it is easy doing these big things? I have to get into the minds of the armed forces and police in Kashmir and see their motives - how they love the idea of blinding and killing people there and switch off the inclination the moment they get posted elsewhere. I have to get into the skin of the finance minister and see how he, like Marie Antoinette, casually dismisses inflationary pressures with, "Let them eat cake." I also have to realize how the government is too stick-in-the-mud to devise individual educational philosophies for each citizen. And you casually dismiss my multitudinous achievements merely because I am unable to crawl into the mind of the chap sitting across the table from me and determine whether he is serious about asking for LIBOR + 3.75% or whether he will settle for just a 2% mark-up? You do not realize that it is just that I prefer traveling in exalted terrain.

What did you say? "Nothing is impossible to he who does not have to do it"? Or was it "The confidence of a man in his solutions to problems is in direct proportion to his confidence that he will not be called upon to implement them"? So, you think that I can be confident only about things where I can comfortably TALK about what to do and not where I have to DO them? How typical of people like you! You only know how to troll. I am NOT the 'Master of Big Issues; Loser in Small Things", I will have you know. "MOBI-LIST"? What is with you guys and acronyms?

Okay, you superior guys. Let me ask you one question. You are SO sure that you know what God wants you to do; how He wants you to behave and what He wants you to condemn in the people around you. Tell me, do you know what your spouse wants you to do; how your spouse wants you to behave; what your spouse wants you to condemn in the people around you?

I didn't hear that! What did you say?

Oh! You, too, are a Master of Big Issues?

I thought so!