Sunday, August 17, 2014

Full Grown Idiot

I was at the shopping mall this afternoon looking for something. My wife was on phone explaining the details of what I had to buy. As I searched the shop, I noticed this person who seemed to be overhearing our conversation. Trying not to judge from the looks, I walked to a different aisle only to find this person follow me there.

I closed the call and continued to search, all the while trying to ignore this person. Once he sensed I was off the phone, he came to me and said –

Stranger – Hey, I overhead your conversation. Are you from Bangalore?
Me – Yes I am.
Stranger – I am from Bangalore too.

We then introduced ourselves, spoke of where we grew, our schooling, work place etc. We had a long conversation. Though I spoke to him answering his questions and asking him questions, there was something about him that was bothering me. Rather irritating me. I think it was his initial eavesdropping which had put me off, but I was not sure.

Stranger – So how do you spend time here on the weekends?
Me – I just moved to this city. Everything is new and am still getting used to things around here.
Stranger – You can go to movies. There are some new Indian movies playing at theaters here. They sometimes play Kannada movies too.
Me – Is it… Ok.

Without me asking for it, he took a paper napkin and wrote some theater names which were playing Indian movies. He also wrote his email and phone number on the paper napkin and handed it over to me.

Me – I don’t go to movies often, but thank you! Actually it has been many months since I have been to a movie.
Stranger – What? You don’t watch even Kannada movies? How can you even say you are a Bangalorean if you don’t watch Kannada movies? (He started laughing).

His question was too much for me to take. I looked at him almost wanting to ask him if he was an idiot. What has watching or not watching movies got to do with a city.  Also I have lived and worked in 7 different cities. If I have to watch the regional movies of all different cities I have lived, then I have to quit working and just watch movies.

Me (with a smile) – You have to be a full grown Idiot to say I am not a Bangalorean if I don’t watch Kannada movies.

He smiled at me but didn’t say anything. Suddenly I realized what I had done. I had called him a full grown idiot, whatever it is supposed to mean. I had never heard anybody say that before, and I had actually rubbed that in my answer.

I bid him goodbye and walked out of the store. Even after I had walked some distance, I was still thinking about his question. I couldn’t tell what was it about him that had irritated me but his last question had sealed my thinking. I took the paper napkin he had given and without even wanting to see what he had written, I tossed the full grown idiot down a trash can.

~Narendra V Joshi

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The elusive destiny

We welcomed a new member into our family this week. It’s a baby boy! More than anybody, our daughter Akshara seems super excited! She has already chosen a name, a place at the dinner table, the color of the bike and a whole lot of things for her little brother.
My wife and I had together come up with a list of to-do things once the baby is born, starting with choosing a name. I went through that list today and half scratched one of the “good to have” items from the list - identify the Nakshatra (star) and Rashi (zodiac) and have the horoscope done. I “half” scratched this item because we might still get the horoscope done but what we don’t have to do is to find the Nakshatra and Rashi.

Before going further, let me elaborate on the horoscope part a bit; of course to the best of my limited knowledge. Nakshatra, Rashi, horoscope etc have been big for the Hindus since thousands of years. At the base, these are pure mathematical calculations involving time of birth, the position of the stars and planets at that time among other things. When correctly calculated it can uniquely identify a person, his/her ancestry etc. They are used to ‘predict’ a person’s future by deriving the effects of the different stars and planets based on the person’s birth star/planet. They also help arrive at a ‘compatibility’ number between would-be spouses. People who believe in horoscopes have their own reasons to do so, as do the people who do not believe. For my part I don’t understand much of this to believe or not believe and so I go by what my parents say.

If it’s all mathematical calculations what is there not be believe, you might ask. The answer is in the question. It’s MATHEMATICS (read this as complicated!) One incorrect input or one calculation error or one simple mistake in the formula is enough to arrive at a completely inaccurate result (horoscope). An inaccurate horoscope might sometimes mean taking a tree or a donkey as the first husband/wife before marrying a person! For someone who wears stones, an inaccurate horoscope would mean buying an expensive diamond over an inexpensive stone. You have a good number of people who believe and the believers list includes some of the best known sports stars, film stars, politicians among others.

Getting back to where I left, you might think I ‘half’ scratched the task of identifying the Nakshatra and Rashi because I don’t believe in horoscopes. But as I said earlier, I don’t understand much of this to believe or not believe and I got by what my parents say; and my parents believe in horoscopes. (Feel free to blame my poor mathematics skills!) The reason I half scratched this item is because we don’t have to look at the Nakshatra and Rashi when my son was born as we (meaning my parents and elders in the family) had consulted and decided on the date and time for the child birth. My wife had to undergo a caesarean section and the doctors had asked us to pick a date and time among the ones they had identified. So the birth time, birth date, Nakshatra and Rashi were predetermined and were no more left to luck.

I was thinking about this and could not stop wondering how advancements in medicine have yielded such unrelated yet effective results. It means you no more have to worry about the birth date, birth time, Nakshatra etc. All these horoscope inputs are now completely in your control. You now have a choice to choose the best inputs for your horoscope.

Wait a minute. Did I say ‘best inputs’? Oh, so mathematics is still there. This means a wrong calculation using the best inputs might still mean that first marriage with a tree or a donkey.

Oh man…

~Narendra V Joshi