Monday, March 30, 2009

Sleaze and Wisdom

He was certain that those were pretty much the raunchiest lines he had read in his 9 years of existence. It was confusing, because he had not expected those lines in a book that had been thrust into his hands much to his dislike, to be read and followed in life; and that too by his mother, of all the people.

As Mac, his trusted advisor in matters of sleaze, turned the pages and introduced him to the eroticism of Song of Songs, the confusion gave way to wonder.
“Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.”
Wow, he thought. Sunday school might not be as boring as he thought it would be. He started doubting the wisdom of having resisted his parents’ attempts to send him to Sunday school for 2 years. Duck Tales on Doordarshan suddenly looked less appealing than ‘breasts like a cluster of grapes’.

‘When are they going to teach us all this stuff?’

Mac gave him a smile of derision, like a man who had seen it all. ‘Never,’ he said. ‘You should explore and find all the stuff yourself.’

‘You mean there is more?’

‘Yeah! Even dirtier stuff.’

He dared not ask Mac to show him the rest of the stuff. Good kids, which he definitely was one, did not go around reading dirty stuff. But his look said it all. Mac felt elated at this elevation of stature – he was one of the big boys now.

‘Ok. But I don’t have much time. Note down the chapters and verses and read it at home,’ said Mac, quickly flicking through the pages to find the sections of interest.

He suddenly felt a deep sense of appreciation for the genius who had introduced numbering of verses in the bible.

While he was furiously jotting down Mac’s lecture notes, the teacher had noticed that 2 kids in the last bench weren’t paying attention.

‘So what gift would you have asked from God if you were given a chance like King Solomon?’ the teacher asked him in an attempt to get their attention back.

All eyes in class were on him. He was thinking furiously to figure out what was being discussed in class before his attention had wandered to more interesting things.

Oh yes, the story of the wise king Solomon and God’s offer to give him anything he wanted. He knew the ‘right’ answer, of course – wisdom. But then the teacher had been specific – what would he have asked from God. Even his 9 year old brain could figure out that what worked for Solomon need not work for him, the requirements were completely different, especially with the demands of the modern world. Besides he figured that he had tonnes of wisdom already.

‘I would ask for a helicopter,’ he replied with a sincere expression on his face.


That evening he started an in-depth study of the Bible which would last several weeks, much to the surprise of his parents. The scholarship he had gained over the weeks made him confident about facing Sunday school exams. To his disappointment though, not a single question was asked from the sections he had meticulously researched. That year, he set a record of sorts in the exams, scoring an unprecedented 2 marks out of 100. He has not yet figured out how he got those 2 marks.


He still maintains that a helicopter is a damn fine choice. Try commuting in Chennai if you are not convinced.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Conversation With The Man With No Desires

A couple of weeks ago, it was that time of the year. Birthday. And I had this conversation my friend Rags, the Man with No Desires.

Me: So it's my birthday tomorrow, you know. I'm thinking of getting something I've really wanted for a long time.

Rags: What do you want?

M: A nice camera, something semi-DSLRish

R: And you want a camera because...

M: Always wanted one. I think there is a budding photographer in me. Some of the shots I took with Rahul's DSLR were awesome. Imagine what I could be doing with a little practice.

R: 3 things - First, there is something known as beginners luck. Secondly, any random shot with a DSLR looks good to a guy who has seen only point-and-shoot cameras in his life. Thirdly, those were awesome? Don't kid yourself.

M: Hey, that's mean!

R: Ok son, how much are we talking about for this 'little practice' sessions?

M: Around 25k. But it's totally worth it. I mean, you buy a camera like this only once, right? If I don't buy it now, imagine the number of photo ops I will be missing out on. And I'll be missing many years that I could have used to hone my photography skills.

R: So let me break this down - you want to take pictures, hence you want a camera. Good. But why do you want to buy a camera. You know I heard this kind of arguments from Raj before he bought his ultra expensive camera. He disregarded my advice and now it's gathering dust in his cupboard. Why don't you borrow it from him for a week or so? He will be more that willing to lend it to you. Keeps the moving parts in the camera working.

M: Hey, why do you have to be such a damp squib? I didn't ask you for objective analysis of the options available to me. I should have just talked to Badri. He wouldn't have spoiled my enthu with eminently well-reasoned arguments against buying a camera.

R: Son, haven't you heard of the recession sweeping across the globe? Trust me, you need the cash now. Buy whatever you want a year from now. Not now.

M: Hmm. You're right. I won't buy the camera. I think I'll buy an iPod. eBay has some great offers, plus they have given me some good vouchers.

R: Don't you see what's happening here? You've fallen into the consumerist trap prepared for people with disposable income like you. You really don't need anything. You just need to splurge on some gadget to feel good on your birthday. Go watch a good movie, go for a trek, have a good dinner, take a stroll on the beach. There are tonnes of stuff you can treat yourself with on your birthday.

M: Shit! I should have not talked to you at all.

So I ended up not buying anything for myself. Just like all the 24 birthdays before this one. I was seriously beginning to become one of them - people who think spending money on expensive and useless not very useful gadgets is justified just because it's your birthday. So next time you feel the itch to use your credit card at eBay, read this post.

PS: I just realized that if I applied this logic to all my purchases, I'd be living the life of an hermit. And Rags is going to B-school this fall. I wonder how he will encourage consumer spending as a future business leader.