Thursday, January 22, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Today I wrote this letter to my younger self. You are free to read it and decide if it makes any sense. If you find anything of value in the letter, you may take it home. In any case, please do leave me some comments (maybe I could gather something of value from them).
My dear Pradeep At Twenty,
I’ve heard people say that reality bites. Many of these people advocate the use of fantasy as a channel to escape the pangs of hard facts. In this friendly letter, I hope to offer you an alternative: a way to handle reality without necessarily having to escape from it.
At the very outset I clarify that I find nothing wrong in the concept of fantasy. A well-written fantasy novel is worth the read if it will open the doors to a new, beautiful, hopeful and peaceful world where happy endings bring showers of joyful tears. It’s worth it. It may not always appeal to me, but I hold nothing against it. A good cartoon, or an animated movie in which a mouse, a cat or a dog go bonkers is equally worth it. Even at 34 I would never like to miss “The Tom and Jerry Show”, “The Popeye show”, “The Flintstones”, “The Jetsons”, “Asterix and Obelix”, and so forth. They are all wonderful. The more, the merrier!
Does reality not bite? Yes, it sure does! It does so in different ways, and to varying degrees. At times it glides in stealthily from behind you and nibbles at your neck, driving chills through your spine. You may be able to remember such times. At other times it voraciously gnaws at your juicy buttocks, perhaps taking a big piece of your ass (read soul if you want) as it leaves. You may be able to remember such times, as well.
I recall the times when hard facts had hit me, or when reality had bit me. I discern that the wounds I have suffered fall under three very significant groups: paining-wounds, healing-wounds, and where-the-heck-are-the-wounds.
Paining-wounds are those that still hurt much, and may never heal unless I get up and decide to do something about them (I have realized that, contrary to the popular belief, time does not heal on its own).
Healing-wounds are those that used to be paining-wounds, but I had got up and decided to do something about them, and they currently show signs that they may heal in due course (due course has no exact definition).
Where-the-heck-are-the-wounds. Now, this is a surprising group. These are wounds that I had expected to suffer (as when reality had chewed off a large piece of my ass). But they do not exist; nor does the pain! Why not?
The answer became obvious after a little analysis, mixing the ancient wisdom (laughter is the best medicine) with a bit of introspection. I realized that whenever I had laughed in the face of hard facts, they could not wound me. Humor had indeed shielded my ass. Humor had saved my soul. The understanding was complete, and very satisfactory.
Although fantasy certainly offers a channel to escape the pangs of reality, it is short-lived; it offers no balm. You may enjoy a dip in a bathtub ready with warm water on a cold winter night, but that satisfaction is short-lived. You can’t possibly spend the whole winter in the tub. The moment you are out of the tub, it’s winter again.
The alternative I have to suggest is humor: perceiving humor in the very face of the biting reality. That way, you wouldn’t have to run away or escape from hard facts, but could rather face them and laugh at them with courage and vitality. It seems to work. Every time.
You may contend that creating or perceiving humor amidst hard facts is not easy, and bringing yourself to laugh in the face of reality seems impossible at times. Undeniably True. Even in my case. Otherwise I would never have suffered any wounds.
Nevertheless, I shall attempt to walk this path henceforth. If only I had understood as much when I was your age, I would perhaps have suffered much less. At least, I can now try to avoid wounds in future. I encourage you to try and do the same. After all, you have nothing to lose by your attempts, and so much to gain.
Pradeep At 34
Friday, January 09, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.
Here are the glorious top 10 winners:
1. When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended
victim during a hold-up in Long Beach , California , would-be robber
James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered
down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked. And
now, the honorable mentions:
2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a
meat-cutting machine and, after a little shopping around, submitted a
claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent
out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine
and he also lost a finger. The chef's claim was approved.
3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car
during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman
had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.
4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus
driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be
transporting from Sarare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit
his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered
everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers
to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very
excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn't
discovered for 3 days.
5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious
head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he
received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying
to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was
6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the
counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer,
the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which
the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and
fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he
got from the drawer... $15. [If someone points a gun at you and gives
you money, is a crime committed?]
7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided
that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window,
grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it
over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the
would-be thief in the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store
window was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.
8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man
grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the
woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher.
Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in
the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of
the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he
replied, 'Yes, officer, that's her. that's the lady I stole the purse
9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a
Burger King in Ypsilanti , Michigan , at 5 A.M., flashed a gun, and
demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't
open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered
onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The
man, frustrated, walked away. [A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER]
10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked
on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police
arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor
home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man
admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into
the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle
declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever