Category Archives: Philo Fatte

Running with an idea

Recently three things happened to me in close succession.

1) I attended a Production 101 at CP+B, where I am currently interning for the summer, and I got to see an ad series CP+B had done for Internet Explorer on the theme of ‘safe browsing’. Inspired by the scam e-mails all of us have received at some point in our internet lives – promising us money from a bank in Nigeria or an inheritance from long lost ancestors, they created physical equivalents of those in Manhattan to see how people will engage with them. Here’s what happened:

CP+B’s campaign for Internet Explorer

 

 2) I read (still am reading) a book called Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman (referred to me by the beautiful @jdelc) in which the protagonist, a fictionalised version of Einstein, imagines alternative worlds if time was manifested differently. For example, he imagines a world in which the past does not exist, or a world in which people live in houses made on stilts because time moves slower with altitude .

3) I started watching South Park – two episodes were especially interesting. One featured a character called towelie  – who in the beginning seemed like one of random those comic interruptions (that we frequently used in IIT skits and Music Manoranjan) until it became a central element in the story. In another episode, Cartman postulates that eating from your anus must imply that you will poop from your mouth, proves it, and then it becomes a nationally accepted and healthier method of eating. Definitely see the Martha Stewart turkey recipe based on this new eating trend.

The reason why I find all these examples interesting is that I can imagine in the beginning, when these would’ve been mere ideas, they must’ve seemed particularly idiotic. They must’ve met with skepticism – “Really, we are going to make a fake bank in Manhattan?”, “Or, time moving slower with height? That just sounds stupid”. “We are going to have a towel which the military wants to abduct?”

But in all of these instances, the creators really ‘ran with the idea’. Much as in Improv, they took a ‘Yes, and’ approach to build on what must’ve sounded idiotic. Cartman thinks if we eat from our ass, we should poop from our mouth. Yes, and he proves it to be true. Yes, and it becomes national news. Yes, and it gets scientifically proven to be the healthiest way of eating. And so on. Even as viewers, we often start off with skepticism, but eventually that evaporates. Here’s a little graph I made to represent this.

The Idea-Reaction Graph

(Partly inspired from ‘Life of a project’ sketch from the book Steal Like an Artist.

At Stanford, one of the basic rules of brainstorming is to go for wild ideas. Yet several of those wild ideas don’t make the cut in the post-brainstorm idea selection process. Infact, sometimes even the less outrageous ones don’t make the cut, because someone starts playing the Devil’s Advocate “This will not work because…”. (Read the introductory chapter in Tom Kelley’s 10 Faces of Innovation to learn why the Devil’s Advocate persona is not the best persona all the time http://www.tenfacesofinnovation.com/thebook/intro.htm). However, the reason why they are so wild is because they are challenging an assumption or an axiom or even a natural law that most of us believe cannot be superseded.

However, if you were to run with that idea – do a ‘Yes, and’, do a build (as one of my good friends often encourages me to do, instead of being a skeptic) – I think that will always lead to new insights – (or at least provide an entertaining diversion). I’d imagine even just crafting a narrative with them – something like what Lightman does in Einstein’s Dreams – a one page write up starting with “What if <insert wild unbelievable idea>” – can help unearth the assumptions that those ideas are challenging. Perhaps this alternative world that emerges in that narrative can be achieved through another means. Maybe there are other regions in the world where these assumptions can be easily broken. The wild ideas can be often adapted for feasibility. After all, isn’t all science fiction built on running with an idea – several of which become truths years after they get published.

Memento Mori

Watching the Batman marathon last week reminded me of the genius that is Christopher Nolan. Then I remembered Memento – the first Nolan movie I had seen which got me wondering if the short story that it was based on, ‘Memento Mori’ , was by by Philip K Dick (As it turns out it isn’t – it was written by Nolan’s brother).

What that search led to however, is the meaning of the phrase ‘Memento Mori’: It is a latin for: ‘In the future, remember to die’, also translated as ‘Remember you will die’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori). Of course, this reminded me of something that Steve Jobs said in his famous commencement speech – “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”(http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html).

What it also reminded me of was one of the thought experiments in the book Einstein’s dreams. In Einstein’s dreams Alan Lightman (or rather his fictional Einstein) imagines different manifestations of time. What if time was circular, what if it moved more slowly with altitude, what if we only lived for a day and so on. One of those thought experiments is about living forever (and I mean without a blood thirst). He imagines that in this world, people would be split between the Laters and the Nows. The Laters feel like they need to be in no hurry to begin their lives – to go to college, to fall in love, to do anything. Since there is endless time, anything can be accomplised. The Nows on the other hand, given infinite lives can now do everything that they want. They will have an infinite number of careers, marry an infinite number of times – they move through a succession of lives eager to miss nothing.

I sometimes feel like a Now, stuck in a finite life. As you can imagine, I frequently have bouts of FOMO. http://caterina.net/2011/03/15/fomo-and-social-media/ and http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fomo

I have a lot of lists. I have a list of things to watch (spread across Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, TED and IMDB), I have things to read(Bookmarked on Readability or a never ending Wish List on Amazon) , places to travel to, things to do at those places, sports to play, friends to make, musical instruments to learn, songs to listen to, books to write, blogs posts to publish, successful people to emuate, successful people to beat, successful people to meet, restaurants to visit, companies and projects to start, skills to learn, web articles to read and so on (Okay, not everything is on a list, but given the right app, they probably will be). And yet I have one life. I wonder how many lifetimes I would need if I were to actually calculate how long it will take for me to do these things.

We live in a world of such plenty, that there is always something to do, something new, something to fill our time with. One of my most memorable life experiences were when I worked at an NGO for a month, in the town (village?) of  Hatgamahria in Chattisgarh. Oh! the joys of a simple life. I got one newspaper to read everyday, the only news magazine I could find was when I traveled to the (only marginally more endowed) town of Chaibasa in a rickety bus, there was no cell service, no internet.  I wanted to run away after the first two weeks, but then I got used to a life with limited choices – and gained so much more from it than when I am in the city and spreading myself too thin. I have to remind myself of #13 on this http://zenhabits.net/38/ every now and then.

Prof. Burnett, one of my teachers was once telling a bunch of executives about saying ‘No’ by relating one of his life experiences. A long time ago he would have a never ending to-do list. He would say yes to something, and then it wouldn’t get done because he just hadn’t gotten to it yet. Now, he curates that list carefully. He says no to a lot of things, but the things that do make it to that list are the things that get done.

A good life, much like good design is not about what you add but what you take away. To consume less, to create more. So I want to tell myself, memento mori. Remember that and prioritise. Remember that and act. Remember that and create. Remember and therefore not regret.

App Idea

Of course, I would go right ahead and turn this into an app idea, wouldn’t I? An app where you can make any kind of a list. But an app that also reminds you that not everything on those lists can be done in your lifetime. I know what I will call it: Mori.

We are still Closet Socialists

I often find that I sell myself short. When it comes to doing client work – I’d undercharge, or I’d make the matter of money very trivial – as if it was the last thing on my mind, and be extra eager to please – ‘Haanji, yeh bho ho jayega ji’. Of course I’d realise later what I had signed up for – and have begun to learn the hard way that it is definitely the wrong way to go!

What’s interesting is when I recently worked with a freelance Illustrator for some design work, he seemed to be echoing the same feelings. This was a young guy, fresh out of college with maybe a few months work experience. The work that we were doing increased a bit – but he did not ask me to re-evaluate the quote and I assumed that it was okay with him. Later when it came to the final payment and I asked him why he did not talk about this earlier, he said ‘Mujhe paise ki baat karna achcha naheen lagta’.

And I realised that a lot of us perhaps still attach a certain amount of guilt to the pursuit of money – we guys are still closet socialists. Note that it is not that we think that money is wrong – it’s just that we are reluctant to ask for it. I’m not sure if this was the right phrase to describe this mentality, but here’s what Pavan K Verma in his book Being Indian writes on the chapter on Wealth:

The year 1991 removed the stigma associated with the pursuit of wealth. It buried the need for hypocrisy for the aspiration to be rich … People could now do openly – and with greater effectiveness – what they had tried to do surreptitiously under Nehruvian socialism:find ways to make money for themselves.

Perhaps we (I?) still need to pull myself out of this mentality.

A related post on my design blog: Dihari baandhna mat bhoolo

Stay Organised

Note to myself: Cleaning up through the mess is a lot more difficult than keeping it organised in the first place.

I always have these cleanup sessions on my PC where I spend a few hours moving files which I have piled on to my desktop and random arcane folders into relevant folders. I guess it is just easier being slighlty less lazy and putting a file where it belonged in the first place.

On the flip side, I actually end up looking at a file again and can sort of reassess what to do about it – which might not have happened if it wasn’t to be moved. Though I must admit even in this case there is more noise than signal.

Of course, you will tell me : install Google Desktop. Or you will tell me : once tag-and-search become ubiquitous this organisation may not be needed at all. But for now I would like the organisation of my digital life to mimic the physical. Because the the latter will probably never mimic the efficiencies possible with the former.

Cleaning Up

Another let-me-clear-out-my-drafts post.

Of half-baked notions conceived during periods of unforeseen stupidity, Of iceberg-tip ideas that could have become revolutionary thought pieces, Of extended ramblings that are now reduced to mere twitters,but of course, to to make way for more.

Basically, blog posts I had planned to write but now the events around which these ideas had formed have faded in my memory – so a few words on each (which after having written the post, I realise are not that few).

Rumors:

It is interesting to reflect on how Rumors are the social equivalent of a biological virus. How they spread like there is no tomorrow. How they distort truth to a point where it is often difficult to differentiate what the truth really was – and yet they are often but a reflection of the truth. How they never die out. How a rumor can often destroy the life and reputation of some people – never to be universally redeemed. Perhaps I should read this or something similar some day.

Can an author’s characters convincingly express views contrary to his/her own?

What was I going to write here? I have put God’s Debris as a reference. I didn’t read the entire book, but it is basically a discourse between two people about God. Maybe somewhere I felt that the discussion was futile, because even though the characters are countering each other’s point of view, one of them were stating arguments as if they were meant to be refuted. Thus the author’s point of view prevails, even with a character who is trying to state the opposite – he is but a creation of the author. I might be wrong here. Scott Adams even states in the book’s introduction: “You won’t discover my opinions by reading my fiction” – and I would expect a man with Scott’s intelligence and humor to be capable of creating a completely independent character. Perhaps I need more evidence – or maybe read the entire book.

On Jargon: How it creeps into your worldview and everyday conversation unbeknownst to you. Often you only realise much later that you are using words and phrases which even you don’t fully understand – yet base your decisions upon them.

One of the interesting ones I can remember is ‘ Value Addition’. A colleague from my previous job use to keep mouthing this (so did I, I think) – “I am leaving this job, there is no value addition”. Another favorite – the world over is – Web 2.0. This is worth reading by the way.

When Less is More: Really? I actually thought like that – the endless multitasker? I have mentioned Jharkhand. I had been to Jharkhand in June 2005 for a 5 week long internship at an NGO called Pradan. In the din of city life I have almost forgotten what it was like to be there.

I just remembered how there was a lot less available to do there. No TV, No Internet. One English newspaper (HT) and two-three magazines at most (Businessworld/Outlook). And of course, my market research project at Pradan. But because I had less things to do I did them well.

For the first time in my life, I read newspapers cover to cover every day. From being completely illiterate about Politics, I picked up on a few stories because I followed them everyday. Which made me realise how you make sense of things not from the point go – but incrementally bit-by-bit. To learn something you don’t need to start over (Oh! let me reach back into history and learn all about this before I start with the new stuff) but by plunging into the present process and sticking with it.

I also mentioned Mamta didi – a one woman army with the confidence and audacity to change the world. I must go there again someday. I miss you Saroj da, Nitin, Vikas, Bharat – and I feel sad that I have not kept in touch. I miss Lucky Dhaba. I miss the Papdi Chaat at Chaibasa. I miss my journey’s on rickety buses with Sudoku puzzles for company.

I recently read about the Less is More school of thought here. The article is somewhat half-baked though – not something I expect of Seth Godin. There was an importance difference in Jharkhand though – there was less to do by design and not by choice.

But if you really want to know what it is like – leave everything and elope to some distant village – maybe to work with a grassroots NGO. You will exhibit withdrawal symptoms at first but the trip will be completely worth it.

Technology at the speed of thought.

There times when you think – how cool it would be if a certain electronic gadget existed.

So for example, how cool it would be if I had a phone which could wirelessly send out audio (via bluetooth) and my bluetooth-enabled car stereo would play it for me.

Or how cool it would be if I could make VoIP calls (such as through Skype/Gizmo) over the high speed internet connection on my phone.

Or how cool it would be if, combining the above two I could listen to millions of internet radio stations in my car

Or HCIWB if I had a transparent non-intrusive display on my windscreen which would display news via RSS feeds, song lyrics and more.

‘Technology @ the speed of Thought’ is a concept that basically says this: Now that the whole world is connected through the internet, a simple Google search will reveal that such technology already exists – either someone somewhere is working on it, or it is ready to go mainstream, or someone has already identified the possible issues with such a technology and those are to be resolved. Thus as you have thought about a certain piece technology there is a very high probability that it exists already. For the first one see here, here and here. Also a cool ad for the Rokr E6 here (just in case you haven’t already)

As you can see some ideas which I had wished for about an year back are already mainstream.

Crystallizing Ideas: Basically there are so many things and ideas you think about/know about/have an intuitive sense of – but it become more tangible when someone says it. Sometimes it gives a framework to your thoughts. Sometimes makes you aware of a connetion between notions which you hadn’t thought of. It brings a clarity which you had failed to achieve. The one I can think of is the cowardice and wisdom wala funda which I had read about in Foucault’s Pendulum and had blogged about it earlier.

Amused Apathy: I have mentioned these: Bombing in Sarojini Nagar, Riots in Gujarat, Earthquake in J&K. Perhaps I should add the death of an IITD professor at IISc. Tragedies happens all the time. So what’s new?

What they often talk about alongside tragedies is Courage – how people put their grief behind and moved on. I often wonder what it really is, especially for the bystanders like you and me: Is is relief – that it didn’t happen to us?, is it apathy – just shrug/nod and go back to work? Or is it some demented sadistic pleasure manifested as mild amusement?

Also see Schadenfreude. Alok Rai – I am fortunate to have been taught by you – I think I learnt this word in your Modern Fiction class. And the Wikipedia entry reminds me – I must do a post on words which have no English equivalent yet represent a significant emotion/feeling – kinda feeds back into the Crystallizing Ideas sub-post. Also highlights the importance of names.

If you actually got down to the end of this post – I must say I am extremely grateful – my fundas are not valued everywhere.

All Ideas are good ideas …

… there are just factors around them which make them worth pursuing or not worth pursuing.

Just a thought I wanted to jot down – will elaborate some more later maybe.

I love Synchronicity

Synchoronicity is the “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events”.

In my understanding (admittedly I am using the definition loosely): Something happens. Then something else happens which reminds you of that earlier occurence either in context or in content, but the two seem completely unrelated.

The most uncanny occurence of synchronicity which I have experienced lately is when I was reading the Satanic Verses, while Bluffmaster was playing on TV in the background. The scene came, where Abhishek Bachchan learns that he is going to die, and Boman Irani is trying to tell him that he should live his life to the fullest in the short time he has. He tells him about him being a kid – learning to ride a bicycle – his dad holding the bike coz the kid’s scared that he might fall – but then the father suddenly lets go of the bike without the kid realising and voila! he has learned how to ride a bike. Exactly five minutes later I read this in the Satanic verses (one of the two main characters Saladin Chamcha is reflecting on the suffering that has been caused to him by the things he loved the most. One of them – the dream of a child he never had):

“..In the sylvan secrecy, Saladin saw himself, accompanied by a small boy of about five, whom he was teaching how to ride a bicycle. The boy, wobbling alarmingly at first, made heroic efforts to gain and maintain his balance, with the ferocity of one who wished his father to be proud of him. The dream-Chamcha ran along behind the imagined son, holding the bike upright by gripping the parcelrack over the rear wheel. Then he released it and the boy (not knowing himself to be unsupported) kept going: balance came like a gift of flight, and the two of them were gliding down the avenue, Chamcha running, the boy pedalling harder and harder. ‘You did it!’ Saladin rejoiced, and the equally elated child shouted back: ‘Look at me! See how quickly I learned! Aren’t you pleased with me? Aren’t you pleased?’ It was a dream to weep at; for when he awoke there was no bicycle and no child.”

The thing about synchronicity is that a) It’s thrilling – the fact that something like it happened is mysterious and exciting b) It often makes you think about things a little more deeply – often shedding new light on what you knew or believed.

A couple of days back I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about what leads to success. His point was that talent is inherent – It is genetic and thus you can never really compete with a person in areas where he or she is born talented. Also, he said a lot of people end up picking the wrong domain and thus end up as failures.

The next day this nugget came in through my RSS feeds. Guy Kawasaki redirects us to this piece, which everyone must read. Guy sums it up as:

The article postulates that people have two kinds of mindsets: growth or fixed. People with the growth mindset view life as a series of challenges and opportunities for improving. People with a fixed mindset believe that they are “set” as either good or bad. The issue is that the good ones believe they don’t have to work hard, and the bad ones believe that working hard won’t change anything.

Dr. Dweck calls the fixed mindset the performance mindset – where someone who has to be “officially good” at something – often plays safe – as he can’t  be seen as bad, and also fails to work on complex things where some initial hard work is needed (as he is already supposed to be good at it).

So at the end of the day it is not so much about why inherently talented people succeed, but about why some talented people DON’T succeed – and that is where the balance of power is shifted. Thus the argument I would give back to my friend is that a growth mindset person can often overcome a talented but fixed mindset person.

Unfortunately – I think I belong to the latter. I am too embarrassed to be seen as “bad” at something – which has resulted in me not doing so many things – one of my biggest regrets is Sports. Another recent example is Salsa. I joined Salsa classes more than an year back but I still suck at it. Part of which can be attributed to the fact that I have been called a good dancer so many times now that it has now become an inherent belief. (Sumedha Garg where are you? I need you to talk me down a bit). Perhaps all along when I have been learning Salsa – I have basically believed that I am inherently good and all other are largely suckers.

Damn! I need a growth mindset. Pronto. And I have a lot of work to do to get there.

Old Whine on New Bloggle

(I am allowed the use of imaginary words as and when befitting. See blog URL)

Remember how I pledged to get my drafts out faster than I can write new ones? Well that hasn’t happened as yet, but I keep trying. Atleast I am blogging more regularly (T~30 days) than I did (T~300 days). So another strategy is to blog multiple items together as against blog each one separately. I have picked 2 for this one which were still lying around in my Blogger account – completely unrelated, the only denominator is that unka number pehle aa gaya, and I had something written down already.

1. The Problem with Sony

Sometime back I attended a Group Discussion at an ad firm to help support a pitch they were making to Sony, for their forthcoming MP3 player launch in India. Obviously, a lot of comparisons were made between the iPod and a Sony MP3 player. The thing is I had nothing good to say about Sony MP3 players. First off there were too many of them – several undifferentiated, tacky, yet expensive models, preventing any one from becoming big. Second, what I hated most was how late they were in endorsing mp3, meanwhile continuing to stuff down prorietary ATRAC3 down our throats. As a result, the hallowed Walkman is now dead (except perhaps the brand being reinvented with Sony Ericsson mobile phones.)

Then I thought, did something go wrong with Sony? I mean the Walkman, the PS, the PS2, most things Sony have been great products to use and irresistible to own. When did they start going wrong and why?

And I realised that they had taken their copy protection, anti piracy antics a bit too far. One of the key strategies which Sony adopts to achieve this is by create proprietary formats around their products. While this makes a lot of economic sense to them, several these eventually gets phased out, but nor before customers have spent a lot of money on the trusted Sony brand.
There is the MD, rendered obsolete by the death of line-in recording of audio. There is the UMD, especially UMD movies, only playable on the PSP – which has no TV Out, plus it is a closed format so that no one can put their movie collection on their PSP (alternative being an obscenely expensive 2gb Mem Stick Duo). (Aside: I recently learnt that now you can buy ready to plug and play PSP ISOs from Palika on a 2 gb mem stick for 2.5k – as long as you have firmware 2.71)

Now stepping back for a few bird’s eye view thoughts. You’d say this debate on proprietary formats is a much larger one, and Sony alone can’t be blamed. Why – even the iPOD uses a proprietary AAC format. Well, agreed that it does, but it never prevented you from playing MP3s, from day one. Infact it even allows you to burn a CD from the AACs, and then who is stopping you from converting it back to MP3? In the whole piracy debate (which by the way is a long one, so I shall not get into it in this post), I think Apple is one company which has struck the right balance. It has built in a set of filters which would deter most, while vella people looking for a workaround – like me – can do what they want, which they would have done or tried anyway with any other format. Plus, it addresses important gaps – so, for example, the iPOD video has a TV Out. Stopping Piracy does not mean strangling usability. And in my view, it is very often the Sony experience which can become limiting. I shall leave it at that right now.

2. Smoking – Risk Death for the Life
As I said, two completely unrelated posts :). Smoking. At one point in time, one of my favorite topics. It used to be a pet hate. I have lived through an annoyed dad , embarassed but relenting friends (Me: Yaar, meri gaadi main smoke mat karo), amused women (Me: You smoke? I think it is disgusting!), shocked/angry strangers (Me: This is a public place sir, can you please not smoke?), the works.
Not so much anymore. I am still a non-smoker but over the years I have come to accept it, thanks to most of my friends being smokers. I can now survive living in a passive smoking cloud. I have had a pseudo-cool-smoker phase when after I had had exactly one puff of ganja in Goa, I came up with the very pretentious “I only smoke marijuana!”, which I used to say as if it was the most original thing in the world :)). I have also had some of my demented mental states where I have smoked a whole cigarette or two.

Anyway, this is not about smoking or why I hate it, its me ruminating upon smoking as a social phenomena. So the top-x format again (whenever you are struggling to write coherent prose/ running short of time, it is your best way out):
1. A person and his/her cigarette is a self contained system. Ever been to a coffee shop or restaurant all by yourself? Personally, I get conscious and resort to reading a book/playing with my cellphone/acting like I am expecting someone to seem occupied. Now picture the another person but with a smoke. They never seem out of place, on the other hand they seem rather distuinguished and content.
2. Smoking is a very effective means of social bonding. ‘Got a light?/Got a smoke?’ This is probably one of the most commonplace bonding call s between smokers. And, as far as I have seen it works really well.

Also, (I can’t remember much of it now) Malcolm Gladwell has done some good analysis of the Smoking phenomena in his book ‘The Tipping Point’. (Aside: By the way, Malcolm Gladwell seems a lot less impressive after you have read Freakonomics – both books have parts where they analyse why crime fell in New York in the Nineties, and boy how wrong Gladwell is – typical case of confusing correlation with causation).

Chinese Whispers

I am sure all of us have played the game of Chinese Whispers at some point in our life. You sit in a circle, whisper something into the ear of the person sitting next to you, who passes it on to the next person and so on so forth, till it is revealed, and sounds nothing like what you said originally. So “I am a popstar” may become “Wondrous monster” or something equally inane.

The game is a lot of fun, but is also a potent allegory on communication in real life.

Think about it. Aren’t we are always playing Chinese Whispers?

We use a tool called Language to communicate with each other and ourselves. Yet, my understanding and usage of Language would be subtly different from someone else’s even though we use the same Language – creating the delta of communication.

In real life, Chinese Whispers is manifested on multiple levels. At the micro level I can think of two. The most basic and trivial is limited to single words. As an example, consider the use of the word ‘smart’. As a kid, I thought ‘smart’ was a synonym for good looking as against intelligent. And I think a lot of us Indians still think that way. So later when I did realise what the real meaning of the word was (initiated by the amused smiles of people who knew the correct usage), there were some teething troubles in terms realigning the semantics of the word in my head. However, at this level it is easy to resolve as it is a single word. The second level is about thoughts expressed via a combination of words. A couple of (gender-biased because I can’t come up with any other right now) examples, think of phrases like “Can I have a cup of coffee”, or “Where is this relationship going?”.

However, the most potent manifestation of this effect is at the macro level, when the deltas get compounded exactly the way it happens in the game. As an example, this whole Chinese Whispers thing came to me because of the following incident: my project manager at my previous company told a colleague of mine about something that I had said. Somehow this colleague mentioned it me, and though I don’t remember what it was, I remember saying something like “When did I say this?”, or even if I had I definitely didn’t mean it that way. But whatever I would say or do now, would not change the understanding which my manager has or this colleague has of my words. Whose fault is it? No one’s.

Look at the number of agents which compound the delta, not just in this case, but also in general,
1. Multiple agents of communication (i.e. multiple people). Error introduced when the words were understood and when the words were retold
2. Memory – one of man’s biggest enemies. You say past is constant. No. Past changes because memory is fragile. I don’t remember what I said two months back to any one person. That person, remembers ‘something’ that I said, but not the whole.
3. Fiction – one of man’s biggest indulgences. Who wants to boring? All of has the tendency to overstate or understate facts. Fill in holes where facts fail us. Some of us create entirely fictional accounts of other person’s lives just to entertain (I am extremely guilty of this – and I have seemed to pass on this habit to some of my friends – Amarjeet Kumar are you listening? – and now the joke’s on me).

Thus we live in a world busy whispering the Chinese way and can do nothing about it.

Post Script
A couple of interesting things

1.

2.
In the movie Before Sunrise (Repeat Quotient:10) , there is the following exchange between Julie Delphi(Céline) and Ethan Hawke (Jesse)
Céline: Have you ever heard that as couples get older, they lose their ability to hear each other?
Jesse: No.
Céline: Well, supposedly, men lose the ability to hear higher-pitched sounds, and women eventually lose hearing in the low end. I guess they sort of nullify each other, or something.
Jesse: I guess. Nature’s way of allowing couples to grow old together without killing each other.

Let it go

This one is about this random fatta I had come up with sometime back, which I will unleash right here, right now. I have a feeling I am going to read this after some time and laugh at myself.

Diversion: Two Things
But before that, two things. First I think the content organisation on my posts is terrible. No titles or images to break the flow and make it more readable. All my posts look like a keede-makode-crawling all over. Am writing this, just to remind me of the same. I will try a few things with every post. This one for example has titles.

Second thing – a technology question. Can one blog through SMS? I was driving to Delhi, stuck in a traffic jam averaging speeds of 4kmph (as is rule these days), my mind wandering all over the place, when I decided that the fatta, which I am going to reveal shortly, is worth blogging about. But I didn’t want to wait till I got back home (yes, Blogging is that addictive). How cool would it be if I could blog right there in the middle of the traffic through my phone?

There are tools which exist which let you blog if you have GPRS enabled on your phone (Cool Bhartiya start-up called Link’n’Surf, which, by the way, lets you do a lot more than just post to blogs), and my techie-Bhaai (tB) pointed out another tool to me which he used on his (ahem ahem) O2 XDA (Obviously, I am looking for a lesser-mortal enabler tool). tB tells me it’s possible, so I will just wait for someone to make it.

The Fatta
Now the Fatta. Turn away.

No? Well okay here goes.

Whenever I am feeling sad, depressed or just plain irritated – it often seems like there are tens of reasons which are contributing to that state of mind, and I can never quite get around it sometimes. I have realised over time that, in truth every time, there is just one overriding reason. Always one. All other reasons are extraneous and have been dug up around that one reason. The first issue is often that I fail to acknowledge or accept it. It seems so trivial and inane (say a stranger making a stray comment, which really hit me at the time), or something so uncharacteristic of myself (the character which I have in my head), I keep pushing it down and try to deal with the more actionable extraneous reasons to solve the problem. The other issue is that even if I know what the reason is, it is impossible to resolve, contributing further to my chagrin.

What do I do? I let go. It doesnt work all the time, but I have been trying. Sometimes it is a lot more difficult to be honest to myself. Sometimes it just works if you make fun yourself out loud. But I have to give it a shot. Then there are the ones I can’t deal with – the real annoying ones which leave me with regret and nothing more. I file them away to worry about later – most fade away, others just become easier to deal with. Filing away sounds pretty difficult yeah? I thought so too. A long time back I had read Gone with the Wind, and Scarlett O’ Hara kept using this phrase “I shan’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow”. I always thought that it really was just a meaningless statement – after all, how can you think about thoughts another day – they will come to you as and when they want. But it’s true – you really just have to try. I Googled to get the exact phrase, and somewhere someone had used the ‘Scarlett O’ Hara syndrome’ to refer to procastination. Recognise that this is the exact opposite of that. You file away hindering thoughts for later, so that you can deal with the important task at hand now.

Aside 1
I had written the above Fatta entirely in Second Person first. I decided to rewrite some of it in First Person. Took a lot more effort. Looking within is more difficult than looking without.

Aside 2
Guess this post would have been a *bit* long for blogging over SMS.