Saturday, January 19, 2008

Like moths to a flame: A tribute to human stupidity

Adam Smith was wrong. Perhaps the thought was born of a long day experimenting with substances of questionable legality. The thought which single handedly gave raise to modern economics as we know it. Perhaps dear Mr. Smith was overcome by a sudden and overpowering idealistic fervour when he said, "Humans are rational beings". That was quite a grand statement. Though deep down every one of his peers knew that reality was to the contrary, accepting that humans were rational was quite flattering. We were after all at the pinnacle of evolution able to mould the environment to suit our needs. It was only rational to state that humans, as a species, were rational beings. As it spread, word became common sense, common sense became fact and fact became collective wisdom. And thus began the downward spiral.

One could attribute that stumble to the timing. During the days of Mr. Smith, the world was a much smaller place. The people moved in their own circles and perhaps Mr. Smith moved in circles in which a strict rigour of language was imposed on any discussion. Perhaps the wisdom of the day was that if you didn't have anything smart to say, you said nothing at all. This could have contributed to the delusion of rationality among humans. Had dear Mr. Smith lived to see the day when the world of people exploded to include the whole globe, the day on which dawned the Great Leveler, the day foreshadowed by the arrival of the Eternal September, would things have been different? Would the great thinker have received a shot of sobering reality to quell his idealistic fervour? We might never know. But we all were present on that day. The day the internet arrived.

The internet has had a strange effect on all of humanity. It and it alone has the uncanny ability to bring the idiots of this world out of the woodwork. Perhaps this is due to the inherent anonymity of the internet. Perhaps this is due to the enormous ego kick received by having your thoughts read by potentially millions. Even though all these are important factors, I believe the main cause for the sheer concentration of idiots on the net is because of a lack of a facility to name and shame stupidity. In the real world, if a person exhibits acute stupidity and thick-headedness, the word spreads and fast. Their name is instantly associated with stupidity and hence, their words ignored. But what is a name on the internet? Names can be changed to anything we choose in an instant and hence completely hide our stupidity under a new name.

Though in the real world the idiots are relegated to the margins, on the internet, theirs' is the loudest voice. The voice that drowns out all semblance of intellect. As in the case of religious nut-jobs. I'm sure every religion out there has their fair share of nut-jobs, but on the internet, it is their voices that are the most frequent and prominent giving all religions a bad name. Visit any forum, any comment thread, any chat room and it is stupidity that prevails. If you don't believe me, visit YouTube, that ever-growing font of human stupidity. They are drawn to it like demented moths to a flame. After all this, I must admit. I have been guilty of gross stupidity on the internet. But I, like perhaps you too, can rest assured. We are not alone. There are bigger and louder idiots out there.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Delhi Gastronomie and an in-flight radio

Weekends can be quite boring. Actually, very would be the correct term. And to make things more annoying, come Friday, everyone seems to be asking what my plans for the weekend were. As though they had made really fun plans. Perhaps, one day I must dare them to reveal their plans or stop with the questions. You can never really avoid weekends, they seem to keep coming every five days with amazing regularity. Apparently it has been doing so for several millennia now. There you have it, I'm trapped in this infinite continuum.

Break this continuum, I must. So, to Delhi I head. The only respite for the non-philistines among us within a radius of a 100 kilometres of my home. My head was filled with choice curses from atleast five different languages to heap on the Bluelines and their God forsaken drivers and conductors as I stepped into the home of a good friend, Haider Faraz, who henceforth shall be referred to as Zebi. And so, we set out into the night to sample the gastronomic delights offered by this brilliant city.

Alaknanda was not far from Hauz Khas where Zebi stays. We land at this little open air restaurant called Qureshi. This is the place to eat on those cold winter nights. I had been here before and I continue to be drawn to this place. The one among many excellent reasons being their chicken tikka. Ah! their chicken tikka. This little masterpiece will not just satisfy the most demanding of taste-buds, it will leave them salivating for more. My mouth waters just remembering that sinful delight. After the tikka was more happiness. The mutton khorma, the tangdi kebab and I could go on. But, I must stop. I could dehydrate myself from my mouth watering so much. Zebi, to me, will always be the guy who introduced me to the delights of Qureshi. To him, I am eternally grateful. As the old saying goes, "The shortest way to a man's heart is through the stomach". And, Qureshi has won my heart completely.

Satiated by the steaming plate of chicken tikka on that sinfully cold night, we enjoyed the ride back to Hauz Khas on an empty DTC bus happily eating a completely frozen ice-cream. As we stepped into the chillout lounge, Zebi's place that is, it was time for some blissful relaxation. Thanks to his computer being in a slightly worse condition than working, we surrendered to the charms of the FM radio stations of New Delhi. Zebi, the aspiring Accessory Designer, has turned his room into quite the trippy chillout lounge with a lamp of wicker. The little spots of light engulf the dark room giving it the ambiance of a space ship travelling a light-speed as shown in the cartoons. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking... Thus came a tiny voice over.

As we travelled from station to station, we came across this station playing Carnatic classical. The the sweet 15 minutes spent tripping on the notes of Carnatic classical, Zebi and me welcomed the dawn of the winter morning sun. As I left for Noida at 9am the next day, back to dreary old work in a dreary old town, the taste of the tikka still lingered on my mind. I shall be back soon, I told myself, hungry for more.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I hadn't seen 7:30 in the morning since July. I still haven't. The fog was impenetrable. For the first time in many months, I woke up before 10am. But, I must say, Just Like You Imagined by the Nine Inch Nails remains unmatched as a wake up call in the cold foggy mornings of the Northern winter.

As I walked the lonely way to work at the early hour of eight in the morning, I felt different. I was something I hadn't done, ever. For the first time in as many months, I had breakfast. It later gave me an upset stomach. On the other hand, it was a brilliant time to come to work. There wasn't a soul in sight. I experienced my work place as I never had before. The complete silence, a little eerie at first, put me completely at ease. I thought of everything but the work, as I slipped on my headphones, letting the tunes from radio flow through me.

The amazed looks from my colleagues was what was most amusing. They saw me as if a ghost, while one even ventured enough to ask me whether I had actually left for the night the previous day. I had come to work a full four hours before my usual time. It was soon time for lunch, but I wasn't in the least bit hungry. But lunch wasn't what I looked forward to. It was the 15 minutes I spent with my friends after lunch that I looked forward to. The customary cigarette after a full lunch, the time spent with friends was for me a path to contentment. For those fifteen minutes in the afternoon, I am without a care in the world.

After lunch, I returned to my desk and for a comfortable hour I slept listening to music. As the clock ticked seven in the evening, it was time to leave for home. I knew that the evening would be a pleasant experience. Perhaps, I'll do this again someday. Come to work at eight in the morning. But not frequently. Because if I over-indulged, it would stop being the pleasant, comforting experience it was. Besides, I don't want my manager to think I had become the sort to come on time. He might expect me to do this everyday.