Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Confessions of innocent minds

It’s something I’m so sure about. Well, almost. The last t thing I do look like is a six feet tall wooden box with netted windows on its two opposite sides, and a supposedly holy soul that has knowledge over right and wrong residing inside it. Agreed that my ears are huge, but not as big as small, netted windows. But people, quite a few of them in the last month, came up to me and made me wonder whether I really look like a confession box. And I kindly forgive them without even asking to say five Hail Marys. Thinking back, I see that it’s been happening with me for years and years, and I can’t remember ever since. May be, I just had an overdose of it in the last few weeks.

They tell me things I never wanted to know, without being asked to. I’m not talking about people who are friends, and may want to excrete the disintegrated thoughts in their heads once in a while, and use my big ears for a comfortable commode. They make me feel wanted, and when they look relieved I would be stinking with pride. That much silly a person is what I’m. But here I wasn’t referring to them, but people, whom I never have met before, and won’t ever meet again. Like a person, who stands in front of you in a queue, or stands next to you in a bus stop, or the auto-rickshaw driver, or the bus conductor. And these people don’t leave me with a feeling of silly pride, but more of wonderment and an unwanted burden of knowledge.

May be this is happening to not just me, but to you too, and to everyone else. I wanted to know. I smile at the fellow, who’s waiting for the elevator to come down, and tell him that the beef masala in Indian Coffee house is the best. He didn’t smile back like I would have done hearing something of that sort; and with a slightly bewildered look on his otherwise blank and bandaged face, he tells me that Dr. Venu’s consulting room is on the ground floor itself. I should have replied him that it is raining in Cheerapunjee, but I didn’t. I don’t even tell him that I don’t want to know where Dr. Venu sits to consult, and starts to climb up the stairs, thinking why I can’t respond the way that fellow did when someone tells me beef or potato in someplace is the best. The next day, I learn from the board that lists the entire faculty in the hospital that this Dr. Venu is the consultant psychiatrist. So, that must be it! All these people who tells me things are freaks. Or at least, I should think that they are.

Granted that there are more crazy people in this world than anybody would want. But is it that they recognize one belongs to their religion when they see me? I have every right to disagree; it just can’t be so. If it were so, I would have done the same to them too, right? And I don’t. So the blame naturally would come back to my looks. Everyone knows people generally go by looks, at least in the case of perfect strangers. My good friends tell me that I got looks good enough to make little kids trust in their mothers’ love and cling to it with their good little lives. And to make big girls believe in what their mothers told them about strangers. Anyways, for sure, I don’t look as an easily approachable thing as a trash can. And hear what happens to me!

An auto-rickshaw driver tells me that the Government should bring a rule to make it compulsory for rickshaws to have transparent roofs, so that childish couples stop cuddling together behind his back. He tells me that he has given it a good thought for a good time. I don’t ask him how long he was waiting for the good guy to turn up to expose his brilliant idea. A lift operator tells me that for the last three and a half years he’s going up and down and hasn’t reached anywhere. I smile, trying to look like I understand him, and don’t tell him to quit his job and take a walk. I don’t have the heart to hear that he got a wife and three kids and an ailing mother, and he has to go up and down to run a family. A recently married nurse, with really beautiful eyes and fairly beautiful body, tells me that she should have cut her hair short before the marriage, because she wants to cut her hair short and her husband doesn’t allow. I smile again, trying again to look like that I understand, and don’t ask her to cut off the relationship and hair in one go. The guy who sits next to me in train tells me that he got two TVs at home – one for his parents and one for his grandmother, because they want to watch different serials at the same time – and he doesn’t get to see TV. He doesn’t stop there. He says that he used to watch the serial about Sree Ayyappan’s legend with his grandmother, and he has stopped it because the actor has put on weight over the past year, damaging the image he used to get when praying to Sree Ayyappan. No, he didn’t dump this piece of invaluable information during a conversation. It was a stimulus, not a response; and the response he got was a smile that would look more like dumb than understanding. He told me all these, just like that, when I was listening to Mr. Enderby’s belchs, burps and farts.

When I come to think of it, books are just like these people. They tell you same or similar things when you are least suspecting. But there’s this big factor of choice, to make a difference. As for Mr. Enterby, Anthony Burgess wrote the story in four small volumes. And with my kind of luck I find the second volume first. I wait for a couple of months without opening the second volume, and find the third one– on which the blurb says it’s the last of the Enderby trilogy. Then two or three more months later I see the fourth volume, which the author had no plans to write when he published the third one. And beside that fourth volume I find the spanking new edition of Complete Enderby with all the four volumes in one, and would cost me less than the price of four books together. Just to substantiate my long wait for the first volume, I pick up the fourth volume and choose to give it a chance till I get hold of the first volume. And about a year after I picked up the second volume, I find a 1969 edition, which claims to be the Complete Enderby with only the first two volumes in one. Well, a classic example of how does 20th century literature, or at least the blurbs on those books, look anachronic today. But like I said, there’s this big factor of choice, to make a difference. I waited for a year, patiently, to hear the belchs, burps and farts of Mr. Enderby, and he will lock up his gas factory on my wish, if I bothered to close the book and look out through the window. May be, that’s the reason why I happily pay for the book, and deter to show any gratitude when I get the same or similar things from people for free.

I haven’t told you anything yet. On a ten minutes bus ride, the guy sits next to me says that he’s recently returned from U.S. of A., and has no plans to go back. He tells me that he’s researching on the activities of black powers and devil worshippers in India - who work with the help from their headquarters in America. He tells me about the Goat of Mendes, and the Intellectual Decompression Chamber. He tells me that they spread their messages through advertisements of consumer goods. He tells me that every meaningless headline in any advertisement is a Satanic message smartly hidden, and will decipher itself in our subconscious mind. I resort to chance, and my stop arrives. On another bus ride, a longer one of about two hours this time, the guy sits next to me says he built a two-story, 5,000 sq. ft. house about 20 years back with just Rs. 60,000. He tells me that he’s a retired physics professor and was wise to get Laurie Baker’s student to design and build his house. He says if everyone in Kerala were as wise as him, the sand prices wouldn’t have reached today’s Rs. 7,000 for a truckload from Rs. 150 that was the price 20 years back. He tells me if everyone has adopted Laurie Baker’s methods in construction, there would have been still sand left in Kerala’s riverbeds; and it’s this sand stealing that lowered the groundwater platform making our rivers and wells go dry. I converse with him without a choice with monosyllable sentences for two hours. I didn’t even tell him that it’s also a wise idea to dig one’s own grave.

I told you about just five or six people. And I met about a hundred of them in the last 3-4 weeks. As I’m writing this piece, I dream of a beautiful world where every single one of them were a computer literate, and had Internet access, and ran their own blogs to write about the things they want to talk about. On a second thought, I think it’s better the way as it is. If that were the situation, each one of them would have asked me to read their blogs instead, making me write down a hundred URLs. And I wouldn’t have been left with anything to write about in my blog.

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At Tue Apr 17, 05:13:00 pm, Blogger Té la mà Maria said...

He visits the iconoclast and irreverent blog
http: // telamamaria.blogspot.com in Reus (Spain)

Thank you, you will not repent.

I have visited yours and I have liked very much

At Fri Apr 20, 03:12:00 pm, Blogger Me said...

Jubin, did anybody tell you you're awesome?! I feel like opening up my heart to you right now to tell you about my asshole-ish boss and my new venture and my birthday gifts and salman & katrina on the last episode of KBC... But i'll spare you for fear of another such post! lol!

At Sat Apr 21, 01:11:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did he ask you about the beef masala?
Ennittu kidannu dialog adikkunnu...
Who knows you will not give a lecture on beef masala if he responded positively! oru parinata prajnan!!! Puchichu thalliyirikkunnu
He knows better how to handle this situation and displayed potential that you lack.

At Sat Apr 21, 03:16:00 pm, Blogger Jubin George said...

tela la ma maria: Thank you for visiting my blog.

Devanshi: None of these strangers did! If anyone had, I would have opened up my filthy heart to them on that instant! :p

Anony: Exactly what I was telling myself while climbing up the stairs! But listen, I will tell you no matter what! The beef masala in Indian Coffee House is 'THE' BEST. I have been to about 20 of their restaurants, from kasargod to thiruvananthapuram. (They have about 70 or more) And it tastes the same in every single place! So does their beetroot stuffing in Masala Dosas, and Beef Omlets, and of course their stale coffee! Guess I should write a post on ICH, or else no one would listen... ha ha ha ha ha hahhh...

At Sun Apr 22, 03:35:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

u r either a good writer or a very bad one... i don't know. i read ur post twice. first a couple days before. and wat i felt den was that u r just boasting about ur supernatural powers to make strangers talk to u. may be i was rite... i dont know... if that's the case u r not worth reading. but wat i feel now is different... u made the mistake of using the word confession... it makes the reader think that u r calling all those ppl sinners... nd ur language is sarcastic, even about writing a blog...

ur post was in mind for some reason for two days... and somehow i started to see the connection you were trying to make between books and people... people and their uncontrollable urge to talk... the urge to talk and the urge to write, a blog or a book... thinking of it in that way it makes a complete cycle... that the need to talk is equally strong as the urge to listen... the connection between writing and reading... and how it is incomplete without each other... may be i'm reading too much between the lines... i dont know whether that's what u wanted to say... just thought of telling u... anyways u claim to be one who listens to nonsense... n i guess u really like doing so... bcos if strangers really do talk to u out of the blue it's only becos they felt that assurance... by ur body language or expressions... so, i suggest you to be grateful to them, just like you are willing to pay for a book... u said it's the choice u have that make the difference... u could have told them to shut up... just like u close a book...choice is just a matter of chance... or chance is the sum of many choices... either way there's not much difference... i talked too much. thank you :-)

At Sun Apr 22, 11:25:00 am, Blogger Jubin George said...

anonymous: Are you the same anonymous, who commented earlier? Don’t think so. :)

It's not just you, most of the people (there aren't many) who happened to read it got the first impression you got. Some of them were almost offended, and have told me so. I tried to clarify, and I guess, they thought that I'm being diplomatic. Well, I would say what I really wanted to tell is a mix of both of your impressions. Boasting? Well, it's a fact that I'm a proud one, almost to the extent of being a conceited individual. And talking about something I'm proud of can sure be interpreted as boasting. Immodest would be rather fitting. I really don't think it's a sin to be proud, unlike the Church, which believes it's a cardinal sin. And for sure, I didn't want to tell that it's a supernatural power. I had thought twice about using the word confessions too, and I didn't count them as sinners. That's why I titled it as confessions of innocent minds. And I think the statement, 'I kindly forgive them without even asking to say five Hail Marys', was quite misleading. I was trying to make fun of being forgiven for the cost of five Hail Marys – penance is not for the ‘sin’ of confessing but for the confessed ‘sins’. Because I think it's not any more of worth than running around the church five times, only more convenient and less humiliating.

The thought of this post was actually got from the signature line my brother used to keep in his mails for a while. It read, ‘If wisdom can be acquired, not by reading books, but of Men’. And we had a talk on that some time back. I argued, books and Men are same in effect, and it's up to you to learn from them. I'll put it in one of my favourite lines: Nothing can be taught, and everything can be learnt. It doesn't mean that teaching and learning can't go together, but only that teaching doesn't have the quality to be alone, but learning has. So I agree to you on the point that the urge to talk/listen, write/read can be equally strong. Only difference I have is that they need not compliment each other all the time. That the receiver has the upper hand, all the time - to accept or reject, when it’s offered, and to take or leave, otherwise. Complimenting each other will only be an ideal, and thus rare, situation. It's not a new idea as such, it's an old idea, which now is gaining popularity, and states that 'the Author is dead'. And this upper hand of the receiver also put that great responsibility to understand into the receiver’s hands, along with his/her right to evaluate what’s given or available to acquire. If one is a good writer/speaker it makes the job easier for the reader/listener, and thus easier to sell. If one is bad in that job, he/she also runs the risk of being never understood, or worse misunderstood; either of them is a great punishment for that mistake. And If this not understanding/misunderstanding is caused by the reader's lack of minimum effort, it is pure injustice. Obviously, it’s pretty difficult to draw the line. Still the fact remains that both the author and reader have their own individual responsibilities.

Well, if it was me who gave those strangers the assurance, isn't it a price I have already paid? Just like that for a book. I liked your equation about chance and choice. That was a really interesting way of looking at it. At least, I agree that we get to make a choice only when granted with the chance. Even then we are given the choice of taking that chance or not. Which is more or less the same thing you said, or what I could understand of it.

Thank you very much for reading, rereading, and commenting. You are most welcome to talk more :) I'm not as good a writer as I would want to be; and as a reader you have done that extra effort of trying to understand, when I had failed to express it any clearer. And I'm well aware that I can't 'demand' that from anyone. :)


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