## Tuesday, September 20, 2011

### 64. 2+2 is anything but 4

Even since the phrase `do aur do panch' meaning `2 and 2 can add up to become 5' came into being, there has been a question mark in my mind whether or not 2+2 is anything but 4. Many would wonder if this has anything to do with the mathematics of `addition'. Still others would argue if this is worth any serious consideration. Isn't 2+2=4 a reality?

Yet, 2+2=5 persists in popular memory. No wonder, two movies with this title have been produced during past two decades. Isn't it a verbal expression reflecting how much more can be made out of what is at hand? Using smart street tricks, the rags-to-riches stories are often of those who could imagine beyond the obvious to turn things around in their favour.

One may not agree but it is said that 2+2 could be 0 in the rather abstract world of poetry and music. But let's address the fundamental question: does 2+2 equal 4? My answer is: 2+2 is not 4! If you don't believe me, add 2 drops of water to 2 drops of water. Does 2+2 not become 1? So, 2+2 could be 1. But two cats plus two pieces of sausages add up to remain 2 only.

## Wednesday, September 14, 2011

### 63. New age writers

Parents have no reason to complain! Without any exception, not only are their kids avid readers but prolific writers as well. The entire young generation is becoming what many in the previous generation could only aspire to become - readers as well as writers. Noted writer Sir Francis Bacon had remarked: `reading makes a full man and writing an exact man'.

Yet, parents everywhere are seen complaining about these newly acquired skills of their teenage children. Without doubt, kids have become readers and writers but what they are reading and writing are text messages only. More than half of today's teenagers don't read books - except when the exams are around. In doing so, they are cut off from the civilization of their ancestors. As if the kids care!

It is an unmissable trend of producing civilizational illiterates. According to one survey, kids between the ages of 13 and 20 send and receive an average of 3,000 texts per month. So hard pressed these kids are that they often use both `thumbs' to tap their mobiles. But in doing so these kids are becoming `angootha chhap', a common expression for those who are illiterate - placing thumb impression instead of a signature.

## Wednesday, September 7, 2011

### 62. Ab goli kha...

It surprises me even today how `pinch of salt' could rock the colonial boat! But it did and did so effectively that `salt satyagraha' became synonym with country's independence. Could Gandhiji ever predict the impact of his 240 kilometre walk to Dandi? My guess is as good as yours! Although I would imagine `he didn't'!

Other than shaking the pillars of the Raj, the symbolism of `salt satyagraha' by Gandhiji was much deep-rooted. Pinch of salt was not only used as a potent non-violent tool but was used in building `a community of shared experience'. Salt became the rallying point for even the poorest of the poor, everyone on the social ladder felt attached to it. Salt for once had become the glue of social cohesion!

For Indians, `salt' means `namak' and linked to it are two inseparable expressions - `namak haram' (disloyal) and `namak halal' (loyal). Gandhiji didn't want Indians to be `namak haram' of the British. By erasing salt loyalty from everybody's life, Gandhiji had detached the ruler from the ruled by breaking the unwritten social contract. Independence was gained through the non-violence of `namak'.

The 1857 revolt, in contrast, was violentally crushed because, as I understand it today, the masses had demonstrated `salt disloyalty' which could only invite the wrath of the ruler. `Sarkar, maine aapka namak khaya hai'. And the response could only be: `Ab goli kha'.