Saturday, November 19, 2011

67. Argumentative, no more!

Parents of teenage children unequivocally confirm that 'today's children may be poor communicators but are smart negotiators'. Gone are the days when a kid will take his father's 'no' for going to a 'movie' on its face value. The teenager today will negotiate hard and have his/her say nine-out-of-ten times. So be it, as the power of negotiation gives teenager that extra edge for building a future in a highly competitive market-driven world.

Negotiation is different from being 'argumentative', which most Indians always have been. Arguments are essential for a (un)healthy conversation; for getting across divergent viewpoints and for making one's presence felt. Amartya Sen would have more on it but for convenience sake let it be clear that 'argument' often doesn't lead us anywhere but for satisfying bloated egos of those embroiled in an argument. Good or bad, it is a cultural trait that we have come to live with, perhaps for generations!

Clearly, negotiation is an American trait that we Indians have conveniently adapted or copied. Without doubt, Americans are not only born negotiators but born salesmen too. But the question is: how did they 'sell' the idea of 'negotiation' to us? A social-anthropologist turned psychologist tells me that it comes packaged with fast food and aerated drinks. Art of negotiation gets into you with each bite of a burger and a gulp of coke cements it further.

Try it out if my argument is getting better of you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

66. Owl, by another name

It is said that if you think of them in the evening you are sure to locate a few on your scalp the following morning. The more you pluck them the more these grow till the time comes for them to fall apart like civilizations. Holding them in place is part of the challenge, other being to ensure that the crowning glory is not stacked with 'grey'. Who would want to look old, whatever be the cost of hiding the truth?

So, turning to what the Romans had long perfected - the art of dyeing hair - has been compellingly convenient. Any number of advertisements on coloring packs and conditioners have kept the age-old tradition alive. Coming in several hues, the chemical cocktails on offer have kept the hair coloring industry on an unprecedented growth curve. Currently valued at US $ 20 billion, the industry is growing at an impressive rate of between 10 to 15 per cent.

Considering that wisdom is associated with greying, I wonder why we would rather seem 'young' than 'wise'. Associated with Greek goddess of wisdom Athena, 'owl' is considered to be a symbol of 'wisdom'. So, the trade-off between looking old or being wise is whether or not one would like to be seen as an 'owl'. It is, however, another matter that those who like to see themselves 'young' make an 'ullu' (meaning owl) of themselves by enriching their scalp with undesired chemicals. If you feel offended, blame the 'owl'.

(this blogger has opted for being 'wise' since Jan 1, 2011)