Sunday, April 21, 2013

75. Forget apple, try mango instead

For most of us, entering into a conversation is akin to getting into a restaurant without a wallet. Stepping-up and sustaining conversation is even more daunting. Adam and Eve must have encountered such difficulty because they had nobody to talk about. Good for us, else the apple would have long been rotten! Without doubt, the forbidden apple launched us into the world of conversation!      

For Oscar Wilde, weather was the most unimaginative refuge for getting into a conversation. It indeed is but just don't knock it out as yet because nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if weather didn't change once in a while. But one is advised to jump on the drawing-room furniture only if one could hold his own in the conversation. Else, try painting your drawing room 'red' and watch the heat it generates!

If that doesn't suit you, try wearing a  hat instead! I have tried it. Whether I wear it or take it off, either way it has been a conversation piece. But amazing are those guys who can neither initiate a conversation nor can contribute to it and yet hang around! Quite often, such characters nod their way through it. Though it is better than 'nodding off', such irritants stick around to avoid being rejected. But can Madame Tussads wax statues be comforting in any drawing room?

Even Steve Jobs would have agreed that gone are the days that 'apple' could start or sustain a conversation. After frequently flying into the country for over two decades now (and holding a 'apple macbook' now), a friend has struck with a novel idea to push the 'silent lambs' into conversation. Says he, 'to support a flagging conversation bring 'mango' into conversation'. Layers of experience get peeled off in a short span, everybody (at least in India) has something to talk about 'mango'!

Having tried it a few times, mangoes easily trigger a conversation. Try it, it works! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

74. The 'solutionism' of our times

Within hours of its invention a few years ago, the phrase had gone viral with denizens in Bangalore. Like a multi-utility vehicle, its strength lay in its convenient application across situations: those violating traffic rules use it; those short of civic sense use it to excuse themselves; and those teasing girls get away using it. Just say Swalpa Adjust Maadi and you could be cool about your action. It is a Kannada remix for saying 'adjust to the situation'. wherein 'swalpa' means 'a little' and 'maadi' stands for 'do'.

Why would it spread so thick and fast? With 'solutionism' being the new belief or ideology amongst youth, perhaps the idea has been to identify those 'tools' that could offer instant 'solutions' by presuming to be intrinsically creative. For the carefree youth, the world and our relationship to it are puzzles to be solved. Complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty and disagreement are all confused renditions of problems. If one phrase could strike all such puzzles than let that be! And, why not?

Though novel in its approach, Swalpa Adjust Maadi offers a non-contentitious 'fix'. It compromises on the situation by taking a status quo position. It is more about adjustment than transformation, an approach that emerges from a generation mistrustful of government and the state, but enamoured by its own capacity to manage its well-being. A tech-savvy generation which surfs information and searches solutions at the click of the button has only gone by the entrenched notion that 'convenience' and not 'contention' is the solution. In the face of all the array of major problems confronting us, Swalpa Adjust Maadi could indeed help slip past numerous small problems at hand!      

The worrying side of this invention, according to 'Citizens Against the Swalpa Adjust Maadi', is that it helps settle for anything 'less than hundred per cent', justifying the widely held notion that we are as a nation more 'satisfier' than 'maximizer'. Our roads may be clogged; our infrastructure crumbling; our public institutions decaying but we should take pleasure in the small things and be content with it. If Swalpa Adjust Maadi is what the youth find comfort in than those hoping for an Arab Spring in India must go on a long vacation!