Friday, 20 January 2017

Why you should Judge a Book by its Cover

By my estimation I have reached the half way point of my life. I have been betrayed by people who have been my friends for years. I have seen people change so much that they can barely be said to be the same person (save and except that their physical characteristics remain the same.)
It takes years to really know someone, and even then you will most likely not truly understand them. I am being reminded of a dialogue in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. I’m paraphrasing the same here -
“What’s the matter with you? Why such talk—over nothing at all? People’s faces and first impressions don’t mean a thing.”
Ayn Rand Fountainhead Judge Book by Cover“That, my dear, is one of our greatest common fallacies. There’s nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we’re not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. Have you ever thought about the style of a soul? … I think, that every human soul has a style of its own. Its one basic theme. You’ll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative thing in that living creature. Years of studying a man won’t show it to you. His face will. You’d have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else.”
“That sounds fantastic. And unfair, if true. It would leave people naked before you.”
“It’s worse than that. It also leaves you naked before them.”
The truth is, we do judge people by first impressions. To my female readers, I think you will agree that you avoid men who look, for lack of a better word – “rapist-like”.  On the other hand, we sometimes decide to give people, who look pleasant, the benefit of the doubt.
In the end, your first instinct is usually right and you tend to focus on those few rare instances where you by chance were wrong and conclude that’s it is wrong to judge too quickly. I agree it’s not ideal but it is a great time saving and labour-saving device, and only mildly less accurate.
So go out there, and trust your instinct, and pay attention to first impressions. You may find that your first instinct is usually right, and all the steps you painstakingly take to confirm your suspicions has been a waste of your time.


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Accepting Mediocrity

Since we were in school, we were told to follow our dreams. But this comes with unexpressed caveats. Your dream can be a doctor or astronaut, but not to be a sweeper or waiter. Here lies the grand flaw.
Its true that society’s progress depends on everyone aspiring higher, but lets keep in mind Edgar Allen Poe’s words - “I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.”
A dialogue from the movie Lakshya can also be referred to here:
Romi's Dad – “Tum jo bhi karo achha karo. Agar scientist bano toh achhe scientist bano. Agar ghaas kaatne wale bano toh achha ghaas kaatne wale bano. Warna kya faayda?”
(Translation: Whatever you do, you must do it well. If you become a scientist, become a good scientist. If you become a grass-cutter, become a good grass-cutter. Otherwise what's the point?)
I would go one step further. It is not important that you even be the best at what you do. It is not even necessary that you do something. If you are happy dreaming your life away, then do it. After all, Y.O.L.O. and you should live the way you want to without being influenced by others.
Happiness is a choice. As long as you have your health, you can get happiness too.
I must differ from Friedrich Nietzsche as I believe that the happiness which is the fruit of labour is merely a different kind of happiness, but not necessarily, sweeter. We must stop pressurizing little children and make them all believe that they all will be President some day. On the contrary we must teach them that success is good, but not always necessary to attain happiness.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

How Tradesmen Ruined the Sangam in Name of "Religion"

Triveni Sangam Allahabad
Triveni Sangam, Allahabad
I went to Allahabad for work recently, where I decided to go see Triveni Sangam, where three rivers meet -  Ganga, Yamuna — and the invisible Saraswati River.
First of all, the boatmen charge a bomb to go there. Make sure you bargain and not pay over Rs. 450/- if you are alone (Initially, they quoted Rs. 1250/-!). The boat ride itself is pleasant, but the duration is exaggerated. It takes only about 20 to 25 minutes one way and they tell you it takes one hour.
When you reach Triveni Sangam, you are made to sit before an eternally smiling Pandit, who will have you believe he works for God, when he only works for the ‘Gandhis’ in your pocket. He’ll perform the puja and make you also pay for coconut used in the puja. Although, he says that ayment is optional and we can give whatever amount we choose, that is absolutely a lie. If you give a 50 rupee note, he will say ‘50 mein kya hota hai!?’and he will force you to pay at least 200! Please refrain from sitting with these pretend pundits.
The actual difference in the water colour is something which isn’t that evident. Perhaps it can only be seen in certain light at certain time. The Saraswati river is supposed to be invisible and it is believed to be flowing under these two rivers.

The only thing you will see for certain are people getting naked and bathing in the water to wash their sins, without even repenting them and tradesmen and “god-men” trying to exploit them... If you are religious, do go to the Sangam, but try to ignore all the things people trying to corrupt your religion. I think the State Government should regulate the fare charges and also the sums charged by the so-called “Pandits”. If this is done, the seren location will no doubt, become far more enjoyable.