Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page
It is a tradition in India to start of any new venture with a happy beginning. So, here I am, blogging on my new weblog on one of my favorite peeves – Mediocrity. Before I even delve into my hatred towards ‘Mediocrity’ as such, let us have a look at the dictionary meaning (courtesy Webster) -Mediocrity – a. the quality or state of being mediocre b: moderate ability or value
I have had the good fortune to meet some of the best people around – best in skill, attitude, talent etc – not necessarily in one package – but then they strive to be the best in what they are/do. In some cases, I have admired them.
However, I have also had the fortune to meet some who were the most ignorant, inarticulate, talentless and loutish people that the world ever saw – and I despised them totally. If they say, sky is the limit – my abhorrence for them touched the sky. Ideally, I would never even stand such people, but certain circumstances (in terms of education, neighbourhood, friends’ friends, job etc) forced me to interact with such on a daily basis.
So, the first question essentially is – What constitutes my definition of mediocrity? Am I looking for fantastic educational/vocational qualifications? Am I looking for certain psychological traits (extrovert, introvert and the hopelessly controversial ambivert etc etc)? Certainly, over the years I could not stand a certain person and I always wondered what I saw in him/her that made me stay away consciously? Lack of ambition, I thought. But heck, no! I never considered that Nepali Gurkha around my colony to be mediocre – he was brilliant in his skill (whether it came to night patrolling or asking Diwali bakshish J ) but was content in that role for the rest of his life. The answer came through many iterations and certain evaluations – drive! A drive to achieve, a drive to excel, a drive to be the best, a drive to give your best shot everytime and last but not the least, a drive to learn more and better – in short, it was more about the person’s mental makeup than anything else.
My problem with mediocrity is not essentially the person as such – but his pursuit of the trivial and tolerance of the third rate. Being satisfied with status quo, blissful ignorance, lack of desire to learn, faking of being a master of a topic and satisfied mingling with the average – that is what turns me off. My essential belief is that not doing/just about doing more than average is what keeps the average down most of the time. I just couldn’t (and still can’t) understand why some people just don’t want to get better? Why are they content on average quality? As one of the ad went sometime back, ‘swalpa adjust maadi saar’ (please adjust sir) – we have got used to adjustment (which translates into average behavior) almost all the time.
Did I try to bring in some change in such people? I did try – but probably they should have been dealt at a much younger age than today. Inertia is a highly misunderstood term – but affects each and every one of us. And when this inertia has been built into your system for a few years – it is going to be a huge effort mentally to get out of this mode of behavior and I guess that is what happened to my try. To round this first weblog off on a new site, I would quote an anonymous author “All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.” The effortless way of not falling into this trap of mediocrity (atleast my method) is to have your close-knit group (family you can’t change, acquaitances definitely can change) consist of ‘non-mediocre’ people and you have hedged off the risk of being mediocre/risk of falling into the trap of being mediocre to a large extent
Amit landed in Delhi after a 3 month trip to Singapore.
Avantika was eagerly awaiting him.
Their affair (or as they say in history books, story dated back) was on for 3 years. They both had passed out of college barely knowing each other. However, in a chance meeting (happened to be a common friend’s birthday party) they happened to hit on each other extremely well and from thereon, their relationship was going only one way – up.
Amit was an architect and Avantika was a fashion designer. The diversity in their professions made their relationship even more spicier and interesting. They both had decided that unless both of them had settled professionally, they would not get married to each other. They stuck to their promise – and their parents now had mutually agreed on their marriage one year hence.
Amit had left for Singapore on an office trip. Since the time of their engagement, they could not keep hands off each other – and 3 months was a long time. When Avantika spotted Amit coming out of the airport – tears of emotion overflowing, she rushed and hugged him – unmindful of the surroundings. Words could not convey their relief – they looked in each other’s eyes and smiled. They quickly went back home in a taxi.
When Avantika closed the door of her empty house, Amit immediately hugged her from behind. She could feel his tremble – tremble, due to separation for what seemed a long time for both of them. She let him rest in that posture for a few minutes. Amit murmured ‘Missed you big time’. Avantika turned around and gave him a wide flashing smile. He captured that moment and immediately hugged her tightly, landing kisses all over her face and body. His kisses were like winter fire, slowly but surely wearing Avantika down. He started feeling the contours of her entire body gradually, sensing the laces, linen and her sweat little-by-little but intently. She too responded to his intense emotion – hugging him tightly and responding to his kisses. Time had no meaning at that moment, neither did the surroundings nor that they were still in the foyer of her place.
They made love.
They were lying on the bed, one on top of each other in their post-lovemaking stupor –which traversed the foyer, drawing room and subsequently the bedroom. Earlier, she had asked him what fruit she represented? He had replied ‘Watermelon of course’. ‘Why?’ ‘Ripe, juicy, edible and a fulfilling treat, that’s why!!’ She had liked the description. She had always liked his descriptions, barring a few of his crazy ones. They had made passionate love for the past hour or so and now were mumbling sweet nothings in each other’s ears.
She looked into his eyes and asked “Tell me, how much you love me?”
Amit gave her a surprised look.
She: I want to know.
He smiled – one of those wicked grins. She knew something crazy was coming up.
He: I love you as much as I love free lunch coupons.
He: Er…ok! I love you as much as Wooster loves Jeeves.
She: C’mon Amit, be serious!! Tellll me!!
He looked into her eyes, her hair all over him and said ‘Beautiful’. He wanted to express his love in terms that she loved the most – literature and music.
He: “As passionately as Howard Roark atop the University hill”
“As detailed as Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings”
“As flowingly as Somerset Maugham”
“As silently as a Shakspearean sonnet”
“As longing as a Wagner’s Opera”
“As much as the center of my life”
“And my dear, as madly and crazily as myself”
She looked into his eyes, smiled and said “You are a damn fool” and proceeded to kiss him. The pressure was perfect and the teasing just about there. A long, soft kiss and mercifully unlike the last one. She was drawn in closer to him – a moment she wanted to last forever.
That was when I started for the United States of America (weird…USA or just US sounds much better!). As part of my job/career, I was bound to visit the US at some point of time (sooner rather than later). Anyways, official formalities done, had reached the airport to check-in. This is where I was struck by US’s fascination for numbers (and I would list down the encounters I had in the past one week).
- Jet Airways check-in asked me for the address I would be staying in the US. I gave them the address. They asked for the zipcode – I told them I don’t remember it and asked them whether they are gonna post me anything (like free vouchers etc. )? They replied back, ‘Sorry sir, but the US authorities require us to fill the zipcode in our system – mandatory’. I mean they had my whole address – why did they need a zipcode (which, by the way is a five-digit number)?
- Passport number – I understand a fetish for this number, it’s mandatory in any country. No complaints.
- SSN Number – a universal number in the US. Even if you wanna register for a walk in the park, you need a SSN. Hotel check-in, purchasing a mobile phone, leasing an apartment, opening a bank account – everywhere and anywhere. The worst part is, they need atleast a month before they can issue a SSN. A ‘month’ – in the seemingly most advanced nation in the world; beats me.
- Credit score – You need a credit card, loan, utility connection, retail purchase card – you need to have a credit score; everything and anything with the financial world in the US is connected to the credit score. ‘You have to build a credit score’ is the most common reply I get when I enquire about any of the financial products. Why should I build a credit score as if I was born just two minutes back? I already have a credit standing somewhere else. I feel, I am just paying for your inefficiency for not able to retreive that information.
Having said that, I can understand the sheer efficiency that one can generate when as a personality you are just confined to four numbers – SSN, Credit Score, Passport number and the Zipcode. Especially, the SSN. And this is where I guess, the logic of numbers and hence efficiency of computerization kicks in. I can imagine a software programmer rubbing his hands in glee if he could identify every person in the US by a primary key (SSN). He can put this SSN in a million other tables as a foreign key and just link any table to the main table (a.SSN=b.SSN) and cull out any information [Whoa! That by the way is the maximum amount of knowledge I have about databases ].
There is a price to pay for efficiency – and I guess I don’t have a choice!
1) I haven’t yet applied for a driving license – unfortunately, they compulsorily require a SSN. So, one month hence – I will be identified not by one but two numbers.
2) India has tried to replicate this system of unique identification with PAN. The reason it failed miserably is primarily because of two reasons – bureaucracy (which essentially means lack of responsibility) and two, a unique number should be issued when a person is born, not when he turns 18, which is when he can replicate his personality multi-fold .
3) I digress but just couldn’t help it – What is it with the fairer sex dressed in red? – All of them look pretty (rather I say…hmm..awesome) . Not that I am complaining – I am only indicating .
4) Will be in the US for some time now. Fingers crossed, 24×7 connectivity might just increase my frequency of blogging.
5) Apart from the usual pics of ‘At Statue of Liberty’, ‘At the White house’, ‘At Times Square’, ‘At Niagara Falls’ etc etc., I do have some specific and unique plans. Will keep you updated on that. And nope, I am not into the usual IT guy cycle (work in US for 2 years – marry someone – come back to the US for sometime (or settle here) – and go back to India to settle) – (what’s wrong with the IT guy cycle – nothing wrong as such, but seems more of a parasitic and generic way of living for me) – been here, done this, hopefully something different next .
6) I know what you are thinking right now – ‘Your P.S should have been another blog!’. Yes, I agree (in the US, you say ‘I appreciate it’ – dude, why should you appreciate me ya?; beats me again!) – but just couldn’t help the digression . The entire ‘Me’ or ‘You’ just reduced to a number – maannnn, strange country !