Dumb and Dumber !

I was a dumb kid. Correction – I am STILL a dumb.. Err.. Kid !!Image

I was always intrigued with life. Well, the feeling would go through states of bafflement, bewilderment and in some days, utter confusion! My brain seemed to continuously process information and look to find answers. This nearly-total lack of a mental filter can cause increased stress. Things find their way to my brain, things that don’t belong there, just as things don’t belong in my lungs, like dust.  Being inquisitive, I would ask lot of questions.. And would often be tagged as being dumb..

“Why do you ask so many dumb questions?” – my friends would say

“Stop it Ari.. Sometimes, you ask really dumb questions.. GO NOW!” – my teachers would say.

Every time I asked a question, my self belief took a beating. During those turbulent days, my pillar of strength was my mother. She always supported me. She said everyone goes through this PTT syndrome (no it’s not Push-To-Talk, it is Pre-Teen Trouble). As you grow older, you gain more KNOWLEDGE, and you will find the answers yourself.

I imagined that in the distant future, the fog around my brain would dissipate, the smoke would clear, and I will be able to begin the satisfying task of gathering pieces of understanding and storing them in my mind.  I was convinced that just like every item in the food store came with an expiry date, my dumb-ness also will have an expiry date? The day will arrive when I will finally have the power of “insight”, the gift of “knowledge”.

I patiently waited for the moment to come…Through my teens, my twenties, thirties..

I am still waiting.

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MD 22 : Dude from Planet of the Apes

IN the early 1990s, my father moved to Delhi, the capital of India. I had spent most of my life till then in a small town – Sindri in the state of Bihar (now Jharkhand). I thought of this move as being both good and bad – good because I would now be exposed to the charming city life – that would hopefully provide opportunities for growth. The not so good part, was my own fear – that everyone in the city would just be much more smarter than me, and I would soon become the “stupid ass from small town”

From my childhood, I had pictured myself in situations where I don’t belong, situations where people around me know more than me, and my skill level is not good enough for me to be part of that group. Thinking about such situations would send a shiver down my spine, and wake me up in the nights as if I just had a nightmare. Somehow, deep down inside me, I felt that in Delhi, I ran the risk of being “made fun of” – of being utterly and completely humiliated!

I was right!

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MD 19 : The Power Saver Mode

“How was your day today?” – wifey asked.
I had returned from a tough day’s work at office. We were having the evening tea together. This is the usual 30 min break for me before I open up the laptop again, and complete the remaining tasks for the day.

ME: Yeah, it was fine..

Silence

WIFE: Well, don’t you want to know how my day was? (feeling a bit disappointed with my one liner answer, and no follow up question)

ME: (I really don’t want to hear.. But let me be try to be a good hubby) Yeah… yeah.. How was your day, dear?

WIFE: Well… it was ok.. I mean.. There were some good, and some “not so good” moments, you know – the typical kind of day.

Dear readers – let me make another confession today. I suffer from “Selective Listening”. My wife makes it sound like a problem, but I really think of it as my ability – ability to “not clutter my brain with unnecessary information”. After all, I am already short changed with the amount of grey matter up there – so, need to expend it wisely.

Typical kind of day usually meant lot of details for next 15-20 minutes. I braced myself, as my brain switched to the “PowerSaver” mode – Selective Hearing controls ON.

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MD 18 : The Early Warning Signals

I am NOT a reckless driver. I am not a person who would jump lanes, rush past speeding trucks and buses, maneouver my way through the small space between two vehicles. Or completely miss a speed breaker, and almost have the car flying in air for few seconds. I also use the left and right indicators when I need to switch lanes or make a turn.

All the above statements are true.. hmm.. well mostly.

Let me put it this way – I am just a normal INDIAN driver who sometimes, yes, just sometimes, driven my primal instincts, tends to do some of the above things which well – to the orderly civilized world would be termed as “slightly rash” driving.

The real fun starts when I “need” to drive with my wife…..

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MD 16 : The Indian Signal Spectacle

It was Sunday afternoon. Lazy… lazy Sunday afternoon. The ones in which you do not even want to get up and do any work – any work!

Unfortunately for me, I was tasked with receiving Steve – our new client – from the airport. He was arriving from Chicago, US. We had loaded the luggage in the car trunk, and got into the Toyota Innova and I directed the driver to take us to “The Leela Palace” hotel, where Steve was to stay.

 We had driven through the outskirts of Bangalore, and just entered the heavy traffic area within the city. Steve and I were discussing about Bangalore weather, Indian food, Indian names and other sundry topics.

 The car stopped at one of the traffic signals…..

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MD 14 : Ready, Get Set, Go… Oh No!

I was going to send the first email to the customer.

I was 22- young, vibrant & excited (too excited or rather excitable as per my module lead) and had joined a reputed IT services company. Email communications with the customer was usually handled by the manager or the module lead. We were “raw” – and must learn corporate etiquettes before we could interact effectively with customer – we were told.

I have a strange habit of questioning status quo – so I questioned why the privilege to interact with the customers be restricted to only a few! The mails from the module lead to the technical person at the client side used to be simple technical questions – and in my simple mind, I found no reason why I could not write those emails. It was just simple English, after all.

 So, one day, I decided to discuss it with my module lead, Raj. I told him that I would like to write the next query that we send for our module to the technical lead at the customer side.

The technical lead’s name was Sulu Taylor. Well, her actual name was Sulochana Patel, and she had married a corporate hunk from the US and settled there. Over the years, her Indian name – Sulochana, had been Anglicized to Sulu. She was a tough customer, expecting the best of quality, immaculate communication and the best in class service at ALL times.

That day, I drafted the email….

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MD 13 : Spick n Span

It was unusually cool Sunday morning in Bangalore this week. It had rained the previous evening and almost through the night. I woke  with a rare feeling of energy pulsing through me – Its amazing how some days – it just feels right! “Today’s gonna be a very productive day” – I told myself.

Wifey was already making breakfast  in the kitchen, and my MIL (mother-in-law) was incessantly brushing away at the kitchen slab. She was cleaning up the apparent mess I had created when I tried to make myself some “Ready to eat” food late in the night – suddenly feeling hungry…

ME: Good morning folks.

WIFE: Good morning dear..

MIL : (Smiles and continues to brush the kitchen slab)

ME: So, what’s for breakfast?

WIFE: French toast!!

 Hmm…. I wonder why is bread fried with egg yolk is called french toast… hmm.. More research needed, but that’s for later…

ME: Ok… BTW, I feel today’s gonna be a highly productive day for me!

WIFE: (Gives me the We shall see Look)

MIL: (Continues to brush….)

ME: MIL, the slab is grey – it wont turn white if you continue to brush it!!

My MIL is a cleanliness freak – I think she has spent about 90% of her life cleaning something or the other. For her, everything’s got to be speck-less – yeah, in literal terms – no kidding!! Wifey – like her mother, has got the “Cleanliness DNA” well engrained in her as well. On the contrary, I am a bit of a messy person. Not the filthy types, but more the “cluttered and blissfully ignorant about it” types. As you can see, its not really a “Made for each other” scenario.

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