Why Do I Find It So Difficult To Understand Sarcasm?

She wanted to name our baby “Sachin”. I believed her.

When I was in college, a 16 year old girl promised to marry me. She wanted to name our baby “Sachin”. I believed her.

When a policeman once asked me whether I’d like to get my passport on time, I smiled with gratitude and slammed the door on his face.

When I once read, “Ron Paul is a gynecologist, and he is self-taught.”, I did not understand why this evoked laughter in an audience. I still do not.

I’ve always had a tenuous understanding of sarcasm and double-speak. I take words literally. When I was a child, it took me many years to understand hidden insults. 

I’ve never had it any other way. I was not sarcastic as a child. I was too innocent to understand the art of insinuation. When a teacher was sarcastic to me at 9, I understood her only a year later. When I fully understood her, I felt numb, as if I were struck by lightning. I stood still, staring at my coconut tree. It was too late, because I’d left that city and moved into another school. There was nothing much I could do about this. This was deeply unsettling. Read More

What Is Wrong With The Indian Newspapers?

The greatest problem the Indian newspaper industry faces is the sheer incompetence of people, and their tendency to get locked into a particular way of doing things. A mail I had once sent to the editors of the Business Standard is illustrative. They did not listen to this boy, but I am glad that my wonderful ex-colleagues think that this is hilarious. The newspaper content is in block quotes:

“Merry Christmas, dear editors. I often hear that I write like an essayist and that my stories read like opinion pieces. But, I think it is far more effective to see where my comparative advantage lies.

Let us take yesterday’s Business Standard. See the report: “Kingfisher seeks resumption of operation”. Read this sentence: “The license suspension will be revoked only after the stakeholders are convinced with the plan.”

A person is convinced “by the plan”, and not “with the plan”. Read More