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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. Continue Reading

Books, Uncategorized

How many batteries do you have?

I read a story about an eight-year-old Aspie boy in Tony Attwood’s “The Complete Guide To Asperger Syndrome”:

The door bell rang, heralding the arrival of another guest for Alicia’s birthday party. Her mother opened the door and looked down to see Jack, the last guest to arrive. It was her daughter’s ninth birthday and the invitation list had been for ten girls and one boy. Alicia’s mother had been surprised at this inclusion, thinking that girls her daughter’s age usually consider boys to be smelly and stupid, and not worthy of an invitation to a girl’s birthday party. But Alicia had said that Jack was different. His family had recently moved to Birmingham and Jack had been in her class for only a few weeks. Although he tried to join in with the other children, he hadn’t made any friends. The other boys teased him and wouldn’t let him join in any of their games. Last week he had sat next to Alicia while she was eating her lunch, and as she listened to him, she thought he was a kind and lonely boy who seemed bewildered by the noise and hectic activity of the playground. He looked cute, a younger Harry Potter, and he knew so much about so many things. Her heart went out to him and, despite the perplexed looks of her friends when she said he was invited to her party, she was determined he should come. And here he was, a solitary figure clutching a birthday card and present which he immediately gave to Alicia’s mother. She noticed he had written Alicia’s name on the envelope, but the writing was strangely illegible for an eight-year-old. ‘You must be Jack,’ she said and he simply replied with a blank face, ‘Yes’. Continue Reading
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A cat, not a defective dog.

The Urban Dictionary has some interesting definitions of the term “Aspie”:

A superior being, while deficient in chaotic morasses such as small-talk, inferior double-standard-laden customs and values trumpeted by Neurotypicals, and deciphering Neurotypical body-language, more than makes up for it with a sharp, penetrating mind that is highly adept at developing an intense focus on a subject giving them a near-savant level of proficiency, an inborn sense of principles that allows them to develop practically consistent characteristics and values, and an ability to reason independently, reducing their susceptibility to dogma, acceptance of groundless assertions, and the hazards of groupthink.

The eccentric man with the encyclopaedic knowledge, monotone voice, and static facial expression must be an Aspie.

An aspie is one who has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is believed to be part of the autism spectrum. Aspies, while being quite gifted verbally, have social, emotional, and sensory integration difficulties, among others. Aspie is an affectionate term, and is not meant as a put down.

My son is an aspie, so he’s not so great at making idle chit chat at parties, or even at being in crowds, but he can get us home from anywhere. He says he just consults the map in his brain. Continue Reading

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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”. Continue Reading

Books, Uncategorized

I have never read this before.

I have been hearing for long that reading the newspapers is the mark of a good boy. So, I have been reading the newspapers regularly to see what our salt-and-pepper-haired, intelligent people say. From what I hear, these are the people who know the ground reality. Their opinions do not come out of an ivory tower, like that of mine or that of academics.

But, when I read them, I feel that I have never read such highbrow English before. I have never read such lame theorizing before. But, it makes a lot of sense to read them because it is wrong to have such “prejudices”. It is wrong to dismiss people without giving their views a fair hearing. Let me read. I will begin with Mint-The WSJ, a newspaper of high editorial standards. Continue Reading