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The year was 2004, and we used to wait for someone to write in our Orkut scrapbooks. Broadband connections were nowhere nearly as fast as it is today, but we refreshed our scrapbooks every few minutes.  The arrival of each scrapbook entry made us happy. It’s easy to call us losers, but social networking websites met a fundamental human need. There was a time when I used to wake up at 6 to log into my Yahoo mail account. My internet connection was too slow that I couldn’t read mails before 8.  But when I could, I felt happy.

I spent many hours every day in Yahoo chat rooms. The boys in my hostel found this a waste of time. But I was instantly a hit with chicks. I metamorphosed into an online Casanova. Jocks in my college were worried. They said I was cheating. The plain truth is that I wrote well. Always on the lookout for great genes, teen girls didn’t miss this. Nerd is the new man. I felt pleasure when I was flooded with offline messages when I logged into Yahoo Messenger after many days. When I did not see enough of them, I was sad. Such pleasures and disappointments are what the internet and social media are all about. It is easy to call all this trivial. But this is big deal, because social media is our culture. For a nerd, the cost of sending out an instant message isn’t much, when compared to walking up to someone. Through small chunks of text I sent out and took in, I was creating a whole world inside my mind. My understanding of human nature became deeper over a long time.  Continue Reading

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Everybody who reads my blog knows that I’m a libertarian. But what are some of the unpopular non-political opinions I hold? Here’s my list:

  • Most people can’t think clearly because their hearts aren’t pure.
  • It is much easier to read, research, bookmark, share and write on modern gadgets. The best books on the internet are incomparably better than almost anything you’d find at the local bookstore.
  • It is much easier to read on Kindle.
  • The best blog posts are better than anything you will ever read in The New Yorker. Continue Reading
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I am an Aspie. I have a near-photographic memory, a razor-sharp mind, and the ability to focus on a problem for an unbelievably long period of time. If you know me, you know that I tell you exactly what I think—on your face. You feel bad. But, I don’t see why you should. I think you shouldn’t. In nine out of ten cases, if you had gone along with me, you would have done a lot better. A lot, lot better. Now, I am being modest. Deep down, you know this. You have even told me this, not always in so many words. But, you still betray yourself—and me—for the momentary pleasure of being petty.

You made a torture rack for me, and yourself, with your poor self-esteem. But, you still think I do not have empathy.

Now, you are probably thinking that this is about you. I know that this is exactly how you think. Common people—They always think that it is about them. Now, you are mad that I called you a “common person”. If you are so convinced, this is probably the truth you do not want to admit about yourself. But, this doesn’t occur to you.

That’s how common people are.

Tell them that Facebook is good for kids, and they will say, “Don’t ever tell me how to raise my child.” Tell them intelligence is genetic, and they will think you just called them stupid. Tell them that there is no trade-off between inflation and growth, and they will think that you don’t like them. If you write that half the people in Mumbai live in one-room houses, they will remove you from their friend lists. Tell them that their parents are “bad”, and they will faint. But, they will still admit, “I know that you are right, but this makes me so weary….so weary…”

But, I believe in Eugene Gendlin’s words, “What is true is already so. Owning up to it doesn’t make it worse. Not being open about it doesn’t make it go away. And because it’s true, it is what is there to be interacted with. Anything untrue isn’t there to be lived. People can stand what is true, for they are already enduring it.” This doesn’t mean that I am honest. All this means is that I tend to do this. If people were not so weak and pathetic, I would have been happy to do this all the time. Now, that doesn’t seem to be a tempting prospect to you, does it?

Reading me so far, what you have noticed is the arrogance, the self-righteousness, the condescension, the many “I’s”. You would not have noticed that all this is so true. But, that is exactly how you think. I know it.

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Elon Musk is one of those entrepreneurs who thinks very much like I do. I am now reading, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and The Quest For A Fantastic Future. Excerpts that resonate the most with me:

“One night Elon Musk told me, ‘If there was a way that I could not eat, so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal.’

“It was in my first interview with Musk, which took place at the design studio that I began to get a sense of how he talked and operated. He’s a confident guy, but does not always do a good job of displaying this. On initial encounter, Musk can come off as shy and borderline awkward. His South African accent remains present but fading, and the charm of it is not enough to offset the halting nature of Musk’s speech pattern. Like many an engineer or physicist, Musk will pause while fishing around for exact phrasing, and he’ll often go rumbling down an esoteric, scientific rabbit hole without providing any helping hands or simplified explanations along the way. Musk expects you to keep up. None of this is off-putting. Musk, in fact, will toss out plenty of jokes and can be downright charming. It’s just that there’s a sense of purpose and pressure hanging over any conversation with the man.”

“He would call very insistently,” she said. “You always knew it was Elon Musk because the phone would never stop ringing. The man does not take no for an answer. You can’t blow him off. I do think of him as the Terminator. He locks his gaze on to something and says, ‘It shall be mine.’ Bit by bit, he won me over.”

Musk never seemed to leave the office. He slept, not unlike a dog, on a beanbag next to his desk. “Almost every day, I’d come in at seven thirty or eight A.M., and he’d be asleep right there on that bag,”

Musk also began consciously trying to manage his criticism of others. “Elon is not someone who would say, ‘I feel you. I see your point of view,’” said Justine. “Because he doesn’t have that ‘I feel you’ dimension there were things that seemed obvious to other people that weren’t that obvious to him. He had to learn that a twenty-something-year-old shouldn’t really shoot down the plans of older, senior people and point out everything wrong with them. He learned to modify his behavior in certain ways. I just think he comes at the world through strategy and intellect.” The personality tweaks worked with varying degrees of success. Musk still tended to drive the young engineers mad with his work demands and blunt criticism.

“Someone complained about a technical change that we wanted being impossible. Elon turned and said, ‘I don’t really give a damn what you think,’ and walked out of the meeting. For Elon, the word no does not exist, and he expects that attitude from everyone around him.” Periodically, Musk let loose on the more senior executives as well. “You would see people come out of the meetings with this disgusted look on their face,” Mohr, the salesman, said. “You don’t get to where Elon is now by always being a nice guy, and he was just so driven and sure of himself.”

Employees at Zip2 would go home at night, come back, and find that Musk had changed their work without talking to them, and Musk’s confrontational style did more harm than good. “Yeah, we had some very good software engineers at Zip2, but I mean, I could code way better than them. And I’d just go in and fix their fucking code,” Musk said. “I would be frustrated waiting for their stuff, so I’m going to go and fix your code and now it runs five times faster, you idiot. There was one guy who wrote a quantum mechanics equation, a quantum probability on the board, and he got it wrong. I’m like, ‘How can you write that?’ Then I corrected it for him. He hated me after that. Eventually, I realized, Okay, I might have fixed that thing but now I’ve made the person unproductive. It just wasn’t a good way to go about things.”

Musk wanted a measure of control over his life’s story. He’s also wired like a scientist and suffers mental anguish at the sight of a factual error. A mistake on a printed page would gnaw at his soul—forever. While I could understand his perspective, I could not let him read the book, for professional, personal, and practical reasons. Musk has his version of the truth, and it’s not always the version of the truth that the rest of the world shares. He’s prone to verbose answers to even the simplest of questions as well, and the thought of thirty-page footnotes seemed all too real.

Our conversation began with a discussion of public-relations people. Musk  turns through PR staffers notoriously fast, and Tesla was in the process of hunting for a new communications chief. “Who is the best PR person in the world?” he asked in a very Muskian fashion.

One thing that Musk holds in the highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no. Dozens of other journalists had asked him to help with a book before, but I’d been the only annoying asshole who continued on after Musk’s initial rejection, and he seemed to like that.

For the first time, Musk would let a reporter see the inner workings of his world. Two and a half hours after we started, Musk put his hands on the table, made a move to get up, and then paused, locked eyes with me, and busted out that incredible question: “Do you think I’m insane?” The oddity of the moment left me speechless for a beat, while my every synapse fired trying to figure out if this was some sort of riddle, and, if so, how it should be answered artfully. It was only after I’d spent lots of time with Musk that I realized the question was more for him than me. Nothing I said would have mattered. Musk was stopping one last time and wondering aloud if I could be trusted and then looking into my eyes to make his judgment. A split second later, we shook hands and Musk drove off in a red Tesla Model S
sedan.

I found Musk back at work at the Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto. It was a Saturday, and the parking lot was full of cars. Inside of the Tesla offices, hundreds of young men were at work— some of them designing car parts on computers and others conducting experiments with electronics equipment on their desks. Musk’s uproarious laugh would erupt every few minutes and carry through the entire floor. When Musk came into the meeting room where I’d been waiting, I noted how impressive it was for so many people to turn up on a Saturday. Musk saw the situation in a different light, complaining that fewer and fewer people had been working weekends of late. “We’ve grown fucking soft,” Musk replied. “I was just going to send out an e-mail. We’re fucking soft.”

Elon exhibited all the traits of a curious, energetic tot. He picked things up easily, and Maye, like many mothers do, pegged her son as brilliant and precocious. “He seemed to understand things quicker than the other kids,” she said. The perplexing thing was that Elon seemed to drift off into a trance at times. People spoke to him, but nothing got through when he had a certain, distant look in his eyes. This happened so often that Elon’s parents and doctors thought he might be deaf. “Sometimes, he just didn’t hear you,” said Maye. Doctors ran a series of tests on Elon, and elected to remove his adenoid glands, which can improve hearing in children. “Well, it didn’t change,” said Maye. Elon’s condition had far more to do with the wiring of his mind than how his auditory system functioned. “He goes into his brain, and then you just see he is in another world,” Maye said. “He still does that. Now I just leave him be because I know he is designing a new rocket or something.”

Other children did not respond well to these dreamlike states. You could do jumping jacks right beside Musk or yell at him, and he would not even notice. He kept right on thinking, and those around him judged that he was either rude or really weird. “I do think Elon was always a little different but in a nerdy way,” Maye said. “It didn’t endear him to his peers.” For Musk, these pensive moments were wonderful. At five and six, he had found a way to block out the world and dedicate all of his concentration to a single task. Part of this ability stemmed from the very visual way in which Musk’s mind worked.

He could see images in his mind’s eye with a clarity and detail that we might associate today with an engineering drawing produced by computer software. “It seems as though the part of the brain that’s usually reserved for visual processing—the part that is used to process images coming in from my eyes—gets taken over by internal thought processes,” Musk said. “I can’t do this as much now because there are so many things demanding my attention but, as a kid, it happened a lot. That large part of your brain that’s used to handle incoming images gets used for internal thinking.”

Maye tells the story of Elon playing outside one night with his siblings and cousins. When one of them complained of being frightened by the dark, Elon pointed out that “dark is merely the absence of light,” which did little to reassure the scared child. As a youngster, Elon’s constant yearning to correct people and his abrasive manner put off other kids and added to his feelings of isolation. Elon genuinely thought that people would be happy to hear about the flaws in their thinking. “Kids don’t like answers like that,” said Maye. “They would say, ‘Elon, we are not playing with you anymore.’ I felt very sad as a mother because I think he wanted friends. Kimbal and Tosca would bring home friends, and Elon wouldn’t, and he would want to play with them. But he was awkward, you know.” Maye urged Kimbal and Tosca to include Elon. They responded as kids will. “But Mom, he’s not fun.” As he got older, however, Elon would have strong, affectionate attachments to is siblings and cousins—his mother’s sister’s sons. Though he kept to himself at school, Elon had an outgoing nature with members of his family and eventually took on the role of elder and chief instigator among them.

The Elon that his peers encountered at school was far less inspirational. Throughout middle and high school, Elon bounced around a couple of institutions. He spent the equivalent of eighth and ninth grades at Bryanston High School. One afternoon Elon and Kimbal were sitting at the top of a flight of concrete stairs eating when a boy decided to go after Elon. “I was basically hiding from this gang that was fucking hunting me down for God knows fucking why. I think I accidentally bumped this guy at assembly that morning and he’d taken some huge offense at that.” The boy crept up behind Musk, kicked him in the head, and then shoved him down the stairs. Musk tumbled down the entire flight, and a handful of boys pounced on him, some of them kicking Musk in the side and the ringleader bashing his head against the ground. “They were a bunch of fucking psychos,” Musk said. “I blacked out.”

Kimbal watched in horror and feared for Elon’s life. He rushed down the stairs to find Elon’s face bloodied and swollen. “He looked like someone who had just been in the boxing ring,” Kimbal said. Elon then went to the hospital. “It was about a week before I could get back to school,” Musk said. (During a news conference in 2013, Elon disclosed that he’d had a nose job to deal with the lingering effects of this beating.)

For three or four years, Musk endured relentless hounding at the hands of  these bullies. They went so far as to beat up a boy that Musk considered his best friend until the child agreed to stop hanging out with Musk. “Moreover, they got him—they got my best fucking friend to lure me out of hiding so they could beat me up,” Musk said. “And that fucking hurt.” While telling this part of the story, Musk’s eyes welled up and his voice quivered. “For some reason, they decided that I was it, and they were going to go after me nonstop. That’s what made growing up difficult. For a number of years there was no respite. You get chased around by gangs at school who tried to beat the shit out of me, and then I’d come home, and it would just be awful there as well. It was just like nonstop horrible.”

Musk spent the latter stages of his high school career at Pretoria Boys High School, where a growth spurt and the generally better behavior of the students made life more bearable. While a public school by definition, Pretoria Boys has functioned more like a private school for the last hundred years. It’s the place you send a young man to get him ready to attend Oxford or Cambridge. The boys from Musk’s class remember him as a likable, quiet, unspectacular student. “There were four or five boys that were considered the very brightest,” said Deon Prinsloo, who sat behind Elon in some classes. “Elon was not one of them.” Such comments were echoed by a half dozen boys who also noted that Musk’s lack of interest in sports left him isolated in the midst of an athletics-obsessed culture. “Honestly, there were just no signs that he was going to be a billionaire,”  aid Gideon Fourie, another classmate. “He was never in a leadership position at school. I was rather surprised to see what
has happened to him.”

“You can make billions of dollars for free,” he said. His boss told Musk to write up a report, which soon got passed up to the bank’s CEO, who promptly rejected the proposal, saying the bank had been burned on Brazilian and Argentinian debt before and didn’t want to mess with it again. “I tried to tell them that’s not the point,” Musk said. “The point is that it’s fucking backed by Uncle Sam. It doesn’t matter what the South Americans do. You cannot lose unless you think the U.S. Treasury is going to default. But they still didn’t do it, and I was stunned. Later in life, as I competed against the banks, I would think back to this moment, and it gave me confidence. All the bankers did was copy what everyone else did. If everyone else ran off a bloody cliff, they’d run right off a cliff with them. If there was a giant pile of gold sitting in the middle of the room and nobody was picking it up, they wouldn’t pick it up, either.”

Books, Uncategorized

When people ask me why I do not write for the mainstream, it reminds me of an incident that happened over a year ago. I mailed Psychology Today’s editor Hara Estroff Marano, saying that I would like to write on Asperger Syndrome. I am sharing this exchange, to illustrate why—much as I would like to—the effort is often not worth it for me. Contrary to what people believe, editors do respond (This is not true of Indian editors. They have poor personal standards.), and are not prejudiced against unknown writers at all. 

Dear Hara,

May I write an article for Psychology Today on why direct communication is a great virtue, in people with Asperger’s Syndrome? As a man somewhere on the  autistic spectrum, it was never clear to me why the direct communication  style of people with Asperger’s Syndrome is considered harsh and insensitive.  Some psychologists like Simon Baron-Cohen think that the people with  Asperger’s Syndrome communicate directly because they have an extreme male brain, and hence, low ability to empathize. But, if directness makes people  uncomfortable, this is perhaps a problem with people and not with direct  speech. People are indirect when they are not fully comfortable telling you  what they really think. An Aspie can easily claim that he finds it more  exhausting to interpret the indirect demands of people, defend himself  against their implicit accusations, and meet the indirect demands others impose on him.

I often notice that people are unable to put themselves in my shoes and understand that my disagreement does not indicate a conflict, or personal  enmity. This is a classic case of failure of introspection. I suspect that  this means that the neurotypicals are deficient in the cognitive component of  empathy. They are also unable to be nice to Aspies despite the disagreements they might have. I suspect that this means that they are deficient in the  affective component of empathy. Now, is it the people with Asperger’s  Syndrome who lack empathy? If someone is willing to defend true, unpopular  positions even when most of his peers disagree with him, I think he is a  dynamo of self-responsibility. I think literalism and disagreeableness are  the fountainhead of human progress. The triumph of the disagreeable over the agreeable is what the progress of humanity is all about.

Here is a published  work on mine. A book review emphasizing the autistic cognitive traits I noticed in Warren Buffett. And on why people like Buffett thrive in the information age:

Warm Regards,

Shanu Athiparambath

She replied:

Continue Reading

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I do not feel true sadness. I know that this is a strange claim. If I do not feel true sadness, how would I know what true sadness means? But, this need not be true. I have felt sad, at times, when I was young. I no longer feel that way. I would feel quite the same way if something happens to my child—if and when I have one. I think I would be sad beyond redemption. But, I cannot imagine this happening any other way. I do not know how common it is among normal human beings to not feel sad at all.

When I cry, it is out of anger, frustration, fear, or happiness. It is never out of sadness. I weep when I read, write, think or listen to something I deeply relate to. Along these lines:

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there. So, you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

Similarly, I have never known what it is like to miss someone. Many human experiences are closed to me. But, I relate to this essay: Continue Reading

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Years ago, a smarty pulled a trick on me. In the mornings, she would promise to come to my room. Before sunset, while the keyboards still jingled and rattled. Beaming, I always whispered, “Why, oh, how nice of you!” But, after a while, she started defaulting on her promises.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

I waited and waited and waited till it was too dark. The reasons she gave me were always along these lines, “This morning, a coconut fell on my grandmother’s head. You know, I love her more than anyone on earth. Weeping. Sob. Sob.”  Soon, suspicion began to dawn on my nerdy mind. The underlying assumption, of course, was, “Now that you have seen what it is like, if you want more of this, you must put me permanently there.” I could never get my head around this line of reasoning. But, this didn’t have any effect on me for the same reason rain does not have a big effect on the nerd who always reads in the school library.

I, the scholar and gentleman, still courted her, tolerating her antics with Buddha-like patience. I wasn’t big on sleeping with her. So, she assumed that I wanted to make her my “wife”. Now, I am being blatant at the risk of sounding honest. It is very cruel, to be honest. Continue Reading

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Young Women's Republican Club of Milford, Connecticut in 1941One afternoon, when I went out for “lunch”, I saw lots of fat women playing cards in the restaurant. I was not in a good mood. I felt giddy after Mr. Old Fashioned’s meeting in which people ordered many rounds of tea and snacks, while he repeated, “The problem with India is that the debates are not based on facts. [Emphasis his.]” A girl sneered, “But, we know how good he is on the facts.”

I heard that Mr. Old Fashioned once tried to prove that Gujarat’s economic performance is not so good. Like a shrewd sleuth who untangles a mystery, he listed the facts and figures to prove his assumption. Soon, someone on Twitter pointed out that he had mixed up the figures of Gujarat and Jharkhand. Mr. Old Fashioned swallowed the mortification, and yelled at the young reporter who did the “leg work” for him.

I tried to read in the restaurant while I waited, but these women were too noisy. They played cards in the restaurant in the afternoons, perhaps while their husbands worked themselves to death somewhere in the same lane.

I can’t read when women are shrilling into my ears.

They shrill into my ears when I write about them. A year ago, an ex-colleague called me and screamed, “You called me a grim, joyless lady who wouldn’t crack a smile?” I said, “Ummm, well, Yeah.” trembling. She gave me a stern lecture on the consequences of violating the modesty of women. She said that I have so much angst against the “society”, but do not know the laws of the land, and how they are tilted in favor of the female race.

I have so much angst but know so pitifully little.

She said, “Many women might have done things to you. But, that is your problem. That is not my problem. You may write about any woman you want to write about, but you shouldn’t write about me. To write about me, you need my permission.” After she made me cow down, there was a note of triumph in her voice. She then mellowed, and began to list the specific laws that might be used against me.

                                                                                           ******

At times, it is their husbands. A few years ago, I used to talk to a middle-aged journalist on Facebook. I gathered that she stalked me when I noticed her “moon face” on my profile page every day. When I asked whether this is true, she removed me, saying, “You seem to be one of those stalker kinds my 16 year old daughter asks me to politely ignore. I know that you are otherwise a wonderful fellow.” I see the world through my pure, uncorrupted eyes. It took me many months to understand what she meant.

She seemed not to mind when we talked on Twitter much later. But, one day, her husband, a low IQ Malayali idiot messaged me on Facebook: “Stop stalking my wife or I will !@#$%%%.” WTF. What could have happened? When she noticed that her hair was graying and that she no longer has quite the same effect on this moron, she might have hinted that she has a secret admirer on Facebook. These stupid men believe anything their women folk tell them.

                                                                                              ******

Once when I saw two South Indian women “writers” telling each other that their men think of them as Idli-making morons, I said, “But, you people make beautiful Idlis. :* ” One among them, a plump young woman lashed out at me saying, “Spare us those “kissies”. You don’t know what I am getting into.” She was hinting that the law was skewed in her favor. The other woman, Kavitha, sounded calm and serene. I thought, “This is a nice auntie.” But, then she started selling her “yet-to-be-published” book to me. A few months later, when I walked into a book store, I saw her book. 

Everything You Wanted to Write About Freelance Journalism (but didn’t know whom to ask)”

By Kavitha and Charu.

That evening, I was ROTFL:

“If you aren’t sure of what you want your article to achieve, you’re going to have a hell of a time convincing an editor.”

“The key to a good interview is to understand exactly what you need with the person you’re interviewing.”

“You don’t want to plagiarize. None of us do. Do you cut and paste information from the internet? Do you use several sources, including wire services, books and research? We all do, but there’s price to be paid for this quick access to information. It means that it is easier than ever to plagiarize without even knowing it. It also means that if you do plagiarize, intentionally or not, anyone, with a bit of digging, can find you out.”

A few weeks ago, when everyone was whipping Pankaj Mishra on Twitter, I noticed Kavitha tweeting, “You can write for the foreign media, even if you are not establishment elite, like Pankaj Mishra. Buy my book.”  😛 

Books

9780312310400_p0_v1_s260x420I am now reading “Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind”. I notice something strange about self deception. When people are supposed to do the right thing—and when they have no intention to do so—they create elaborate justifications for why they are NOT obliged to do that. Of course, they anger many people. They do wrong. They create enemies when they do so. These might be people who previously bore them no ill will. But, now their victims feel wronged and want to get even. But, this is precisely what people do in such situations.

A few months ago, a cheap smarty who spoke with a male friend of mine told me that this guy is cheap and mean. She said that she did not want to speak to him anymore because “they way he spoke—It was such a big turn off”. He was not someone I could trust, she said, because he fears that I might write about him. Much later, I heard from this guy that she had messaged him saying that I was annoying her. “Help! Help!” When I asked about it, she dodged the issue, and claimed that if I like her, I should trust her.

Poor thing. A week before this happened, she had sent me an email, pining.

Her full name is Akshaya Pillai. After all this, this smarty had sent him a long email explaining how I was annoying her, and why she had nothing to do with this.

Oh, the greatest writer of her generation chasing a little vermin with grandiose ambitions—the guttersnipe that struggles to write intelligible essays. But when I asked about this, she had forgotten the chain of events. She felt that she had not done enough to me. These cheapos have no self knowledge.

The truth was that what happened was mutual. I pursued her because she wanted me to pursue her.  She might have had her own reasons. Her father who drove bullock carts in the Middle East is now damaged goods and strapped for cash and was deported—to spend the rest of his life in a government hospital in Kerala. I do not know about that. I should have published her emails, and my conversations with her, but I have not done that.

 

Books

You were wild once. Don’t let them tame you.

Krishnapriya: You are an abomination. You seem barely human to me. I have always thought so.

Me: Do not say that.

Krishnapriya: That is how I feel much of the time. Honestly. When you knew me, I was a very  insecure child–defensive and very very spiteful.  I guess I was intelligent too. I do not want you to use that for your writing.

Me: You need not say it to me. You know, I am old and have gone through different phases in my life. I precisely remember what I had felt at different points. I can use that insight into myself in my writing. What I write is not personal. I think it is only you who know that. Your judgment in such matters is so accurate. The other people are totally clueless. But, look, I am human. This has always been a consensus. But, these days the consensus is that I am “attitudent”. Continue Reading

Books

A lady who shall go unnamed called me up now, and started screaming and crying saying that I have written about her on my blog. Teacher, Shanu called me Donkey.”

“Waaaaah”  

She is a journalist. I do not understand such people. There was nothing of a personal nature in that post. I do not mean to say that my position on this would have changed at all if there were something personal. I am often surprised seeing how shallow people are, and how easily offended they are.

Shame, Shame, Puppy Shame! 😛

A few days ago, a gentleman called me and asked about what I had written about him, in my blog post on homosexuality. He was very polite to me. He did not question my right to write about him, even once. I thought, “What a decent fellow this Vikram Johri is.” But, this is not typical.

Much as I rant against liberals, I think it is a great thing that in the recent past, there is a broad consensus among the people who read and write that there is something really wrong with all this. This is perhaps a relic of our barbaric past. A lot of this happens because people do not read. The less you understand the written word, the more you are likely to lose yourself over something someone wrote somewhere.  

An Interesting Piece of Amit Varma:

How insecure do we have to be to let mere words affect us so much? A few months ago, a salesman from a finance company called me a couple of times to try and sell me an insurance package. I was irritable that day, and the second time I said something to the effect of “… and don’t f***in’ call me again!” before hanging up. 30 seconds later, the phone rings. It’s the same guy, demanding to know “Why you call me f***er? WHY YOU USE BAD LANGUAGE?” I lost it this time, and unleashed a string of pejoratives at the fellow. I hung up again, he called me again. Though I did not answer any more of his calls, he called me about 35 times in the next two days, and his number is still saved in my mobile phonebook as ‘Birla Sunlife Troll.’ All that is a shame, and an example of what’s wrong with our legal system. But there is also something wrong with us, that so many of us take offence so easily at something we could so easily ignore. 

A post of Ajay Shah, On Shaming The Bullies

“There are two ways through which things are getting better. The first area of importance is public outrage. Even if India has laws that hinder free speech, we should all speak up and establish social norms in favour of free speech, where the use of existing laws that support attacks on freedom of speech is just not done. As an example, Vodafone embarked on legal bullying against one person, but backed away when faced with outrage. A splendid example of this push back is IIPM. Recent events (linklink) should make IIPM regret having gone down this route. Speaking for me, I have not accepted and will not accept invitations from IIPM for speaking or writing in their publications, and I will be quite circumspect about resumes that carry the name IIPM. (This is my standard operating procedure for left tail organisations in India). If enough of us do this, it will establish deterrence. Outrage matters. We should be naming and shaming the offenders and maintaining a hall of shame.”

But, I know the irony in quoting this passage.