Thursday, December 8, 2016

Define The Next WANT

"What are you looking for?"
"What do you want?"
"What are you running after?"
"Why do you aspire?"

Almost nobody has the answers to these questions. We, humans, are a confused specie. Everybody wants to accumulate wealth, gold (a metal?), diamonds (a shining stone?), expensive possessions. Why? Ummm...dunno. Because everybody else also wants it. Who decided that Gold is worth sacrificing your life for? Who told us that we should work hard to achieve all these expensive things? Why do we want to acquire things that everybody else wants? And why do we want to get rid of the same things when it loses its value in the eyes of other fellow humans?

I think we do this because basically we think we should accumulate stuff which others find valuable. We don't have any clue why it is valuable or how it helps in our survival. We just want to have as much as we can, so that others see us in possession of the same stuff that they want. And to tell you the truth, they also don't know why they want that in the first place. Why would I want to put metal and stones on my body? I have no idea. Why would I want to spend 6 times more to travel in business class when I can just travel in the general class, which takes exactly same time and little less 'luxurious' and comfortable? Because I want others to see that I have what they don't, and what they want to have.

Since centuries someone else has been defining the WANTs. Clerics told us that we should want to be seen religious and God fearing. Henry Ford told us that we should want to travel in an automobile. McDonald's and KFC told us that we should want to eat fastfood. Cocacola told us that we should want to drink sugary aerated drinks. Sony told us that we should want to listen to music while walking. The list is endless. And you get the idea. I'm not saying that these are all evil humans/organizations. Not at all. What I'm saying is that, these people challenged the status quo and also changed it by redefining the WANT of their era. Everybody wanted to ride luxurious horse-carts but Henry Ford changed the WANT of the era. Everybody wanted to buy a bulky non-smartphone but Steve Jobs changed the WANT of our era.

These WANTs are never static. Just like Schumpeter's waves of transformation, they're appearing and vanishing much faster than ever before. It was considered to be old fashioned to be on My Space when Orkut was around, then Facebook out-fashioned Orkut and now Facebook is struggling to remain relevant in the eyes of the millennials. They are all trying to find the next WANT, and want to be the next WANT so that people want to be with them.

If you want to become an entrepreneur or any sort of relevant figure, you need to be able to define a new WANT which people have not found worthy enough to stand in queue for 16 hours in freezing cold. You need to be able to convince them that their current WANT is ridiculous and also only a fool will cling on to it. But doing this just once is not enough. You don't want to be the Flappy Bird of Apps (remember the mass hysteria?). You need to constantly be able to redefine the WANT and replace it with the new WANT which only you can provide.

So next time when you want to think about how you can create something that people would value, think about what they WANT right now which you are thinking of replacing, find a way to convince people that it is not WANT-able anymore and subtly incline them to WANT to want what you are going to offer them.

Friday, July 29, 2016

What is WRONG

No I'm not asking what's wrong with you.

I don't care. Nobody cares. Seriously. Those who say so, want you to care about what's wrong with them. So forget about it.

I digress.

I wanted to ask, what exactly is WRONG? How do you know something is wrong and something is right? I mean, isn't it like an almost impossible task to stay morally correct? Who defines right and wrong? Who maintains that database? Who updates it?

If I was in the last millennium, I'd have been probably executed for believing that the Earth wasn't flat. In 17th century, I'd have been mocked to propose that women should have a right to vote. In 19th century, I'd have been probably arrested to suggest that slavery is inhuman. Even right now, in my country, it is illegal for two human beings to love each other if they anatomically belong to the same gender. Even anal sex is illegal, and at the same time, marital rape is not illegal. Can you imagine how ironic it is for a country that takes pride in being called as the origin of Kamasutra!

Anyways. I am not here to complaint about the current sociopolitical climate of my country. No country is perfect. No human is perfect. Perfection is a myth. Perfection is boring. Perfection is overrated. Perfection is predictable. Perfection is subjective.

I digress again.

I see people arguing tooth and nail to prove they are right and everybody else is wrong. Its so futile. Waste of time and energy. Crushing rocks into gravel would be a better use of that time. You don't even need to time travel. Right and wrong are so vastly apart right here on our very own planet's different corners. One country accepts consumption of certain substances as a totally legal activity whereas some other country can get you executed for that.

How do you unite humanity which is so vastly divided among their own opinions on what is right and wrong. How do you define the right way of living. How do you dictate to humans how they are supposed to behave when you yourself don't know what is right for you, let alone others. Why waste time and energy in this irrelevant charade. We elect a group of people who then decide what is right and what is wrong for us. Sorry, not for us. For those who fill their pockets. They try to eliminate uniqueness and bring in 'uniformity'. Anything that is not uniform, that is alien, unknown, different - is categorized as wrong. Then a strategy is formulated on how it can be first contained, then quarantined and finally eliminated.

Who wants a world where everything is same? I want to see rainbows on one side and waterfalls on the other. People who want to sing, dance, love, juggle, somersault, dive, paint, run, jump, squint, squat, swim, split. I want everyone to be allowed to do whatever the hell they want to do. Yes there will be destruction. There will be pain. There will be tears. But how is that any different from what is there in the world right now? Isn't pain, agony, tears, destruction, death, miseries there right now? Even with all the brightest of minds in the world collaborating to find the so called 'wrong', aren't innocent people suffering?

I'm not in favour of law of the jungle. Actually I don't know what I want in the first place. All I know is that I don't want a random loser thrusting his/her opinion down my throat about what is wrong and what is right as per their crooked dictionary. If that much can be spared for this innocent soul, I think I'd have achieved nirvana.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Short Story: The Surprise

"Come on daddy..I'm getting late..I also have to go to office after this....."

"Laali beta..where are those coupons I had cut from yesterday's newspaper..I want to get a free spoon with purchase of pressure cooker on the way.."

"Daddy for God's sake stop fooling around and get in the car right now! If you don't get dressed in 5 minutes then I am not taking you to the ghazal mushayra next Sunday..."

"Okay okay I'm coming..you don't need to blackmail me...Laali beta...look inside the television cabinet..I'm sure I had put the coupons there last I remember.."

10 minutes later waiting for the traffic signal to turn green.

"Who is this photographer friend of yours Pappu...I never heard of him before.."

"Daddy..first of all stop calling me Pappu...my name is Pratap Singh for God's sake..and I don't want people in my office to start calling me Pappu...so next time you call for me ask for Mr Pratap Singh..don't ask for Pappu..got it?"

"Got it Mr hotshot manager...now will you bother to answer my question?"

"What question?"

"Who is this photographer friend of yours to whose shop you are taking me?"

"Oh..he takes great portraits Daddy...we'll get yours also. He said he'll give me senior citizen's discount!"

"I don't want a portrait. If he takes good family pictures then I don't mind. We'll take Laali and Chimpu for the family portrait..what say?"

"Don't be a baby now. Its just a portrait...wont take more than a minute. You just have to sit still and we're done."

"But I don't need a portrait. Can we buy a pressure cooker in stead? We'll get a free spoon!"

"Daddy..last week my colleague's neighbour passed away..he was almost 65 years old. His sons never bothered to get a nice portrait of him. They had to photoshop his picture out of a family function album. Can you imagine how embarrassing that would be if something like that happened to me? You never even try to understand for once, do you!"

Nobody spoke for rest of the ride. Pratap texted Laali that Dad was being a pain in the neck. Portrait was delivered 3 days later.


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15 Years Ago
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"Come on Pappu..I'm getting late..I also have to go to office after this....."

"Mummy..where are my cricketer playing cards..I want to exchange Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Gangully cards for a leather cricket ball at the sports shop!"

"Pappu for God's sake stop fooling around and get on the scooter right now! If you don't get ready in 5 minutes then I am not taking you to your cricket match next Sunday..."

"Okay okay I'm coming..don't need to blackmail me...Mummy...look below the tape recorder..I'm sure I had put the cards there last I remember.."

10 minutes later, waiting for ice-cream cone.

"Who is this Bihari Kaka we are going to Dad?"

"Pappu..first of all stop calling me Dad...it sounds as if I'm dead...call me Papa or Daddy at least..got it? Now throw that wrapper of the cone in the dust bin and get on the scooter..we're running late already"

"Haan haan Papa...now will you bother to answer my question?"

"What question?"

"Who is this Bihari Kaka, to whose place you are taking me?"

"We need to collect some reading material from his son. He scored really well in his SSC exams."

"I don't want more reading materials. I get enough reading in the text books already. Can we go to the sports shop and check if they will give me the leather ball? I promise I will get the cards tomorrow!"

"Don't be a baby now. That stupid ball is not more important than your career. Now sit quietly, we're almost there."

"But I don't need another stack of books Dad. Can we buy a stack of cricketers' playing cards in stead? We'll get a free leather ball!"

Papa doesn' answer the question. Goes inside Bihari Kaka's house. Comes back with a huge bag that appeared a bit heavy. Pappu's heart starts to sink. But this one doesn't look like being stuffed with books. As Papa comes near, he can see pads and stumps peeping out of the bag! His pupils start to widen and heart starts to beat faster than Waqar Yunis' bowling run up!

"W..w....what is this Dad? I mean..Papa?"

"Bihari Kaka's son is a state level cricketer. Last week he saw you playing and he told that you have got talent. He asked if you could use his childhood kit which is of no use to him anymore, so I accepted it. Now I want you to promise me that you will get 80% in the exams or else I am giving this kit back. Do you promise?"

"Wooooow....this is sooo good...these are real gloves...real helmet! It even has India's flag on it..just like the one Sachin wears! Look he even has thigh pads!"

"Pappu...I just said something...are you even listening? Promi....."

"Now I will show those Shobha Apartment losers what real cricket is. You just see Papa. Nothing can stop me now. Not even Ambrose or Walsh!"

"I knew I should not have done this. Anyways now let's go back home and destroy the remaining windows that are not broken in the apartment by your sixers."

Pappu couldn't stop talking the whole day to all of his friends what nice guy Bihari Kaka's son is. And how he hates his dad's sadist tactic to make him score 80% in exams or else he'll snatch his cricket kit away. He was awarded man of the series at the end of the tournament.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Watch Out for the Tricky Self-Derogatory Joke

When you're in a party or a gathering or a meeting, you might notice someone making a joke about a peculiarity of themselves, which appears as if that person is capable of laughing on himself or herself. For example, "I need to loose some weight or else my association has given me a notice that I might have to foot the bill for the elevator's maintenance!!" or "I'm so short sometimes I wonder what's the criteria to be registered as an official midget!!".

Jokes like this, which you think, are aimed at just breaking the ice or introducing humour in a tense situation or having some innocent laughs. But beware. It is not always true. Well, it is rarely true. The person who's making these joke about themselves has a secret agenda. If you notice carefully, right after the finish the joke and start laughing hysterically (so that others also join in the laughter), they notice who else is laughing, and more importantly the length of the laughter. Its not that they do this purposefully or its planned, this is more like an evolutionary trait, ingrained behavioural analysis tool that we all have, to test which of the primates around us are trustworthy and which can stab you in the back.

The logic is that, when I crack a joke that is derogatory to me, first of all I openly accept my flaws. This makes my reputation as a harmless creature in front of others, because basically I accept that I am having a flaw that is so ridiculous that in stead of trying to hide it or improve, I have started laughing at it. Secondly, we all always concentrate on the flaws of the people we hate. So if I crack a joke on my flaws, my haters are going to agree to it vehemently and hence their laughter is going to be prolonged because they are firstly happy that I am vulnerable and secondly they are relieved that the weakness they noticed in me is confirmed, or openly laughed at. When we crack a self-derogatory joke, our aim is to find out these traitors in the herd who are secretly harbouring negativity about us. Those who laugh the longest and the hardest are the ones you need to watch out for.

In case you're in a situation when you find someone cracking a self-derogatory joke, in stead of laughing along, if you mildly disagree to it ("what are you talking about...you're perfectly healthy"..."oh come on...there's nothing wrong with your height" with a convincing disbelief); not only will this flatter the other person, because even though they're laughing at their flaws they'd be surprised that someone admires them and completely ignored their flaws, you'd also be added in their 'trustworthy primates' list subconsciously. But remember, your disagreement and disbelief about the flaw must be totally convincing and genuine. If you try to fake it then you're in even worse danger-zone. So tread carefully. If faking isn't your forte then its just better to grin and stop rather than joining the hysterical laugh.

So next time when that bullet of a self-derogatory joke is shot at you, better handle it like Neo of The Matrix.