Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why Don't People Laugh Anymore?

A lot has been said about Shashi Tharoor and his tweet (for the story click here). If the folks in power did not find it funny, the least they could have done was keep silent instead of branding Tharoor as insensitive. I am sure he had no intention to hurt anyone. It was a spontaneous reply to a question. I personally found it funny, though I do think he should tweet less and work more.

A child they say laughs around 300 times a day. As he grows to an adult he laughs less, as few as 15 times a day. The Indian politician, not only stops laughing but loses his sense of humour.

I think more of our politicians could do with some laughter and cheer. It is ironical that Tharoor seems to have forgotten his earlier writings. Much before he joined the political scene, he wrote in The Hindu ( 2001), that as far as political humour is concerned, our national cupboard is bare. The Indian nationalist leaders and the politicians, he said, are a humourless lot; and if the incidence of wit and humor in national politics is a fair indication of the health of a democracy, India could use a good laugh.

Well, not everyone can be an Al Gore. He lost a closely fought election and one would think he would be very bitter person. But the former presidential candidate for a long time began his speeches with “Hello, my name is Al Gore, and I used to be the next president of the United States.” And it won him many admirers.

Humour, especially in public life or in general can help defuse a tense situation. One can even play safe by allowing the joke to be targeted at themselves, to ensure none are offended. Self-deprecation has its advantages. Psychologist Michael Cunningham says "Self-effacing humor isn't threatening because it points out that a someone is confident enough to risk looking silly." But a word of caution - Don’t poke fun at yourself simply so someone else defends the opposite. This will appear manipulative and narcissistic.

Laughter they say is good for health, and triggers release of endorphins, the natural painkillers and induces a sense of well being. As Grouch Marx is reported to have said ...yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it - cartoon source

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meteorite Impact ?

This could easily pass off as one.

The photograph appeared in the Times of India, with the caption - Do potholes have to be this big to catch the officials attention?

Thankfully, it was noticed during the day and before the whole portion caved in. Otherwise one shudders to think of the casualties. The road is a major link between the twin cities and also leads to a spot where city dwellers like to relax in the evenings.

Potholes are not restricted to our city or our part of the world. It appears to be a major problem even in the West. But the official apathy here is unequalled. We could even win a few awards.

Apparently, Fidel Castro in 1995, proclaimed he ''would not vote for the New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, not just because he didn't invite him to dinner, but because on his way into town from the airport there were such enormous potholes.'' Potholes seem to be a problem even now, but one can appeal for action. If a vehicle is damaged by a pothole, a claim can be filed with the city of New York . New York State Trial Lawyers Association have also formed the Big Apple Pothole Protective Committee.

It will be ages before we have some helplines like these. The city municipality website was launched with fanfare. It gave us some hope that there was someone you could turn to for assistance. Initially, I must admit, there was some response. It is not easy to find out which ward, circle, zone you belong to and then find out which of the departments to direct the complaint. That is a huge effort by itself. But of late, I wonder if the officials log in to check the grievances at all. The status of the complaint remains unchanged. And by then, we learn to accept and live with the situation. The tolerant nation that we are!

The millions that are lost in damage to health - the effect is enormous on the back and neck - and vehicles are huge. Are any statistics at all? Let us hope the size of this particular pothole would have at least woken up some official to take action.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Man's Best Friend

For all dog lovers and owners there is a gadget that has been launched in the market. Bowlingual, a translator gadget released by Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy, can turn barks into words. You may indeed find out what your dog thinks of you!!

Tomy says there is a scientifically developed system that recognises the canine vocalisations. Your dog might be telling you that he likes you, he is happy or just that he does not want to eat the **##** food that you serve him every day. Now, how does that make him different from anyone else in the house?

I do not own a dog, but according to me what makes a dog a perfect companion is his inability to converse and express his opinion. I'd rather have him curl up at my feet or wag its tail and let me interpret his actions.

Fortunately, the Bowlingual translation is in Japanese and you may need another translator to understand what your dog is actually trying to tell you. So, it may not be economical to invest in one right now.

And if at some point they can translate the barks to a written word, there may be a situation when the old adage 'On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog' made popular by this Pete Steiner cartoon, may indeed come true -

P.S: I completed two years of blogging on Sepember 10.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chovy ?

A friend sent his car to the garage. A car had rammed into his Chevrolet. It came back with all dents and scratches set right. And a new name!

( Picture courtesy - my brother VP who noticed it! )
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