Monday, April 21, 2008


I haven’t read The Argumentative Indian but I can quite imagine what the author must have tried to convey. I do not believe in stereotyping a country of billions but in this particular case, I wish I were as argumentative as the rest of my clan is believed to be.

The realization dawned upon me sometime in my final year of engineering when all of us were bitten by the M.B.A bug. Typically, an aspirant would be brandishing tiny, green word-power booklets that he’d dig out, like Zorro unsheathing his sword, the instant he could steal himself away from the crowd. A tiny, green booklet that had a “B” stamped on it meant that it had all the words in English that began with a “B” and that the C.A.T took fancy to. I still regret grossly underestimating the value of these booklets. I am not completely to blame, for who wouldn’t find it rather quaint for overgrown hunks to be holding in absolute deference tiny booklets that had “A, B” and “L,M” written upon them in yellow, as if almost about to break into the ABCD song. I realized my folly and the oratory power they bestowed on their keepers when I once got into an argument with my friend. I cannot recall what the argument was about because the import of what was about to come trivialized the original issue. I am used to raising my decibel levels when in the heat of an argument and my friend here, capitalizing on it, shelved me with three bouncers.

Bouncer number one and two- ‘You’re being vociferous and obstreperous”. He could see that he had already derailed my train of thoughts. So he came up with the winning blow- “And you’re also being tautological” Voila!!

“I’m sorry??”

“That’s all right” And he walked away, triumphantly.

From then onwards, communication took a completely new meaning.

Nerds were no longer nerds but bibliophilic ; lectures no longer suffocated you, they made you claustrophobic; Angelina Jolie was no longer sexy but scintillating; guys did not get drunk, they got inebriated ; people no longer chatted, they confabulated.

But my desire to be The Argumentative Indian did not stem from my fantasy of throwing long, unpronounceable words at unprepared victims. It began from the mock Group Discussion practice sessions that followed the C.A.T.

I decided to attend one of these hoping that it would make some addition to my non-existing general knowledge as most of these discussions are based on current affairs. We were seated around a round table and everyone was looking suspiciously at each other. As soon as the coordinator gave us the topic, which was “Reservation for the Backward Classes in India”, fourteen of the fifteen of us pounced upon the opportunity to speak first, like a famished tiger who had been waiting to attack his quarry, and shot off simultaneously, each trying to speak louder than the other. Needless to say who was the fifteenth. I was trying hard to comprehend what they were saying but all I could hear was death-metal like music where each instrument plays discordant notes independent of the other, resulting in noise. By the end of ten minutes I thought we will need tear-gas but the coordinator was a hefty man and, thankfully, manhandling was not needed. Because I had not educated the public with my opinion the coordinator politely asked me if I would like to add something to the discussion. I came up with this : “ I think reservations are fine and every weak section of the society should get it- the economically backward, the socially backward, the politically backward, the ethically and morally backward, the intellectually backward, the physically backward, the linguistically backward, the aesthetically backward, the spiritually backward….”

“That will be all.” , said the coordinator, rather brusquely.

Something in the tone of his voice warned me not to speak of my revolutionary ideas on “Reservation for the obese in modelling” and “Reservation for the vocally challenged in Indian Idol”.

But the brighter side of preparing for M.B.A was that it made writers of some of us. (One of them is writing this blog). Application forms had questions that would compel you to spark your imagination. Like this friend of mine got a call from a reputed institute and called me frenziedly the night before his interview.

“Hey, this form asks me why I want to do an M.B.A. Any ideas??”

“ Yeah.. why don't you tell them why you want to do it??”

“ I don’t knoooooow. Think of something that sounds convincing”.

And think I did. Did he qualify? How else do you think I get the confidence of making up stories and putting them up on my blog!!


nefariousoutlook said...

haha!!! well i can vouch for the whipping out of the green books part!! i must say, i didnt do that and maybe at one point even regretted it..I guess a lot of people would relate to the post!!

Karthik Balakrishnan said...

"Management is doing a thing right.Leadership is doing the right thing "Peter Drucker.Everyone has a place in this world.Dont fret if you cant have the former,your are born to be the latter.Undisputedly
refreshing article.

the who said...

Thank you Karthik.. your comments keep me going.. Nef and i are wondering if there's a green book for leadership too!! :P

Ansh said...

yeaahhhhhh.....and MBA becomes the raison d'être, and anomie creeps between friendship of 3 sexiest year of life>>>CAT becomes the obvious topic of college caucuses..with a proviso to enshroud the undertow of invidia about each others prowesses.. and being true calvinist we hope we fall under some reservation act by the time CAT is out on a stroll... AAmeen>>>and Plzz consider me for an amanuensis job, i too have experience of dealing with this Feline thing... as it's easy to make out by this comment, how much unswayed I am with those Tiny green booklets [:P]>>>>>

the who said...

Delhi just became hotter by a good 5 degree centigrade..
the fan is spinning slower than my head
and is asking me for word verification now with the kinda words i've been looking up..
ansh, think you're caught up in the wrong job man.. ever considered 3rd degree??


ROTFL...that was funny but true ..every single word was right .thanks

the who said...

:) glad you liked it Prashant! It seems a lot of us have seen it all happen!