Friday, May 13, 2005

To quit or not to quit...

From childhood on, I’ve been something of a quitter.

It all started when at the age of five I decided I wanted to learn to swim. I saw myself swimming away to Olympic glory, circumnavigating the world with my bare hands and having as many pretty, adoring female fans as Ian Thorpe.

My poor, unsuspecting uncle took me all the way to a swimming pool and told me to go take a shower and put my trunks on. I looked at the water, and saw that it was uncomfortably deep, not to mention uncomfortably cold. The shower capped it – there was no way I was going to take a bath! So I decided to quit.

I told him sagely that there were lots of girls around, and the sight of my dashing self in trunks would probably cause a riot (as they scrambled over each other to get out of the pool).

And thus did I quit…


Then, at the age of seven – the guiltiest secret of my life. Yes, I had been sent to carnatic music classes for a month. And my voice was just as bad then as it is today.

I decided to quit. But then, that wasn’t exactly my fault. My music teacher unceremoniously ejected me after tolerating a month of cacophony.

‘Maybe he has other talents, but a Yesudas he is not’, said my embarrassed music teacher to my mother, a day after she requested me not to darken her doorstep again.

And thus did I quit…


Then when I was thirteen, I met the Sensei. The Sensei was looking for a big challenge. But big challenges are hard to come by after you’ve jumped through hoops of fire, painted the chief minister’s portrait with your blood and had people break huge blocks of stone on your chest.

He took one look at me – fat, languid and unbearably loquacious.

He turned to my mother and expressed to her his fond desire to teach me the ancient art of self-defence that the Japanese had used to great effect.
Ever since the time when Meee Schream Loudawa (85-50 BC) tried to kick a dino who’d strayed into his cave, missed the dino completely, landed on a rather sensitive part of the anatomy and screamed out a loud ‘Kyaaaiii’. (The dinosaur ran out of the cave with a ruptured eardrum, and thus was born the ancient art of Karate.)

It was a skeptical mother who told him to try and see if he could.

I could do fifty push-ups on my knuckles with a light laugh. Twisting my body into ridiculous contortions while mouthing Japanese obscenities bothered me a bit– especially when my paunch got in the way – but I could do it all right (the creaks and snaps notwithstanding).

But what really got my goat was the pernicious habit two of my friends developed of standing outside the gate of the house where I learnt karate and passing lewd comments about my robes, my katas and the general inflexibility of my body. I wanted to sock it to them there wise guys.

But the Sensei had told me that no proponent of Karate ever used his hands (which, in case you didn’t know, are lethal weapons) to hurt even the smallest mosquito. More importantly, both the smart alecs were considerably bigger and stronger than me. As they laughed, I’d noticed muscles like iron bands rippling underneath their shirts.

So I decided to quit instead. I told the Sensei that I’d read ‘My Experiments with Truth’ and had been convinced that ahimsa was the only way. I’d outmarshalled the two amateur commentators. Besides, those darned mosquitoes were really getting to me.

(stage resounds to a loud slap as I sadistically annihilate a family consisting of papa mosquito, mama mosquito and two baby mosquitoes)


Cut to: 1999. A young, still plump and languid 15 year old about to walk into the big bad world of a science education in India smiles at you.

That ugly kid who’s grinning at you is me. It was in ’99 that I got the bright idea that I could make it into one of the Indian Institutes of Technology. All it required, reasoned I, was buying a huge sack of books and joining classes where balding old men on the threshold of losing their sanity taught you the fundamentals of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

What I had failed to take into account was that one also needed the ability to sleep four hours a day and still remain fresh as the proverbial daisy, work a hundred problems out in an hour, and have an IQ of at least 100.

I, on the other hand, found it difficult to stay awake during the two hours of JEE coaching class unless I tried to count the number of hairs on the professor’s dome.

I could solve a hundred problems in an hour if they were of the ‘Rama has three apples and he gave Shyama two of them, being the kind of selfless retard you read about only in Mathematics books. So how many apples does Rama have now?’ kind. But problems in the JEE were a little more complex than this.

As for the third count, well, I’m no Forrest Gump – Forrest’s a lot smarter.

So, the logical step out was to quit. And quit I did. My father still has plenty to say on the loss of several thousand rupees he incurred, especially when he
espies pile upon pile of material – still pristine in their plastic packaging.


I had turned an avid fan of the ‘Body Beautiful’ philosophy a couple of years ago. I spent hours at a gymnasium, sweating away in the 45 degree heat, trying my best to haul weights that weighed more than me. Ignoring aches, cramps and creaking joints, I religiously walked the hundred meters to the gym. I even ate healthy. I continued thus, until I looked a bit of a steroid junkie, especially around the arms. But then, because of changing priorities and a growing belief in the fact that having big biceps didn’t mean that people who viewed you as Little Lord Fauntleroy earlier would begin treating you with the respect due a Tarzan, I decided that gym wasn’t such a big deal after all. And I quit!

A month later, I welcomed my paunch back. And a few days ago, the beginnings of my erstwhile second chin began to peek out of the fat on a much rounder face.


But today, I have blogged for almost five months. I have persisted – even when I was receiving around two visitors a day and one of them was me, not to mention the time I had to take off several politically incorrect posts. I am surprised I continued. I had a niggling feeling in the back of my mind when I’d started that I’d quit by the middle of February. But I didn’t. And today, I’ve received 2000 hits!

Have I changed? Have I learnt from the old go-getter maxim which went ‘Losers never quit, and quitters never lose’? Have I got the aforementioned maxim wrong? Well, I don’t know…

But one thing I do know, if it weren’t for all y’all wonderful people. I’d like to right now thank my vacuum cleaner, television remote, dog, the mongoose who lives on the tree next door, the three sparrows who shit on my clothes every day…Waitaminit, this was the speech I’d prepared for when I win my Oscar*.

Anyway, the fact remains that I do owe the fact that I remain a blogger to you. So, thank you, and comment allez vous, mesdames et messieurs

* For those who came in late, I expect an Oscar any day now for my performance in front of my math lecturer when she caught me drawing caricatures of the vice principal dancing the waltz with Hamid Karzai.

It went something like this, (tears in eyes, loudly bawling when not speaking)

’Ma’am, Siddhu was a good boy, Ma’am. Peyi erriduthe (translated: A ghost possessed him). He will exorcise the ghost and get back to being the sweet chap I … I mean… he was, Ma’am.’

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