Rants, Birds, More Rants and Stuff

>> Sunday, March 30, 2008

Once upon a time, I used to dabble with the idea of taking to crime. It was the same age during when any man over 21 was supposed be called an uncle (At 20, everyone under 30 is hot). The idea did not really last. Possibly it had to do something with my abject inability to shoot balloons. As a four year old, I would get agitated at my inevitable failure to pop even one of them and would have to be forcibly restrained from beating up all those balloons with the same rifle I was holding. 16 years later, I wish my father would be around to restrain me again.

I have never really known why my father would take me to shoot balloons at an young, impressionable age. It has been proven in time that he never harboured dreams of raising a sharpshooter as a daughter. Common sense tells me it was probably because he had no idea what to do with me when babysitting. Paranoia tells me it was the best way to quell any homicidal tendencies I might otherwise visit on delicate furniture. He is a smart man, my father.

The above paragraphs has nothing to do with the theme of this post. In fact, this post does not have a theme. I have absolutely no idea what I am even typing right now. Its early morning, the birds are chirping away, welcoming the world in a trilling, mad, joyful, soulful song and giving me a headache, and I have to leave for my morning walk in half an hour. It will probably be another furiously hot day and I will melt away, sweat droplet by sweat droplet. In fact, if you have not guessed it yet, right now, I am not a very happy blogger.

I spent all my money in buying the Gameworld trilogy and finished them in under a week. This has had very strange developments. Like a spate of re-attendance to college, where I spend hours gazing happily at the seats and wondering if Samit Basu's posterior ever adorned them. (He is an alumni from the same department as me. If you think that motivates me in any manner, think again). There has also been cases of tattooing the name Kirin on my arms during Maths classes and later explaining to questioning parental figures that its just a misspelling of an old Enid Blytonian term.Parents, but obviously, refuse to believe such tripe. But are reassured by the fact that the elder daughter is not the closet lesbian they were fearing her to be. Today, a fictional hero, tomorrow, a living breathing man is the motto they are trying to live by. I am still wording the speech which should be informing them about the celibacy vow.

There was a week spent in un-idleness in Delhi. College packed three of us pseudo-economists off under the hope of keeping the beacon of Presidency Economics high. Siblings sent us off with joyful good byes in the hope of the splendour of gifts brought back. We went there in the hope of meeting some proper guys for a change (Dear Kolkata guys, please do not get offended, we love you all. You are intelligent, stalwart men who will always remain the people our parents hope we will end up getting married to. This is just the rebellious phase every just-left-teenage girl goes through. But we always come back to you. Maybe we leave you again later. But we will discuss that in some other post).

We did meet them. It was a wonderful eight days which we spent falling in love over and over again with every man in sight, not even excluding wonderful looking professors from Pakistan (Pakistan has everything, good looking professors, good looking men, even, for crying out aloud, good looking women, and an actual interest in Economics. Wish to reword those Partition clauses again). We also realized Kolkata is not an undisputed World number one in aantlamo. Very, very curiously, Delhi comes close. Frighteningly close.

However, the trip's main impact laid elsewhere. Not being one to keep people with their breaths held in taut suspense, I will be quick to come to the point. It was the washing of clothes (Cue, quick drawing of breath). It was while we washed clothes, past midnight, with the aid of shampoos the hotel beatifically provided, we realized that we had actually transcended to adulthood. That we were women in the real sense of the word. Also that we would make terrible washerwomen and that washing clothes would also have to be struck off from the list of alternate careers. There were also instances of impromptu dances which involved jumping on a rather bouncy bed and which ended with loadshedding and meeting cute looking guys in the lobby to discuss the electricity problems in Delhi and why that meant the Stock exchange was about to crash(The mating calls of economists are not very attractive. We are reduced to either discussing the Stock Exchange or questions on how to become millionaires while trying to get Ph.D. degrees. The first ends in fistfights, the second in MBAs).

I realize I must have mystified my readers (Gasp, I have readers, it feels good to say that while planning crazy attack on chirping birds). The college sent us off to Delhi to attend a seminar on (held breaths again) Economics (gasps) with a few other South Asian countries. Scores of undergraduate economics students were bunched of in a scenario reminiscent of Goopy Bagha Phire Elo where Bikrams are caught and imprisoned (this is for my non Bengali readers. Bengali readers, skip this section before getting an aneurysm or something by the mind boggling description) by a mad yogi of a sort, whose death had been predicted by a boy named Bikram. The imprisoned Bikrams in the story become his housemaids and washerwomen. We, instead, presented papers and listened to endless babbling by famous people on how to achieve the Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani/Nepali/Sri Lankan Dream. Since none of us were even particularly clear about which dreams they were focusing on, we would utilize the time to run away to Connaught Place and visit Nirula's. Or some other equally wonderful, ambrosial joint (Cue: Wipe away nostalgic tears).

Delhi stories might keep on appearing by bits and spurts. So might murderous attempts on birds. The balloon story, however, appears only here. I have no idea how to conclude this piece. So I will inform everyone that I am going to have chocolates for breakfast. Also that I have begun to resemble a blob. A nice, shapeless, green and brown blob. Which still does not sound like a conclusion. So I will try again.

This is the conclusion.

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The Dudes Abide

>> Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It is very easy to recognize economists when the budget season nears. They go about looking pale and sickly, heedless of all sights and sounds, except when wincing painfully at the sight of a copy of The Economic Times. It is not hard to reason why. Most economists forget all they have learned ten minutes after they get their degrees. Some do not even wait till the end of the examinations. After that, all theories propounded by them are a result of assumptions made and an imagination active. Many are the theories I myself have created on ill prepared examinations. Three of the papers easily deserve a Nobel. John Nash is a classic case of famous economists. No one but he could have created something which reads "Complementarity is the source of multiplicity in the Nash equilibrium". One requires the aid of an imagination fueled idea and a psychological disease to make up that.

The lot of an economist is a hard one. In the olden days, most people would join the Foreign legions to help them forget. With the legions having now been disbanded, they try to fall in love. Love after all, always makes you forget everything. However, most economists are a bunch of snobs, assuming (which is their business) that every other human is inferior to them intellectually and they deserve no less than Fellows from Oxford. Of course they do not get them. But economists are extremely persistent. If nothing else works, they go and take to drink. And they forget.

(N.B. If the economist is a female, she does not even need to take to drink, she takes to weight loss. That makes her forget everything, including love and foreign legions. It is an unstated general rule that female economists who take the subject seriously are fat. The fact that there are not enough female economists proves it. Who really wants to remain fat nowadays?)

But then drink brings out all that is base in man. Which is why perhaps when we got drunk, all we could do was whine about "Cournot equilibrium" and "Todaro-Harris model" and then sob in a corner.

But I digress.

(Click to enlarge)

Every man meets his Waterloo. And economists, despite all rumours, are humans. Albeit with slightly different Waterloos. While the misogynist finds the woman of his dreams, business tycoons find brothers constantly reminding them of their share in the business, politicians find unsuitable son-in-laws, economists have the budget thrust upon their unwary faces.

For in this world, there still remain a few of little faith. Judas is the name which comes to the mind as an example. Some who do not trust enough in the healing power of forgetfulness. And they keep on remembering. Then they go join newspapers as columnists. Or the "Gor-ment" as financial advisors.

It can never be a very pleasing sensation when served with your early morning coffee are the screaming headlines referring to cost push inflation. The Fates band up against you and you realize there is a family member looking down expectantly and asking you to explain the meaning of cost push inflation as opposed to other kinds of inflation. The hurriedly mumbled line defining cost push inflation as inflation pushed by cost, rather than by other, say, non cost, what do you call it, thing, is not accepted in a spirited manner and the economist goes back to face the world, a mere shadow of his former, jubilant, coffee sipping self. The Fates are a cruel lot though, once aroused by the Furies, and questions regarding the subtle difference between fiscal and revenue deficit haunts the economist's mind till he receives the next day's paper, which speaks glibly of various anti inflationary measures and waiving of farmers' loans.

However, the budget question, once admirably settled, does not raise its head again for a considerable time. No more is the economist tormented by the general, misguided public to explain something the general, misguided public happily imagines the economist knows about. The economist, what with the daily cares of the world on his shoulders and the severe concern for the income of various alcohol fermentators, gets involved in the grind again. And forgets. Time, as usual, remains the best healer. And the economists, as spelled out by this very fascinating movie called The Big Lebowski, abide.

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