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     Volume 5 Issue 106 | August 4, 2006 |

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Common Cold

All Things Bright & Beautiful…!

Neeraj Sinha

“How many runs did you score today?
“I think 3 or 4…”
“Be precise uncle, was it 3 or 4?”
“Actually 3…”
“So, did your side lose the match again today?”
A brief pause followed as my tormentor gulped down the remaining portion of his soft drink, fished out one remaining piece of 'gum' from his pocket, placed it in his mouth and in the same dismissive tone as ever asked me to spell out EXTRAGAVANZA…! Naturally I couldn't. I mean I was never an aspirant for the world spelling Olympiad. But the blighter wouldn't give up and decided to give me a second chance.
“Spell GODZILLA, then.”
“No I won't.”
“Cause you can't…”
“Which school did you go to uncle?”
There are aspects of life on this earth that I am not certain about, but this I know for certain that I don't like bright people. And the more I see of this little devil, who happens to be the son of our new neighbour, the more I am convinced that having a smart kid is a curse next only, in the hierarchy of scourges, to having a bright and alert wife. The pitfall of having a smart wife, the kind who will see through your carefully crafted plans, is well documented and hardly bears repetition. Never however, underestimate the irritation potential of the Smart-Alec kids who roam the neighbourhood in search of potential prey.
Talking of bright people, I once had a girl friend who was doing her Ph D on 'Probabilistic Methods in Concurrency Calculus'. From the sound of it, I initially assumed her work must have something to do with Ballistic Missiles. It was only later that she explained she was working on Concurrent Languages for Probabilistic Asynchronous Communication. That didn't ring a bell. Neither then, nor later in the church! Like some of my other 'gifted' girl friends, Miss Calculus as you would have expected, faded out of my sight and now remains like a long forgotten unresolved binary equation.
Despite my best efforts to take measures to the contrary, I seem to be caught in a web of friendships and acquaintances where almost everyone leaves an impression larger than mine on the scale that measures intelligence. Trust me, I immediately dive for cover the moment I see this great Human Resources expert on the prowl. But there's not much you can do, is there, if the manpower expert lives on the same floor as you? The chap already gets a significant negative grading from me for his complicity in bringing on earth the little blighter who I have referred to at the very beginning of my tale of woes.
“So how are you this morning, Mr. so and so…”, is usually how he would begin each day, the moment he had me cornered.
“Fine”, I would say, not wanting to give him an opening by confessing I'd just finished my customary mid morning row with the maid.
By now he would have firmly covered the lift door, blocking access.
“But I just heard raised voices in the kitchen and was wondering if at all you got breakfast…”, he would say gleefully adding that he had been speaking to my maid while I was not around and how she had told him I left much to be desired as an employer. After a theoretical re-construct on human nature and its failings, the consultant would follow it up with a customary sermon on how one needs to marshal one's resources with care and patience!
Meanwhile, the lift would have come and gone at least 4 times. Having got his morning 'fix', the man would say his good byes and depart on a cheerful note, leaving me sad and stranded in the common area outside our flat.
This then friends, has been the pattern of my life for the last few months. That is not to say that I have not contemplated moving residence. It is just that in the unusually posh area of the town that I live, there are hardly any 'normal' neighbours to be had for love or money. And the company which pays for my little flat is unwilling to allow me a move to some of the more down town locations, apprehensive about the adverse impact it might have on their branding.
Meanwhile, I had a particularly dull day at office yesterday. Some bright spark sent a fresh batch of youngsters who were all recently recruited to me for practical training. Now those of you who have trained in groups would know that there always are a few keen type folks amongst the trainees whose quest for knowledge is so intense that they never spare an occasion to ask questions. I do not wish to bore you with details. Suffice it is to say that it is not a good idea to pretend before these bright new things who pass out from universities in droves that you might know more than them even on subjects that might have once been your forte!
The wind of misfortune continued to blow when I reached home. The little rogue of neighbourhood fame was lurking close by and the moment he saw me back, wanted to know if I could spell HIPPOPOTAMUS. Not prepared to take a no for an answer, he asked me to spell HOMOSAPIEN. The fellow never took a hint. Remaining partial with H, he next rattled a string of what seemed to me, profanities: HULLABALOO, HYENA, HYGIENIC, HYPOCRITIC. It was clear that the blighter had done his homework well… just as it was apparent that I had never done mine!

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