Saturday, September 17, 2016

F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college

A caterpillar is slimy, ugly and  struggles a lot  to survive. I don't even know if a caterpillar knows that it will turn into a butterfly someday. I assure you that this cliched analogy will make more sense than a (I)phone without  an audio jack. I wanted to start with something that can represent the feeling that I want to drive home.
Harry and Marv: Influence of friends
F.R.I.E.N.D.S, both the show and people, played a very important role in my life. I think  my friends shaped my personality and have played a critical role in where I am. Not sure whether it has been for bad or the worse, tough I am confident it is not for the good. Remember the villains of Home Alone movie Harry and Marv, they are one good example of the influence of your friends.Be it be their profession or their stupidity. Nonetheless, their friendship and influence on each other made for a great movie.
Here is an example of the influence my friends had on me, I remember being immensely satisfied and somewhat proud  when I scored the highest marks among my friends. Even if in reality I was comparing among the bottom 10 students of the class. It is an accomplishment to be the best of the worse among your friends. I also had friends who were more sincere and better at academics. I tended to perform better when I hung out with them.  And then there were other friends like Harry and Marv.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S at college
Friends I made in college were different from all the friends I had earlier. We all left our homes, there were no one to talk and rely on, except each other. We did not have smartphones and hence relied on each for support (man I feel old now). After a few awkward conversations, everyone opened up and post that there were no formalities. Everyone knew each other's vulnerability pressure points and how to exploit them. The main objective became to celebrate the failure and denounce the successes. Though it may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but it turned out to be a great foundation to our friendship.
There were also some important skills/rules that I learned with these bunch of friends. First and foremost, that your self-respect is as important as the  human Appendix. It did serve a purpose in past,now it creates unnecessary pain, and it would be better to get rid of it. Second, there are very very creative ways to insult your friends.Third, randomness and impulsive decision make the best stories. Fourth,irrespective of the ask, my friends will always do their best to help me and then insult me on the same problem.
Friendship at a college hostel is different because it is a friendship without supervision. It is  a natural selection, with an element of interdependence that differentiated college friendship with every other friendship. I think that college friendships are meant to last the longest.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college
My first year after graduation was an extended college with a key difference of having more money and cars. Consequently, there were more opportunities to do impulsive and stupid stuff. Also, most of my friends were in and around the city I stayed.It was one of the best years. But as the Game of Thrones can not go for more than 8 seasons , Harry potter for more than 7 books,Sachin Tendulkar  for 24 years and a friend of mine till 5 ft 5 in tall. It had to end and everyone moved to do something else.

When everyone moved apart I realized that there is a lot of effort and time that goes on making a good friend. The internal jokes,the 'HEIGHT' of jokes, the backgrounds of failures and breakups is hard to find again. Another interesting thing is that after college my friends have started accomplishing stuff both professionally and one personally (Pitin). You know your friends have come a long way when the friend who always made up stuff during college is a guest lecturer at business schools and still making up stuff.
Coming back to the first reference of a caterpillar's life. When you know someone from their early days of being caterpillars. It's always hard to appreciate the extent of their accomplishments. Other people see those accomplishments but college friends see the irony and humor in those accomplishments. One of the biggest departures from normality would be the first marriage (Pitin). I have no idea how this will change our friendship but it will be interesting to see. It is always interesting to see the contrast in reaction when you see someone accomplishing something and when your good friend does the same.
To all those impulsive and stupid decisions and hoping for more to come.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Art and Science of insulting

The only thing I remember learning at my Undergrad was the art and science of insulting. As you know, Insults can be broadly classified as insults with consequences and without consequences. The former can result in wars where 100 and thousands of people die (Draupadi Vs Duryodhan). The latter is what I dealt and learnt at my college.

During the course of those 4 years, I learnt to discard any respect or pity that I had to myself or any of my friends.  This is the underlying necessary assumption for insults without consequences. Like any other skill, insulting others also requires practice and dedication. One needs good teachers and a great learning environment to become good at insulting others. When I joined college, I have to confess that I was na├»ve and didn’t understand, appreciate or follow this great skill. I learnt from watching the adept in their acts and was really impressed by the nuances of their skill.  For the sake of context and simplicity lets call Pitin the person who we will insult.

One more important thing that I learnt at college was that insulting is a team game. The role of the audience is as important as the main insulter. Pitin only feels insulted when the audience laughs at what insulter is saying. So, effective insults require a lot of collaboration and teamwork. The magnitude of insult is directly proportional to the amount of laughter an insulter can generate from the audience. So, it is evident that insulting is a team game and requires a lot of coordination and timing.

Relying just on Pitin to provide content for insults is a mark of an amateur insulter. Professional insulters create situations that generate interesting content. Great insulters are always good friends with Pitin and never insult Pitin privately. They usually gain Pitin's unwavering trust and that makes him all the more susceptible to their play. Insulting is a group activity and you don't want Pitin to feel cornered. So switching to other members of the group to be Pitins is highly recommended. Best insults are those where Pitin is oblivious to what is about to come and is unaware of any traps .

One more important trick that I have seen the adept use is what we call as the 'PUMP'. A PUMP is an act where you say something to Pitin that he anticipates and desires but is totally untrue. For instance following is a trick that works most easily. You need an accomplice who knows the game. Let's say you are with Pitin in a bar or anywhere with some commotion and there is a girl. Make sure that Pitin also sees the girl, don't say anything just make some funny faces and keep him guessing. After some time when Pitin has his back on the girl, your other friend should take the cue and leave you alone with Pitin.

When you are alone with Pitin just casually slip in that the girl behind is watching him. Tell him not to turn his back and that he is on fire today. This is the inception of the idea now the second friend plays the part of making sure the idea sticks.The other friend should casually whisper to you  that the girl is looking at Pitin's direction so that Pitin can overhear you. After execution of a pump like this, you have Pitin by the neck and he feels pumped up  and can be talked into doing exactly what you want.This is a tried and tested technique and its perfect execution will have Pitin cornered .

Great insulters have many tricks like these up their sleeve and continuously get better at execution. To keep all the cards in your hands you should always have leverage over Pitin. Always reserve an embarrassing incident that Pitin dreads. The teachers at my college taught me that once you lose the leverage then the insults are not fun enough. Once the main arsenal is fired the enemy can no longer be intimidated. Remember being a sport and always play pitin once in a while, if your friends are good at this skill you will play Pitin more than you like. I assure you all, all it needs is a jolly group of people and Pitin for you to be a master of the game.

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