Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bab(e?)s on a plane...

Sometimes you wonder about small mistakes that lead to huge consequences. Much like the much touted butterfly effect where an extra flap of a butterfly's wing can lead to cyclonic storms in the other part of the world.

Before I continue on this deep, insightful, philosophical, and possibly commercial post, a couple of asides come to mind:
Its funny I never wondered about why a butterfly is called a butterfly. I mean were prehistoric butterflies larger, yellow and salty to taste? How do these combined nomenclatures (compound words - says google) emerge? Let's take 'sweetmeat' - came across this as I was reading Kim again (related aside - I loved Kim as a child as a pure boy-adventure story, but as I read it now there are so many connotations to it. Some still great but some really negative considering it was written during the British rule in India. Oh, wait, wait, another aside - I was always fascinated by the scene in Lurgan Sahib's shop where Kim sees the translucent image of the jug appear. I never understood how it was done and I actually thought there was some magic involved. This time when I was reading it I actually googled it alongside to see how other people have interpreted the scene. Now I know what was happening there (I won't tell you). Now the question is that knowing seems to have broken the magic and awe I used to feel when I read this scene. So the larger question is  - is it good to read other people's interpretations or to let things lie without having a precise understanding. Anyway, this is just a parenthesis inside and 'aside' so I will not dwell on this). So, why would 'meat' be used as a part of sweets? I know people spend their lives on linguistics, and I kind of understand why they do so - these are fascinating puzzles.
The other 'aside' is Samit Basu's Gameworld Trilogy that has a significant role for Kaos, the butterfly.  Very interesting series of books- I highly recommend, even if you're not into fantasy - it's just such a fun set of books! 

Ok, I'm done with the asides. No, no really - I am so done with them. They make you sound like a rambler - and dedicated readers of this blog would know what a precise blogger I am. No, the three of you, shut up. Family is supposed to back each other up.

So coming back to the small-mistakes-leading-to-huge-consequences thread, I'll have to take you back to a laughably short time ago. The time when God was about to send yet another batch of babies to the earth - and I happened to be a part of that batch. So as you know (or maybe not - I seem to have a sharper memory than most about this stage of the process), they hand out forms to fill where you can tick the skills and abilities you would like to have in your time on earth.

Of course I ticked all the right ones - rakishly good looks, sharper-than-a-scalpel intellect, Greek God-like athleticism. However, I probably should have included the 'careful/precise' as one more skill to keep in my time here on earth. So when I ticked 'Babe magnet' without a thought,  I saw God giving a small smirk. Evidently, He has a cruel sense of humour as I missed seeing that the 'babe' was actually 'baby' and there was a microscopic asterisk pointing to a terms and conditions page.

And it came back to hound me (yet again) as I took my place in a plane ferrying me from Bangalore to Delhi yesterday. Congratulating myself on getting a seat where no one else seemed to be coming, I settled back, snapped my seat belt and fired up my Kindle to read Kim. Almost immediately I had a little nudge on my shoulder as a young couple with a young child stood looking to enter. Now when I say young child, I mean of the bawling-baby variety. And once the couple settled in their hundreds of bags, wipes, bottles, sippers, rags, and all the other paraphernalia, I woke to a fact that I hadn't noticed earlier.

My baby magnetism was at full sway. The entire plane was loaded with babies on every third seat!  
And these babies are hyper-competitive. As the plane taxied I found out all the possible competitions they indulge in. Awards were being contested for in multiple categories -

  • Loudest baby
  • Shrillest baby
  • Most annoying twerp
  • Most strategic crier (just as you're about to sleep)
  • Most consistent crier
  • Asymmetric crier (they don't settle in any pattern - every cry is a surprise)
As you can imagine not a very relaxing journey. 

And now I fill forms out very very carefully. A smirk seems to float around me, and a rather amused, holy voice whispers "Too late, too late, too late..."