55-er: The Story of Life

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Birth.
Stumbling, Learning, Rapid Growth.
School, Friends.
Ambition, Effort, Achievement.

Decision.
College, Competition.
Friends for Life, Enemies.
Infatuation. Lust. Mistaken for Love.

Employment.
Stumbling, Learning, Growth.
Survival, Slackening of principles.

Marriage, True Love, Parenthood.
A life together.
Stumbling, Learning, Improvement.

Position.
Less Stumbling, Less Learning.

Status.
Ego, Stagnation, Decline.

Dusk.
Reflection, Regret, Helplessness.

Death-bed.
Realization.
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Like most of my 55ers, this one too, does not conform to the definition of 55 fiction. It is just an out-of-the-blue idea I had – to try to fit the entire story of life into 55 words.

Laws of the Jungle

I've always loved animals, for more reasons than I can recall at the moment. One of the things I like about animals is that since they don't possess the “intelligence” that we great humans have, they are also genuine and unpretentious. No double-standards, and generally fair (or so I believe).

There are, however, a couple of laws of the animal kingdom which we humans shun. Or do we, really?

The fight for females
Anybody who watches Animal Planet genre of programs on television would tell you that if there's one thing common to all animals, it is that the males, when they reach mating age, fight it out with other males and “earn” the right to mate with the eligible female(s). And no, this has nothing to do with The War For Women. This is what evolution is about.

Sacrifice of one for the sake of the herd
One zebra or two fall prey to the crocodiles while crossing the river; but that is precisely why the herd can complete its migration.
One deer is snapped up by the lionesses in the African bush, but that allows the rest to move on in search of pastures.
That's what “survival of the fittest” means.

How does the civilised human society take to these rules? Do we shun them? Or do we, consistent with the human trait of double-standards, shun them openly but widely adopt them anyway, albeit secretly?

The Honk is Mightier than the Soul

Scene 1
I'm driving to work. At a right angle turn ahead of me, a motorcyclist bends a little too much, loses his balance and falls, face first; his bike lying a few feet away.

My first instinct is to stop my car and open the door. I plant one foot on the road, thinking about the biker. Is he hurt? How bad? Which is the nearest hospital I can take him to, just in case?

Suddenly, I become aware of relentless honking from behind me. Few drivers have poked their heads out the windows. Some are gesturing to me, some are yelling at me. By now a few passers-by (mainly pedestrians) have already reached the fallen biker and have started helping him up.

I take a look at the angry drivers, then at the hurt person, then back at the now fuming drivers; get back in the car and continue driving. A pang of guilt keeps popping up in my mind for the rest of the day but I keep brushing it aside.


Scene 2

Few months later. A couple on a motoscooter. The guy is riding – in his hurry to jump the signal, he fails to spot the car about to cross paths with him. He applies the brakes at the last moment, loses his balance and they both have a hard fall. He's clutching his knee, she's placing a hand on her cheek, wincing.

This time, there are not only cars behind me, but also buses and lorries. I glance at the hurt couple for only a fraction of a second and continue driving, without even bothering to slow down this time. I look in the rear-view mirror and am relieved to see that there are people helping them and that they are up on their feet. Looks like they aren't too badly hurt.

The pang of guilt revisits. Again, I dismiss it saying there's nothing I could do. I wasn't my fault. But deep inside I know that's not true.
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We live in a busy world. No one has time for anything. We don't even want to make way for ambulances because if we do, we might miss the green signal.

But you know something's gravely wrong when you see a fellow human being in pain and you are not even in a position to stop and help, lest you want to face an army of irritated drivers behind you who are in a perpetual state of hurry.

55er: The Beggar and the Stray Dog


She was loitering on the footpath, her tatters barely covering her body.
Her facial expression fluctuated between passive and resigned.
A street dog approached her. She started petting and cuddling the stray.
Then, she carefully produced a piece of bread from somewhere in her rags, and without second thought, gave it all to the dog.
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This post doesn't conform to all the rules of 55-word fiction

  • There's no conflict
  • There's no solution
  • And it isn't even fiction. I saw this unfold in front of my eyes from a bus window on hot afternoon in Bangalore.


This incident reminds me of another one. I saw a child beggar offered some fruit by a passer-by. The first thing she did was to call out to her siblings who were scattered around begging for alms among the motorists waiting at the signal. Only after they ate did she!

Are those who have the least, the ones who share the most?

55-er: Small Problem, Big Problem

This signal's so crowded even at 9pm”
Hmm”
Must be pathetic during peak hour”
True”
Thank God I use public transport. Don't know how I'd cope with driving through this mess”
[Half-smile]
BTW, I'm a shopkeeper on my way to a friend's wedding”
[Expectant Pause]
And I'm a city bus driver going home from work.

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We always consider ourselves to be neck-deep in trouble.  And think we're the most unfortunate souls. Until we across someone who's in it all the way up to the forehead. What say?

This post draws inspiration from an old ad-film that used to be aired on TV some 5-6 years back. It was issued by the National Association for the Blind. It was about a man walking down the stairs in a building when there is a power cut. The man bumps into another man and starts cribbing about the darkness. Only when they reach outside does the first fellow realise that the man he bumped into is blind.

I couldn't find the video anywhere online. If you do, please let me know.

Extreme Formality in Internet Communications

The Law:

Ninety percent of all communication that traverses the internet is utter waste. Of the rest, 90% is still utter waste.”

That's what “Kiran's Recursive Law of Network Communications” states. I have actually derived a complex equation involving variables which range from electromagnetic to social to cultural to psychological (even hormonal) to postulate this theory. However, in order to protect my ambitions of winning a Nobel Prize for this work, I shall not publish that equation here.

But, this conclusion did not come to me in my dreams. No, sir. Just like Sir Isaac Newton arrived at the theory of gravity after an apple fell on his head; my theory too formed itself slowly, after a couple of events acted as trigger to its formation.

I hereby provide a sneak-peek at the deeply scientific and methodical approach that led to what will soon be regarded as one of the greatest postulates of the 21st century. I shall disclose 2 of the events that led to the formation of the theory.

The Instant Messenger Syndrome.

This is what a typical chat session on my company's internal IM looks like. Observe how there are only 4 lines in this conversation that are actually of any use whatsoever.

Colleague: Hi Kiran
Me: Hi [Colleague]
Colleague: Good Evening
Me: A very good morning to you too. [If the colleague is in a different time zone]
Colleague: How are you today?
Me: I'm doing good, thanks. How about yourself?
Colleague: Ah, [something about weather, the weekend camping expedition or NBA].
Me: Oh that's great (and a grinning smiley in order to not appear disinterested)
Colleague: BTW Kiran, I had a couple of question about [technical topic]. Do you have a couple of minutes?
Me (Haven't I already spent more than a couple of minutes in small-talk?): Sure [colleague], go ahead.
Colleague: [One-liner-question-1]?
Me: [Monosyllabic-answer-1]
Colleague: [One-liner-question-2]?
Me: [Monosyllabic-answer-2]
Colleague: Great, I've got all the answers I was looking for. Thanks Kiran.
Me: Anytime/[or welcome/ywc/sure/nps]
Colleague: I'l get back to you if I have any other issues.
Me: Sure.
Colleague: TTYL
Me (#$%^).


If not cured, this disease might manifest itself in the following form in a short span of time:

Employee 1 (E1): Hey Employee2, do you have a few minutes?
Employee 2 (E2): Sure E1, tell me.
E1: Hey, I had a doubt. If you are not busy right now, do you mind if I send you a query by email?
E2 ($%^&): Oh sure, no problem.

E1 will then send an email to E2; to which E2 will respond within 100 seconds and 100 characters.
5 minutes later:
E1: Hey E2, have a minute?
E2 (exasperated): Yes E1, go ahead.
E1: Hey, just wanted to thank you for answering my doubt over email
E2 (WILL-YOU-SHUT-THE-HELL-UP-AND-ALLOW-ME-TO-WORK-DAMMIT): Anytime E1.

The Twitter effect:

Once I re-tweeted a tweet from one of the persons I follow. It turns out that almost a dozen other people had re-tweeted the same tweet too. And this lady replies to all in a single tweet thanking them for the RTs.

Lady: @one @two @three @four @five @six @seven @eight @nine Thanks for the RT on the [something] tweet

And what happens next? One of the guys who was thanked actually responds to EVERYONE welcoming the lady!!!

Three: Anytime @Lady. @one @two @three @four @five @six @seven @eight @nine Thanks for the RT on the [something] tweet

Do you believe that? It's not long before we see a tweet like this:

Oneguy: @Otherguy, thanks for thanking me when I thanked you for thanking me back after I thanked you for RT'ing me.

The Applications:

You think that this law is pure theory and has no practical application? Think again. This theory leads to the ultimate solution to all the network bandwidth problems the world is facing. The solution is this:

Ban the use of formality in internet communications – especially formal communications.”

Oh it's OK. No standing ovation please. I accept all the praise for this stunning scientific achievement in all humility. There really is no need to name a unit of measurement after me.

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Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.