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Why can’t biscuits be biscuits and tea be tea?

Arindam Mitra | Updated on April 25, 2021

A lockdown victim ponders over some imponderables

* As I dip my morning biscuit in it, inevitably, oh so inevitably, half of it breaks off into one soggy mushy mess in the cup

* Why can’t dogs, like their supposedly civilised human counterparts, do their howling during the day

* Why can’t we leave the research and analysis to the medics and experts, and concentrate on doing what needs to be done to keep ourselves and those around us safe?

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What an unnerving year has gone by, and the new one seems no better! The last 12 months have, compulsively and comprehensively, made us all believers in the old maxim that there is no place like home. But having been home-bound for most of the year, the lock-in has given me time to look hard at our daily days, and to consider and contemplate on so many daily happenings with the question — why can’t it be so? Why are some things the way they are?

The day starts with that wonderful brew — a hot cup of tea. As I dip my morning biscuit in it, inevitably, oh so inevitably, half of it breaks off into one soggy mushy mess in the cup — making me spend the next five minutes trying to fish out the muck — and the tea, of course, becomes a cold soup! Therefore, why can’t biscuits be biscuits and tea remain tea?

Then, I wonder why pigeons seem to know the complete geography of one’s house. I find that I spend half the day chasing after these supposedly “birds of peace” who invade the house and traipse all round leaving a mass of precious gifts all over. Therefore, why can’t pigeons, like all other self-respecting birds, stick to trees?

Also, have you noticed how well behaved your friendly neighbourhood strays are during the day — especially if you happen to feed them a tidbit or two — but come night, just when you fall asleep, they start their maniacal howling? Therefore, why can’t dogs, like their supposedly civilised human counterparts, do their howling during the day and, at night, as the saying goes (or doesn’t!), let sleeping humans lie?

I recently bought this fancy electronic gizmo. So, I sat down to unravel its mysteries by reading the nice operating manual which it came with. Now, I happen to be a technically proficient person with decades of knowledge and experience, but, believe me, I couldn’t make head or tail of the manual. Therefore, why can’t operating manuals be written simply and lucidly so it’s easy to get it in the noggin — a simple ‘to get this, do this’? (Remember “To stop train, pull chain”?)

And then I found something was not working so I called up the much touted “customer helpline”. Then listened to a disembodied computer generated monologue, kept punching numbers as asked and in the end managed to punch all numbers from 0 to 9 and back again without anything matching my issue and all I got was a thank you sms. Therefore, in a country with such multitudes looking for jobs, why can’t we talk to a real person and be able to explain our problems?

A little later I saw this kid staring glassy eyed at his text book — published by a very august body that makes all the textbooks for schools in the country. Perusing a few of them, I realised that they are written to actually put off the reader from the subject and also have a nice soporific effect. Therefore, why can’t we make textbooks that attract, interest, explain and actually make students like the subject?

So, after all the rigours and rigmarole, I decided to sit down, relax and watch TV. I checked a channel; it was going through a plethora of commercials, checked the next channel — commercials again. And in the next: Commercials, commercials, commercials. Therefore, why can’t the broadcast superpowers at least stagger commercial timings and give us loyal traditional TV viewers a break (pun intended)?

And, while winding up, I had a look at the news. After being bombarded with graphs and numbers, opinions and observations, efficacies and efficiencies — I called up a few people, heard agonising analyses and figured out that such disturbing and depressing things are better left alone. Therefore, why can’t we leave the research and analysis to the medics and experts, and concentrate on doing what needs to be done to keep ourselves and those around us safe?

For that matter, at the end of the day, why can’t we now stop talking of what can’t be?

Arindam Mitra is a freelance writer and former management/engineering consultant based in Ahmedabad

Published on April 25, 2021

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