Sunday, January 01, 2006

An annual meeting

“So, you really don’t believe in absolute anything? I mean, everything in this world is relative and all that”?, I asked him a little disbelievingly.
“Well, Absolut Cranbrerry is ok with me, and maybe a few other flavours, but yeah, most other things, no, nothing absolute for me, thank you”, he replied, making light of my question.
I threw him my best withering look, which was wasted, because he just wouldn’t catch it. Still, I didn’t give up. “So everything in this world is relative, and I can just get up here and take this sharp knife and slit your throat, and that’s ok?”
“Well, not really, because that would be inconvenient for me, and quite messy. A lot of blood and all that. You don’t want to see that, believe me. Besides, I have a world to think of. So yeah, not convenient at all, but beyond that, it all depends.”

“Depends on what?”I was irritated now by all this relativity talk. In my opinion, things are always a lot simpler than what most people would like them to be. But ask most people, and no, they won’t admit it. They will rub their noses and scratch their ears and give themselves the most thoughtful airs before saying, it’s a most complicated affair. Complicated, my foot. It just makes them feel more important. I mean, who ever got the nobel for writing a book that could be understood easily?
He got up now with some effort, his thick corduroy trousers and tweed coat giving him the appearance of a man who is dressed for winter. It was most incongruous in the mild Madras winter with its twenty-eight degree chill. Going to the small study opening on to the right, he came back with an old-fashioned globe on a wooden stand. I was obviously going to be treated to a demonstration of some sort.

“You see this side of the globe”, he pointed to the part facing me, and explained slowly as though to a first-standard child. “Here is India, and to the east you can see all those small countries, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, so many of them I forget their names. Then China, and then further, Japan. And to the west of India lies Europe and then Africa and last the Americas. Always, Asia is the east, and Europe West. But just imagine, if the ones to make the first globes and the first to conquer the others had been the Asians, then I wouldn’t call Asia the east. I would look to see what is east of me, and that is what I would tag East. I wouldn’t call myself east. Just tilt the globe around, and everything changes. Everything is east of something, something is west of everything.”

It was confusing and took time to understand, but the man made some sense, I had to admit that. Still, it just didn’t tie in that he would be so funnily dressed. And his shoes! What was he thinking of! He wore knee-high boots in a shiny kind of leather, his trousers tucked into them. It didn’t even look genuine.
“Where did you get those from”, I asked him, looking at the shoes. “Is it very cold where you come from?”
“You could say that, I suppose”, he answered with a sly grin, “though I like to think that its more to do with fashion”. If this is what his fashion sense amounted to, I wasn’t too sure about his judgement on other things. Also, what if it was all just a ploy to excuse himself from any kind of responsibility. This way, he could just blame everything on relativity and scoot. Ofcourse there was a bright side to it.

“If everything is relative, then it doesn’t matter at all, that I am still not sure whether I am an atheist or an agnostic? And again, though it possibly doesn’t matter to me whether you exist or not, that too doesn’t matter, since your existence is relative?”That stumped him for a moment. In the end though, he had to agree to that and give me a truthful answer, although he gave it reluctantly, scratching the hairs on his beard sorrowfully. I consented not to stab him with my knife, and he consented to go away. I wished him a good new year and he wished me the same cordially. We agreed to meet again next year, when we would argue about something else.

5 comments:

Anjali said...

Lovely!

And a happy new year, apu.

the Monk said...

that was good...but tell me, the very act of observing itself changes the observed, according to Heisenberg...so how can things not be relative?

apu said...

tks, Anjali!

monk, i see your wisdom lives upto your name :)

Srihari said...

Hmm..nice. I have very similar daily meetings, instead of one grand annual meeting, and most things remain relative, all the same. Yawn..

TLW said...

I wld surely like to meet up with such a guy ;-) .....who knows may be on the same wavelength...I meant regarding the fashion statement ;-)