a good feeling…

The worst thing is to forget the story. You know what I mean, don’t you? You are half asleep and there’s this magical tale that spins itself out just for you. You are excited, all caught up with the thought of putting it down on paper, plotting the characters, writing the dialogues, and setting up that intriguing climax. At that instant, you are supposed to wake up and jot down the outline before the apparition vanishes. That is what I normally do.

Such visions come rarely. If you are the travelling sort, they probably make their presence felt more consistently, but for a reasonably sloppy frozen-to- the- desk specimen as your truly, these things take their time.

And then I refuse to wake up. Imagine a greater tragedy than that? There goes the story never told before. You know it’s not coming back no matter how hard you try. And you can’t, but help feel wretched about it. Sunday was that way.


These days I only seem to be in between conversations. On the terrace and below it. In the office and outside it. People pull up their chairs, sit around the tables, and talk shop. I pull up mine too. But I have nothing much to say. They talk about people from their lives, people they have known intimately, people they have had a fleeting acquaintance with; so they connect, share the easy laugh, then move on to another common.


I laugh too, the easy laugh of one who gets the context, but was outside it when the said situation happened. Still I sit through, dropping in those odd jokes that don’t need a context.


Sometimes I think life is like the normal distribution. A neat bell shaped curve, where more often than not, things tend to drift toward the mean. The wise men always told us nature was symmetrical, that most phenomena that seem arbitrary are easily explained by the normal distribution. With nature that might be a good thing. A curious god-like intervention to carve symmetry and beauty into our lives.

With life itself, not so. I wish things wouldn’t drift toward the mean. I like the outliers. They are what make things interesting, they are what make the mean a worthwhile resting point. But when minutes, hours, days and months cluster around the mean, average if you will, the outliers loom like larger than life moments, attention that they don’t deserve to get.

The aim therefore of life ought to be to make that bell curve as broad as it can get, to cram enough into it, spread it out wide enough that even when things are clustered around the average, they are far more apart than the normal curve of most others.

Standard deviation is not just a statistical concept. It is what makes life a worthwhile pursuit. The bane of modern capitalism lies in the banishment of standard deviation, not just in the things we manufacture, but from our work lives itself.


Posted on September 8, 2003, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This is beautifully written, bu I still don’t get it… Me is really dumb.

    • Thanks da! Not sure what you don’t get! That was just random writing, so if u were trying to make sense of the whole thing, it wouldn’t, because i was talking of 3 different things.

      But if it’s about the normal distribution, i was just trying to say that if events in life are approximated as a normal curve, most events would fall close to the mid point of the distribution. and given that most days are quite like most others, an average life is rather boring. So even assuming a normal distribution, if we could lead our lives such that we cram more interesting events into it than currently, then the curve wouldn’t be a steep curve, rather a broad curve, which means two points on either side of the mean would be further apart than before. Basically, that since i am doing lots of different things, even if life is a normal distribution, regression to the mean shouldn’t make things boring.

      🙂 ok, that’s a convoluted explanation. Not sure if i explained it properly, but never mind.

  2. I like this… broaden the bell.

    But you know this is only partly about what you actually do differently and more about how you see the same thing differently.

    When I look at stuff.. be it ‘Arbit CP notes’ or ‘Snapshots’ I’m sort of mentally converting the mundane comments and events into a story that I can tell people about. I didn’t do that at Andersen and I got in such a rut I nearly felt like crying.

    But now I look at stuff and try in my mind to broaden the bell. Try it consciously for a coupla days… see if it makes a diff.

    • You are right, it would be great to see things differently. Unfortunately it isn’t turning out to be as easy to practice, at least in my case. But am not giving up yet.

      • Nooo… it’s impossible to see things differently just like that. Use hallucinogenics you dope (pun intended). That’s what I do… or couldn’t you tell?

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