Belief: Celestial Conversations - XXI

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Prayers and Art: Celestial Conversations - XX
God: Hello
Me: Hi!
God: So, did you do anything interesting recently?
Me: Oh. I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
God: Ah. On Discovery Channel?
Me: No, no! This is a movie, and is based on a radio show and a five-part trilogy by Douglas Adams.
God: Five-part Trilogy?
Me: It's complicated. But it's funny.
God: If you say so.
Me: It's quite nice.
God: So, this Douglas Adams chap.
Me: Yes?
God: Is he any good?
Me: He was, yes. Very good.
God: Was?
Me: He died a few years ago.
God: Oh. May I bless his soul.
Me: Amen.
God: I think I'll try to pick up one his books at the library.
Me: Uh, You might not like his writing all that much.
God: Why? You just said he was very good.
Me: Well he was an atheist.
God: So?
Me: That means he doesn't believe in God.
God: And?
Me: You're God.
God: I happen to be quite aware of that particular fact.
Me: And it doesn't bother You?
God: Why should it bother Me?
Me: Why wouldn't it bother You if someone doesn't believe You exist? In fact, Douglas Adams gave this long lecture once, about how he was convinced that You don't exist.
God: Would it bother you if someone somewhere stood up in the middle of a classroom and tried to convince everyone that you don't exist?
Me: Um... Probably not. In fact, I think I'd find it funny.
God: Same here.
Me: Interesting.
God: I don't have the slightest problem with atheists. They're a very amiable sort. It's the theists that I have trouble with.
Me: Hunh?
God: I'm not kidding.
Me: And why would You say that?
God: Because it's true! Atheists don't go around killing people in your name. Atheists don't blame you for everything that's wrong in the world.
Me: But atheists kill people too.
God: Not any more than theists. But at least they don't say it's for My sake.
Me: Surely, it's not all like that...
God: Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because a six year old child was praying to you to make his father stop beating him?
Me: Uh...
God: Have you ever had anyone pray to you to make their pain from chemotherapy stop?
Me: Um...
God: Did you know that almost every hitman says a silent prayer for forgiveness right before or after he makes a hit?
Me: Er...
God: Do you know how helpless it can feel to not be able to be able to feed a family of seven, after the father - the only earning member - died after being run over by a truck, all because of the policy of non-interference?
Me: I guess not.
God: It can be quite hard to be Me.
Me: I'm sure I can't imagine how hard.
God: I wish I could do something. But changing one thing today, changes an infinite number of things in the future. Moving a pin from one side of a desk to the other side, means billions of people who will never be born.
Me: I've read about that kind of thing. I believe the chaos theory is all about stuff like that.
God: You people have come up with a theory about chaos?
Me: I guess so.
God: Human beings never cease to amaze me.
Me: Well, it was You who created us.
God: I did no such thing!
Me: So You're still sticking to that story?
God: Story?
Me: That the universe just happened, and that it wasn't Your fault?
God: That's not a story.
Me: Fine.
God: Good. But tell me, what about you?
Me: Me?
God: Yes, you. Do you believe in Me?
Me: Um... er... Oh! Look at the time, will You? I had better go now!
God: Oh, okay. Good night then.
Me: Good night.

Next: Stop! Thief! : Celestial Conversations - XXII

We don't need no discrimination

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Sticking to fiction kills a blogger's blogging frequency. No? I think so.

Are numerical digits any different from letters of the alphabet? Weren't all ASCII characters created equal? Don't all of them occupy the same number of bits? Isn't 'W' just as long to a computer as '1'? Would you buy a keyboard with a missing 'E' over one with a missing '0' (zero)?

What is this discrimination for, then? Why do these royal 'numbers' get to parade on a keyboard over the common lot of the 'letters', then? Is Mathematics any more important than English? How would you say three thousand seven hundred and sixty nine, if you didn't have language?

How would you sign a cheque? How would Milton talk about Paradise Lost? How would Shakespeare say 'Hamlet'?

Is equality only for the sexes then?

What's the point of all this?

Oh, nothing. I'm just sleepy.

Prayers and Art: Celestial Conversations - XX

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
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First: Celestial Conversation
Previous: Bye, Mom! Bye Dad!!: Celestial Conversations XIX

God: Hello.
Me: Hi! So what have You been up to?
God: Oh, quite a lot, actually. We're working on getting that new school up and running.
Me: Ah, that must feel nice.
God: Yes, it does. It's been quite a long time since I've involved Myself personally in helping out.
Me: Really?
God: Yes, quite a long time. The last time I personally did something to help someone, was when I taught Leonardo to sketch.
Me: Da Vinci???
God: No, of course not! He's the one who taught Me to paint. I meant Di Caprio.
Me: What?
God: For that movie he did about that ship that sank.
Me: The Titanic?
God: Ah, yes. That's the one.
Me: You taught Leonardo Di Caprio how to sketch for that movie?
God: Well, I tried. I'm supposed to be the best teacher there is, but Leo was not a very good student. I heard that the director finally decided to do the sketch himself.
Me: Do You have any idea what the sketch was of?
God: No, unfortunately not. I got bored and left early.
Me: Good.
God: Good?
Me: Oh nothing, nothing! So, You watch movies?
God: I try to. I find the whole idea of movie-making quite interesting.
Me: You do?
God: Oh yes! Fiction, theatre, movies - they're all a wonderful concept that you people have come up with. It's a celebration of the act of lying. Human beings are really quite a strange species, don't you think?
Me: Um, I guess we are.
God: Oh, you definitely are. There was this guy I used to talk to, a few hundred years ago. His name had something to do with milk-shakes.
Me: Milk-shakes?
God: Yes. It was a strange name. Anyway. So he's the one who explained the concept to Me. It's quite simple, really. You start with a small lie, build a large number of lies around the first one, and keep going until you get bored. That's fiction. Act it out, and that's theatre. Capture it on film, and that's movies.
Me: Interesting definitions there.
God: Oh, you must take My word for it. He explained it quite clearly. He even made Me write a few stories just to make sure I understood how it worked.
Me: Really? What did You write?
God: Oh, nothing special. Very amateurish stuff. There was one about this young couple who fell in love, but their parents wouldn't let them get married. So they killed themselves.
Me: Umm...
God: And one about a pair of twins - a girl and a boy. Both of them were cross-dressers.
Me: Er...
God: That one was a bit ahead of its time.
Me: Yes, but -
God: And there was one about these three women who used to meet for a cup of coffee around this cauldron in the middle of the jungle, and give people bad advice. The wife of one of the guys who took their advice got OCD.
Me: OCD?
God: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She kept wanting to wash her hands.
Me: That's -
God: Yes, like I said, quite amateurish.
Me: I won't even ask. But You were saying that Leonardo Da Vinci taught You to paint?
God: Yes. But I must say I wasn't very good at it.
Me: You weren't?
God: No. I tried painting a portrait of this woman once. I could never get her face right.
Me: Oh.
God: Yes. I kept getting the smile wrong. It looked hideous.
Me: You -
God: Oh it was an embarrassment. I believe it even hung in someone's bathroom for sometime.
Me: You painted -
God: Oh, look at the time! I must be going now. We're taking admissions for the school.
Me: Oh, okay.
God: Bye!
Me: Hey, God.
God: Yes?
Me: Wanted to say one thing before You left.
God: Yes?
Me: Don't take this the wrong way.
God: Go ahead.
Me: Well, a friend of mine is going into surgery today.
God: Oh.
Me: I just wanted to... um... I hope it all goes fine.
God: Oh.
Me: You don't have to reply to what I'm saying.
God: Okay.
Me: Prayers sometimes get answered, but they tend not to be conversational.
God: Right.
Me: So, I'm just praying that it go well.
God: Right.
Me: That's all I wanted to say.
God: Okay.
Me: Um... I'll be going now.
God: Right. Right. Me too. Lots of stuff to do.
Me: Bye, then.
God: Bye.

Next: Belief: Celestial Conversations - XXI

Wanna Credit Card, Sir?

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Megha wrote a post about the Amway problem yesterday, and it reminded me of something similar that happens a lot back home in India. Since I haven't posted anything here in a long time, and I thought readers of this blog might be interested in reading the contents of my comment there, I decided to recycle it (more or less) on this blog -

Unlike a number of other unfortunate souls, I've not been bitten by the Amway pest that much. I guess I did meet some chap in a Barnes and Noble, once, who was trying to interest me in something. But I wasn't paying much attention, and he - unlike what I've heard of others of his breed - wasn't much of a conversationalist.

But then I have an uncle who dabbled in this Amway thing once too. So I've seen the super-fantastic-toothpaste and the extra-strong-cleaning-solution that can clean the paint off your walls.

In India, though, specially if you are in a plastic-happy city like Bangalore or Chennai, it's probably more common to get accosted by ICICI and Citibank Credit Card agents. The first few months when this started, everytime I exited an ATM or walked out of the office campus, a guy wearing an almost crisp white shirt with tie, and navy blue trousers (alright, sometimes they were brown), would accost me. Here's a sample of the conversation that would follow -

Agent: Sir, can I take a moment of your time?
Me: Hmm?
Agent: Sir, I'd like to interest you in this free credit card from ICICI. You have to pay nothing, sir. And this card is accepted in 2593 stores, restaurants and theatres across chennai. Plus you get discounts and special offers every few months. So would you like to apply for a card now, sir?
Me: No.
Agent: It'll only take two minutes sir. I have the form ready right here. So what's your name, sir? (pen poised over the form, to complete the application most efficiently)
Me: I don't need another credit card.
Agent: It's free sir. So, what is your name, sir?
Me: I don't care if it's free. I already have a credit card.
Agent: But everyone has multiple credit cards nowadays, sir! And this is a Gold card. And it's free! Your name, sir?
Me: I don't care what other people do, I don't need another card.
Agent: We are giving you a Visa card sir. And ICICI has the most ATMs all over India. You can even withdraw cash using the credit card. (He tells me this after watching me walk out of an ICICI ATM).
Me: I already have an ICICI Debit card!
Agent: This is a Credit Card, sir.
Me: I already have a credit card, I don't need another one! And I don't have the time to argue about this anymore. I'm leaving.
Agent: It's very good, sir. It'll only take two minutes. Please sir!

and so on.

Now, when I'm back in India -

Agent: Sir, I'd like to interest you in this free credit card from ICICI. You have to pay nothing, sir. And this card -
Me: Thanks, but I already have an ICICI Gold credit card that is accepted all over the country inc;uding 3428 locations all over Chennai, and another 12863 locations in Bombay, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Agent: Is it a Visa card, sir?
Me: Yes.
Agent: You can get one more, sir. MasterCard this time. And you can have your photograph on it.


Atleast these Amway/Quixtar chaps aren't so whiny... Or are they?