One thing that never ceases to amaze me, as it must you, if you've been following this jolly little autobiography of mine, is how easily I manage to continue to exist despite so obviously being a total loser. I have no doubt there would be a decent market for tips on how to do this - "Be a total loser and continue to exist" is the title that comes to mind ("12 straight weeks on the NYTimes bestseller list") - but the thing is, I don't have a clue. It seems incredible that I should have so many super-tolerant people around me. My parents. My sisters. The missus. The boys. A whole lot of friends. And you, dear reader, who, sacrificing valuable opportunities of increasing your wealth by obscene amounts, are reading this page.
Good. Got that off my chest. And now to recount the last weeks happenings.
The stellar part of my life these days is the interaction with the boys while teaching them.
The elder one is the more silent and decorous of the two. I think he feels that his dad is a pumpkin brain, but in a gentlemanly manner that I think he inherits from me, he keeps that opinion to himself. Usually, anyway. And he politely laughs at my jokes such as they are.
I came up with one when I was teaching him complex numbers. "a+ib is a complex number" I told him. "And?" he replied politely, because he knew that already
"And b12+i is a b-complex number"
"Hahaha" he replied "I think I'll go through the section on Complex Planes on my own". So much for levity in the teaching process.
The younger one, on the other hand, is clearly in awe of me. The reason is that I teach him economics. This is a subject towards which, thanks to the absurdly dense textbook they have, he has developed a healthy hatred. And I don't blame him.
Entrusted with the task of writing a textbook for ninth-standard students learning about economics for the first time in their lives, the rhetorically gifted chaps in charge of writing the textbook have done the prose in a style heavy enough to be employed in auditors' reports of public limited companies. James Joyce would read like the Brothers Grimm in comparison.
"An economy is a rather loosely defined term for any broad classification of interrelated productive activities such as farming, manufacturing and supply of a variety of services that people are ready to buy from markets at a price", they tell the tots, expecting rousing cheers at the revelation.
The son was extremely grateful when I explained it in terms of farmer, blacksmith and goatherd.
"Wow Annie! You know everything!" was his reaction.
"He believes I am the cat's pajamas as far as economics is concerned." I told myself. Pleased as punch I was and I'm sure no one will grudge me that reaction.
But things have a way of turning, if you know what I mean. I had occasion, this week, to explain what capitalism, communism, socialism and other isms which constitute political theory, meant. The lad listened in rapt attention.
I was floating. Rarely do I hold anyone's attention like this. It feels good. I can understand why Deepak Chopra and similar chaps go about saying things like 'realizing that our true self is one of pure potentiality and aligning with the power that manifests everything in the universe'. He knows he's talking rot, but the public is listening! Intoxicated by this, he continues and in no time is telling people that 'God's love is beyond death' and that 'one must do what one does because doing is what one must do when one does what one must'.
Which is why I waxed lyrical about communism, dragging in Animal farm, and generally "kicked ass" as my sons are fond of saying.
The missus confronted me later in the evening.
"What rot have you feeding Gautham?" she demanded.
"What did I do now?"
"He's going on about becoming a communist" she said, scowling.
"Yes. He's been telling me that communism is the only way and that he's all for it"
I meekly tried to defend myself.
"I was telling him how bad communism was and how it has failed around the world"
"Well, your rhetoric is evidently half-baked, Mr Ayn Rand. You need to polish your spiel" And with that unkind barb, she walked away.
Well, to cut a long story short, I engaged the lad in conversation later in the evening. It transpired that he hates his tuition classes and my statement that communism believed in a classless society had won him over to that ideology.
I hit my forehead with my palm, in a gesture popularly known on twitter as 'facepalm' or, among the more subtle, as 'manoj kumar' or simply 'manoj'.
Which, come to think of it, is how I spend most weekends.