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"Advising, the national past time" by Varalotti Rengasamy

Discussion in 'Varalotti Rengasamy's Short & Serial Stories' started by Induslady, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. Induslady

    Induslady Administrator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    It is said that there are two types of fools in the world. Those who advise others fall into the first category and those who would not listen to such advice fall into the second. While it is easy to accept the first part of the saying, the second part is hard to swallow. Many have done well by not listening to the advice doled out to them by their critics, parents, friends and relatives.

    There are so many Type I fools in this country that one is tempted to designate advising a national pastime.

    The eight-year-old son of a family I know, used to spend most of his waking hours playing chess. His mother, herself a passionate chess player, instead of advising her son to cram up his lessons and get as many marks as possible, simply played along, and in this case, literally too. An uncle in the family was appalled on seeing this parental neglect and on a rainy Sunday twenty years back, rounded up the mother and the son for several rounds of advice. The long and short of that was, that life was not all about playing chess. It was getting marks, degrees, Government jobs, and ultimately financial security. Fortunately the mother and the son pair decided to ignore the Uncle. The boy did not fare well in his studies; and nor did he get any job. But today he is a reputed international grandmaster in Chess earning several hundred times what boys ‘who studied well and got good jobs’ might earn in their lifetime.

    Advising others, especially when it takes the form of deprecating others’ ideas, is an ego-massage one gives to one’s own bloated ego. When the Beatles auditioned for Decca Records in 1962 the company’s executive said ‘We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.’

    In 1977 Kenneth Olsen, the president and founder of Digital Equipment when asked advice about the use of computers at homes, said cryptically, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”
    The Head of 20th Century Fox had this beautiful advice about the future of Television way back in 1946:

    “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every month.” What a vision!

    At times even professional advice suffers from this total lack of understanding of the issues involved. The Newsweek of 18th November 1969 quoted the medical advice of a Los Angeles surgeon verbatim: “For the majority of people the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect.”.

    If so many great people can go so widely off the mark, then aren’t we tempted to try our hand in advising? Well here’s an exercise for you. This concerns the much argued abortion issue.

    A pregnant woman comes to you for advice. The issue: whether she should go for an abortion or not. The facts: She already has eight kids. Of them 3 are deaf, 2 are blind and one mentally retarded. Added to that the woman also has syphilis – a sexually transmitted disease. Will you advise her to abort her ninth kid who is now in her womb?

    Any one in her senses would simply scream to that woman to abort the child. Well if you also did so, remember you just killed Beethoven!

    (Published in DECCAN HERALD)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2006
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  2. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    More advice!

    Liked the end wherein the author mentions that we would have killed the genius Beethoven if we had screamed "abort". It's convenient to divide the world into two halves - the haves and the havenots/men and women/workaholics and shirkers and now Varalotti introduces the advisor and the adviced!
    Everyone doles out advice - but it's up to the listener to accept or reject. My friend's son, all of 7 years overheard his father saying "the country is going to dogs." When he repeated it in class his teacher fired him. So he said that he wants to know how to manufacture an eraser to erase the world and start all over again!
    Seemed to have missed this piece when it appeared in dh - glad that I got the chance to read it in IL.
    The photo shows Varalotti in a happy and relaxed mood.
    Cheers to the accountant writer!
    Sharada
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Quite Flattering!

    I was more afraid of my picture than the article. Now I feel happy to be endorsed by a person no less than Sharada.
    And thanks for the nice words you have about my article. The first two sentences of the article were borrowed from the great jurist the late lamented N.A.Palkhivala (and paraphrased). When he delivered his convocation address at the Bangalore University he said : There are two types of fools in this world; one, who advises others and the other, who will not listen to such advice. I will willingly fall into the first category with the fond hope that you will not fall into the second.
    Advising others is a kind of psychological problem, in some cases no less intense than a compulsive obsessive neurosis. I used to suffer from that problem from time immemorial and only after taking many painful antidotes, did I recover. Now I advise only when it is sought for. Now whatever I say has the required effect.
    I remember a touching incident where my friend's son came to me for advice. He had been failing in the CA exams for more than a dozen times. The boy was quite desperate. I told him that I passed CA in a previous birth (about 25 years ago) and hence not competent to advise him on the nature of preparation. However I can give my advice on one thing. I told him if you prepare for CA as if it were the only salvation in life, you are bound to fail. CA is just a career option amongst a million others. So if you fail for one more time just forget CA and focus on something else. And if this attitude takes root in your mind you will feel relaxed and whatever you write in the exam will not come out of your fear but from your knowledge and preparation. I don't know how, but the advice worked. I was moved to tears when the boy came to me with a box of sweets soon after the results were published.
    The accountants population rose by one and the population of the depressed fell by one.
    sridhar
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2005
  4. ambika ananth

    ambika ananth Bronze IL'ite

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    A good one Sridhar.Though the title has a ring of sarcasm, the importance of well-meaning advice comes out beautifully in the piece. Beethoven's example has two sides to it- the human approach and Medical. Rational and logical action should have been to abort the foetus considering the situation and mother's functional health, but some souls are born into this world defying all laws- no amount of advising for or against will help there...

    One father told his son- " you have to extend courtsey to others, they may not be gentlemen, but because you are a gentleman....!! Such important advices coming from parents and peers are very important.
    But one should be wise enough not to fall for wrong advice.
    A fine article..no wonder it got published in Deccan Herald...
    thanks
    ambika.
    ( Do I also compliment your picture...??? )
     
  5. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Ambika for the compliments

    Thanks Ambika for the nice words. Indiscriminatory advising and an unintelligent indifference to such advice - both are bad. There are some friends of mine who dole out advice as a matter of course. Any function they go they call up the chef to tell him that the recipe should be changed and that the menu is not all right. This article is directed against such people. Of course there are well-meaning advisors too. For instance when Sameer Bhatia wanted to start a dot com website, a young advisor working for his venture capitalists told him to start the first web-based mail. Hotmail was born. The rest is history.
    I don't know whether you complimented the picture or not. But if you did, it will be a little odd. For very few photographers would compliment their own pictures.
    thanks again,
    sridhar
     
  6. ambika ananth

    ambika ananth Bronze IL'ite

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    Varalotti,
    I expected a better repatee than that from you for my question " do I also compliment your picture". Any photographer, when the picture really 'clicks' will compliment himself/herself and thats nothing odd. When you said that you were trifle worried about your picture, none less than Sharada assured you that you look relaxed and happy....and thats a compliment to the photographer who has caught the mood right....anyways, you are a good writer with good looks as it looks....
    ambika
     

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