I cannot recollect who exactly said this. Maybe Thomas Hardy. Or is it Thomas Paine? Being the cautious fellow that I am and having learnt my bitter lessons about the effects of overspending during my laboured march through life, I use only a small fraction of the trillions of brain cells at any time. Leaving my doubts aside, we shall settle on Thomas Paine. What did he say? That’s the crux of the matter. In the modern times, we are all so used to long digressions that we miss the main point but I am adept in coming back to my main theme no matter how far I stray from it. Digressions make a subject lively provided you don’t overdo it and you can effortlessly come back to the main theme. It is also essential that a link is established between the main theme and the digressions. I have seen people like Kripananda Warrier lacing their discourses with numerous anecdotes that would keep the audience rolling on the floor no matter what the subject matter of their discourse was. It could be Sarirathrayam or Awasthathrayam but their anecdotes would have strong link to their chosen subject. In my younger days, the highly paid upanyasaks were those who had a huge repertoire of anecdotes which drew crowds like the exotic flowers of the Valley of Flowers would draw the bees. The rest had to necessarily perform for a Thengamoodi as remuneration! The problem with some of us is that the digressions won’t have any relevance to the main topic and there will be so many digressive stories that the subject is totally lost sight of. There are speakers and writers who want to lace their stuff with a lot of humour and end up making it just a loose string of disjointed anecdotes. They can not get back to their subject without external help, which may range between a gentle nudge in the ribs to a firm rebuke. What I am trying to tell you is that digressing is an art which has to be meticulously performed. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the saying of Thomas Whoever. His saying goes something like this. “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value” This saying of Thomas Paine is very true particularly in the Indian context. How often we go to a Departmental Store for buying something and tell the salesgirl after seeing the array of things ‘Don’t you have something more expensive?’ Our search for expensive things may not only arise out of our desire to impress the cute salesgirls but we always tend to think that more expensive things are always of better value. We even go to such extremes that we pay deliberately a higher price for things at upmarket shops as if the expensive shops impart higher value to things sold by them. It is our firm belief that inexpensive things have to be necessarily of poor quality. The irony is that a manufacturer of a quality product cannot sell it if he makes it available at a throwaway price. In my younger days, the Moore Market was a place where you could get vintage stuff but a very unfair comparison used to be made between it and the Spencer’s. We have a tendency to view with suspicion at any good thing offered to us at a minimum cost. This applies to even matrimonial market. If a versatile youngman, who could be a dream son-in-law to have, says he does not want to accept any form of dowry, we become highly suspicious of his credentials and work overtime to enquire about his antecedents!