Archive | April 2012

RULE OF THE THUMB

The thumb is the first digit of the hand. It is also the most important digit as it goes by the Latin name ’digitus primus’. The opposable thumb has helped human species develop more accurate motor skills. It is also thought to have directly led to the development of tools, not just in humans but other primates as well. It is believed that walking (bipedalism) was preceded by the specialized precision gripping hand (equipped with opposable thumb), or in other words walking may have been a by-product of busy hands.

The kind of star status that the thumb enjoys can be seen in the number of proverbs, idioms and sayings that it is a part of-

Rule of thumb

Under one’s thumb

Thumbs up/ down

Thumbing your nose

Having a green thumb

Sticking out like a sore thumb

Twiddling your thumbs

Being all fingers and thumbs

It has also inspired some fairy tales that we’ve all read/heard as kids

Thumbelina, Tom Thumb –both stories had protagonists the size of a thumb

Wondering why this discourse on the Thumb? Well, a few days back I was rudely made aware of the importance of this digit. Last Saturday I woke up with a mild pain in my thumb. Dismissed it as just a morning thing thinking I might’ve somehow managed to twist it in my sleep. The pain however did not relent during the day and I loathe swallowing pills( and when I absolutely have to, I keep staring at it for minutes hoping my gaze will wither it and make it small) so I continued to ignore it. Was meeting friends in the afternoon and when with friends all pain is forgotten (the power of friendship). It was only when I was returning home with my husband, that the pain returned with a vengeance. The thumb was showing signs of puffing up with indignation for having been ignored for so long and turned red with anger and wouldn’t budge even with all the cajoling and the massages I administered to pacify it. Once home the task of cooking dinner suddenly seemed herculean as handling the knife or holding even a glass of water became painful. I was all ‘fingers and thumbs’ and I was now sure that I had somehow fractured my thumb and decided to make the most of all the fuss I could get coming my way. I had no option but to swallow the bitter pill and apply some cold compresses. The Thumb finally yielded to all the TLC, attention and fussing over. The pain subsided but not before it had strongly made a point about its importance.

So now I’m back to ‘twiddling my thumbs’. By the way, the story behind the proverb ‘Rule of Thumb’ is as interesting as it is amusing. Allegedly, in 1782 a British judge Sir Francis Buller ruled that a man may legally beat his wife, provided he used a stick no thicker than his thumb.

I would have given an absolute ‘thumbs down’ to this ruling as it put the woman under her husband’s thumb and would have ‘thumbed my nose’ at the judge. So there…

WOMEN WHO INSPIRE INDIA

The heading of this post is the tagline of a wonderful book that I’m reading currently.  I was browsing in a bookshop( one of my favorite occupations) when I happened upon this book in the non-fiction section. The title was ‘Leading Ladies’ penned by Sudha Menon.  For a moment I stood there, indecisive about picking up the book. When I did pick up the book, I turned a few pages, put it back on the shelf, moved on, then came back, looked at it some more and then on an impulse decide to buy it. And boy, am I glad I bought it.

The book is about the lives of some of the ladies who have achieved the impossible in the Indian corporate world.  The stories are not boring biographies but an insight into the minds and souls of these women who worked hard to achieve what they did, the motivation, inspiration and self belief that kept them going in a society that has always looked down upon women, in a society where women have to fight for their rights and their place under the sun.

I’d planned that I would wait till I finished the whole book then pick up one inspiring thought from each lady and write about it but half-way through I couldn’t wait any more so here I am with the first one.

This one comes from Meher Pudumjee– the chairperson of Thermax Ltd.

“do something to express and not to impress. If you enjoy what you do then it’s no longer a drudgery. When you do something for yourself that you are passionate about, the best will always come out.”  

How true is that? Happens all the time. We work hard to do something perfectly, spend time and energy, yet at times our creation lacks something that we cannot put our finger on. Something incomplete, as if the soul isn’t there. On the other hand when something flows from the heart, even though it may not be perfect technically, it strikes a cord with people, touches their heart and we are filled with a sense of accomplishment.

We’ve all experienced this some time or the other. Whenever we did anything under stress or pressure or half-heartedly, the results also have been below our own expectations.

Knew it always, but never gave it much of a thought. But while reading, the words ‘do something to express and not to impress’ simply jumped out at me and I wanted to share them with everyone.

Summing up- enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. Meanwhile I’ll look up and share more gems from our leading ladies in my coming posts.

DIDI DON’T DO

These days can’t open a newspaper without stumbling upon some news about the West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee  or Didi as she’s called by her party members and made popular by the media. The everyday dicktats  that have been pouring out of her office could be comical at best if they did not imply the serious undertone. I’m sure the people of Bengal feel it too. They got rid of decades of bad governance by a corrupt Communist government only to be replaced by a dictator in the garb of a democrat.

First the English dailies banned from public libraries, then a professor arrested for creating and circulating a cartoon and now the latest commandment-TMC members shall not mingle with CPM cadres at any personal level.(This could make for an interesting bollywood movie plot. Girl from CPM, boy from TMC. Loads of over the top drama, elopement to found their own party and maybe an item number thrown in for good measure and please don’t ask me to name a potential item girl because at present only one name is doing the rounds in my brain ;)).

The path Didi is treading would give Stalin a run for his money. Whatever the people of Bengal had hoped for and they did hope high, this wasn’t what they bargained for.

I do sympathize with Didi though. She won the elections with the people of her state rooting for her, for the dreams that she would turn to reality. She had and still has the opportunity AND the power to make it work for her and for the people of her state. She could’ve silenced her critics (and cartoonists) with her work and dedication, instead she chose to go with brute force. The people are protesting already and she seems unrelenting. Hope she gets herself a set of advisors with a better sense of administration AND humor and not just a bunch of sycophants.

It’s been rightly said-“with great power comes great responsibility”. The people have placed that power in her hands and the onus to handle it with responsibility now lies with her. The courageous leader that she is , I hope she doesn’t let her people down.

HOMO SAPIENS @ SUPERMARKETUS

Supermarkets are like the zoo. Normally frequented by the species Homo sapiens-sapiens but the environment of this place has such an effect on the DNA make-up of the species that once inside they show mutative changes and can be further sub-divided into sub-species. Listed below are some of those species that I’ve discovered so far.

  1.     Homo sapiens perfecticus-  this species will spend an agonizing amount of time to select the perfect piece of fruit or vegetable going to the extent of even examining every grape in a bunch. These people would willingly carry a microscope or an X-ray machine into the market if allowed.
  2.    Homo sapiens oblitricus- this species will cover the entire shelf with their bodies thus preventing its access to other people.
  3.     Homo sapiens hurricanus- need I explain that one?
  4.     Homo sapiens athleticus- this species shows high athletic abilities, running between the aisles, picking things up at high speed while on the move, balancing too many things in their hands and even managing a juggle show at times.
  5.     Homo sapiens crankerus- this species is always irritated, snapping at the attendants or the cashier. Also at other shoppers if anyone dares to step into their personal space even a tiny bit. It shows an expertise in creating a scene and drawing attention to oneself.
  6.    Homo sapiens familicus- this species comprises of an entire family. The main characteristic of this one is at least one of the children throwing a massive tantrum on the floor for a chocolate/ice-cream/ride in the cart.
  7.   Homo sapiens husbandsilenticus- this one comes in a pair. The husband part of the species always asks the wife’s permission before putting anything in the cart.
  8.   Homo sapiens cofusicus- this species(also sometimes in a pair) is always confused about the piece of fruit or vegetable to pick and will constantly seek advice from fellow shoppers. These are usually newly-weds who have only just started shopping groceries.
  9.    Homo sapiens Ps&Qsperous- this is a rare species, in fact endangered. The people of this species display the qualities of politeness and patience and general well-behavedness.
  10.   Homo sapiens husbandbillus- I happen to belong to this species. This one also comes in a pair. The wife part does all the grocery picking and cart filling, usually hurrying from shelf to shelf while the husband part waits at the check-out counter to pay the bill.

I heartily apologize if I have missed any but my quest for further discoveries will go on  and any further discoveries will be duly reported. Meanwhile feel free to add your own discoveries to the above list.