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Published in:
Outlook Money
Outlook Traveller
The Indian Express
Assorted: Chess stories
Assorted: Humour

Pico Iyer
'Tiger' Pataudi
Anita Ratnam

The Chennai Music Season
Leh Diary
Dhar: 'Middle Kingdom'

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The Two Things Theory

By V. Venkatesan

I CAN tell, almost down to the precise moment, when the Meaning of Life was revealed to me. It was at high school, in the middle of a geometry class when my maths tutor, who perhaps felt that young minds needed more than just squares on hypotenuses and other such mathematical mumbo-jumbo to broaden their horizons, propounded the Two Things Theory.

"Some of you may be complete idiots," he said, looking pointedly at me for some unfathomable reason, "but it is an established fact that every human being is good at at least two things. It's for each of you to find out what two things you are good at... That's what life's all about."

From then on, life for me and my fellow-morons became one long quest for the Two Things. We sought it with the ardour of so many Arthurs on the trail of the Holy Grail, and before long, we had more or less stumbled on it.

One of my classmates, for instance, acquired some distinction as the best table-top drummer and kite-flyer. Another became renowned for the precision of his aim while stoning mangoes from trees, and the ridiculous ease with which he could unfailingly fall ill, come exam-time.

As for me, if there's one thing I'm reasonably good at, it is the imitation of the mating call of bullfrogs, a skill I acquired after many hours of diligent exercise of my vocal cords during weekend visits to the country. Perhaps because I am a naturally gifted mimic with a rich, resonant baritone voice, some of that old magic lingers to this day. Even now, after a spell of showers, it only needs a solitary amphibious mating call from me to set off a chorus of amorous croaks in the bushes.

But try as I might, I have not been able to figure out what the second thing I excel in is. I tried my hand at public speaking, but the profusion of rotten tomatoes I inevitably attracted told me that that wasn't it. Desirous of leaving no stone unturned, I even enrolled for a dog-trainer's course, but I was clearly barking up the wrong tree: all I gained from that enterprise were canine teeth-marks in some tender parts of my anatomy.

There's one thing, though, that I haven't tried yet: playing the commodities market. I have therefore resolved to begin in right earnest and remedy this situation. And if the Two Things Theory holds good and I exhibit some hitherto-dormant ability to make pots of money, who knows, I might be a very rich man before I die. Or should I say, before I croak. n

(Published in Business Line.)


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