India Uncut

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Friday, January 28, 2005

Louder and louder

Imagine two people, Person A and Person B. No, that's too impersonal – let's call them Chunky and Monkey. Chunky and Monkey stay together – they might even be a couple, but I don't want to speculate – and they are watching TV together one evening. Their favourite show is on.

Then, a phone call comes for Chunky.

Chunky takes the phone, and starts talking. It is an important call, and Chunky cannot ask the person who has called if they can postpone their conversation. So Chunky talks.

As Chunky begins speaking, Monkey, naturally, lowers the volume. But Chunky keeps talking, and the show Monkey is watching reaches an important point, much awaited for weeks. Monkey raises the volume just a little bit to hear what's going on.

Chunky also starts talking just a little louder, out of necessity, because the TV volume just went up.

Because Chunky is now talking louder, Monkey is again unable to follow what's happening on TV. So Monkey raises the volume again.

That forces Chunky to speak louder. The TV volume goes up again, and Chunky talks louder and louder, until the TV volume is on max, Chunky is screaming, and the next door neighbour, an old man named Mr Joshi, gets an aneurism and dies.

Ok, so tell me this: whose fault is it?

Shhh, that was a rhetorical question. Forget Chunky and Monkey now, whose gender, you will note, I deliberately kept indeterminate. (I don't know, to be honest with you. Does it matter?) Instead, think about the phenomenon, of two people's responses to each other spiralling into an unstable situation. Isn't it a common one, that afflicts so many of our daily interactions? So many fights and conflicts I see around me are so unneccessary and – this is my point – nobody's fault.

Either Chunky or Monkey could have stopped the chain somewhere along the way. (No, not by Chunky throwing the phone at Monkey or Monkey hurling the remote at Chunky. You know what I mean.) Neither did. Mr Joshi is dead.
amit varma, 10:43 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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