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What is your pointless?

Recognising what is relevant in any discourse, and identifying what is central to an issue; it is this pathological inability to do so that has us where we are positioned today — teetering on a rickety, three-legged chair perched atop the crumbly edge of a cliff.

Recognising what is relevant in any discourse, and identifying what is central to an issue; it is this pathological inability to do so that has us where we are positioned today — teetering on a rickety, three-legged chair perched atop the crumbly edge of a cliff.   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

Meet the detourist, the derailer, the tangentist, the misguider, the obfuscator, the master of the irrelevant

I was at a funeral the other day. As funerals go, it was my favourite kind: someone else’s. (An old uncle-type, in this case.) And, unlike my old friend Ranjit Kadiresan, who belongs at such events, and takes over everything, from survivor-cuddling to immersion of ashes, I don’t do funerals well.

Just as I was about to say something carefully worded, hopefully sympathetic and relevant to the principal bereaved, I was waylaid by this gent. His name doesn’t matter. From funerals to fund raisers, from interviews to interventions, he and his kind are everywhere in our bewildering land.

He’s the detourist, the derailer, the tangentist, the misguider, the obfuscator, the master of the irrelevant.

‘Hey, guess what?’ he said, as I gingerly approached the aunt-type who had lost her husband of 43 years. ‘My second daughter has the exact same spectacle frames you’re wearing! Except she doesn’t wear progressives. And you do, lol.’

Trust me, such a conversation never ends there. There is always a fellow-confounder, or three, lurking behind the metaphorical bushes.

‘Did you buy it online?’ piped up Confounder. ‘I always buy my frames at the showroom. It’s a bit more expensive, but the quality is better.’

‘Which one?’ said Derailist. ‘The one on St Mary’s Road? Or the other one... near Madhya Kailash?’

Tangentist saw his opening and slid in effortlessly.

‘Man, did you see the sinkhole at Madhya Kailash yesterday?’

You get the picture — there was one to begin with, if you remember. It was a sombre picture of a woman who had lost her husband of 40-odd years. Now, it was being scribbled over with crayons by monkeys on Red Bull.

You can spot the misdirector frequently on social media. True, 99% of what’s on it is someone feeling #blessed, #awesome or #humbled, or all three at the same time, but once in a while, you’ll have some poor sod trying to make a timely, necessary point. And, lo, detourist, derailer, and tangentist move in like... well... Mick Jagger.

I’m not talking about trolls, by the way. Those are fine folk, doing a job they are paid to do with dedication. Misspelt, ungrammatical dedication, perhaps, but dedication nonetheless. I speak of my average countryman.

What baffles me is that these assassins of the apposite run amok among the educated. How did these guys ever pass an exam of any kind, I wonder.

Question: If three workers took four days to build a wall six metres high (of the same width), how many workers would it take to build a wall eight metres high in five days?

Answer: ‘Walls... hmmm... I wonder why they say walls have ears. I’ve never seen a single wall that has ears. Lol! Ears... That reminds me, I need to see the ENT guy. There is some green slime coming out of my left ear. Slime reminds me of that Manikandan, genuine slimeball, he is. Wants his money back? He’s got a bloody hope. Hope... gimme hope, Joanna, gimme hope... what a song that was...’

Recognising what is relevant in any discourse, and identifying what is central to an issue; it is this pathological inability to do so that has us where we are positioned today — teetering on a rickety, three-legged chair perched atop the crumbly edge of a cliff.

What is the point? Well, recognising what the point is. That, sigh, is the point.

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a satirist. He has written four books and edited an anthology.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 10:44:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/what-is-your-pointless/article28097723.ece

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