Saturday, September 18, 2010

Still no country for Ekalavya

A picture, it is said, is usually worth a thousand words. I sometimes feel if that were literally true how much time and effort would have been saved for mankind by just displaying pictures to one another all the time instead of writing multiple paragraph emails explaining something. I recently read an article on Twitter that discussed the possibility of limiting any email to up to 3 sentences to avoid email overload. Not a bad idea, I felt. Except if the writer decides to get creative with where the full stop would go. Give Salman Rushdie this challenge and he might write an entire short story with just those 3 sentences! No wonder that verbose gentleman is not on Twitter.

But I digress. So the reason I mentioned pictures was because of the photo you see attached with this blog post. Yes, it is my thumb and yes, it is hurt. The cause for this injury, given the popularity of the spot, is a culinary incident involving a tricky knife. Whys and hows of the accident are quite irrelevant here. No sooner had a band-aid been placed to remedy the cut than it struck me of how invaluable the thumb was, is and shall remain. The only difference being, back in the days of royalty it was used to demonstrate mastery at shooting arrows while now we use it to, well, do pretty much everything from punch in the keys on our mobiles, game controllers and iPods to spacebars, gameboys and remote controls. Yes, the king of the human finger collection (with the middle finger being an interesting exception) seems to be the thumb.

The accident also reminded me of that popular tale from the Mahabharata where a lowly tribesman named Ekalavya gets so good at archery that he almost defeats the pampered poster boy of the Pandavas – Arjuna. Sly maharishi Drona then, having seen how invaluable the thumb would be for a million more generations, decides to ask Ekalavya to sacrifice just that as part of his guru dakshina – the thumb. This, of course, is a tale from another world but it made me wonder if something similar could take place in today's day and age. A dedicated student might definitely end up submitting his beloved mobile or mp3 player to honor his teacher but would never follow Ekalavya's example and slice off what appears to be the real trigger to all comfort in the world – the thumb (or any other finger for that matter).

This cross referencing of a thumb's critical role from the days of the Hindu epic till this day seemed like an interesting thing to explore. Now that I have done that, my next attempt would be to actually try and attempt the 3 sentence formula for an email the aforementioned article was recommending. Would be tricky at first, I am sure. But hey, I bet everyone were equally alarmed when Twitter said it was only going to allow 140 characters for a message! That is going pretty well so why shouldn't this catch on as well, isn't it? A definite thumbs up from me!


4 reflections:

Ashley said...

Twitter is for days when one just can't make the time to truly express oneself...

By the way, what were you cooking?

ShaK said...

@Asheley - I suppose that is true. Nothing like a burst of vented emotions on Twitter, eh. Although, I must admit it has grown into much more than that.

And regarding what I was doing when the incident happened, well, something without focus apparently. :)

Thanks for the words!


Nona said...

It is a struggle to limit the content in 3 sentences. "The shorter the better" is the mantra that makes us write effectively.

The thumb is very important! Wish you get well soon.

ShaK said...


Thumb is absolutely fine now, mate! :)