Updates: The ‘Jai Vigyan?’ Column, the Captain, and Europe

Chikkoo?

A column by me titled ‘Jai Vigyan?’ appeared on NewsYaps a few days ago. Do give it a read to make sense of the rest of this blog post.

While I had anticipated some feedback, the article ended up on many more eyeballs than expected. At the onset, a few comments were in complete agreement and support, a few outrightly negative (and some offensive), and a majority occupied a middle ground. I also received an unexpectedly high volume of feedback via emails, facebook messages, and twitter DMs. The article was featured by a few other portals, most notably in a post on Friendly Atheist, a prominent blog which covers the world of non-believers and skeptics.

At some point, my article was pointed out to the all-knowing Captain Ajit Vadakayil (henceforth referred to as ‘the Captain’). The Captain, for those unaware, is the author of a blog residing at the nether end of the internet, that chronicles his adventures in a fantasy land. This alternate universe, while maintaining some semblance to our own universe, has all the makings of Narnia or the Death Star, with the Captain playing protagonist, protecting it from drowning due to non-lunar-synced-menstruation by women who don’t do their husband’s laundry. I shall not venture into further discussions on this living magnum opus, and all who wish to know more must visit the Captain’s growing body of work and try to find their bearings.

So yes, the Captain ended up giving me some veritable titles, and informed the worlds that I am “SPONSORED BY FOREIGN DESH DROHIS TO BE ARUNDHATI ROY / CHETAN BHAGAT / AMISH TRIPATI AND DR DHABOLKAR ROLLED INTO ONE SLIMY PIECE.” (I am getting that on a T-shirt soon). The term ‘zionist’ came up quite a few times. The Captain also happens to be a patron of the Shrey Goyal daily, which is published using paper.li, a service that aggregates links and news stories from other twitter users whom I follow in a neat newspaper-like form. This is done automatically at 5am IST everyday with no moderation by me, and it has been months since even I opened it; perhaps some fans like the Captain can revive the readership. He seems to be rather fond of me, and has given me the nickname ‘chikkoo’ (which could mean several things, most commonly an earthy brown coloured fruit used to make excellent juices and shakes). The Captain also expresses a queer sense of excitement with utterances of TEE HEE now and then.

Like all great works of fantasy fiction, the Captain’s blog has a die-hard Harry-Potter-esque fan following, and in this particular chapter, he as well as many of his followers chose to identify me with a fictional in-universe character whose complete backstory I am unaware of. He and some of these fans also admit to stalking me and display an alarming unhealthy obsession with my daily life. That’s probably a natural consequence of maintaining an online footprint. Their comments represent a modern form of creative collaboration where they let their trains of thought run freely without even a brief flirt with reality. On the whole, the Captain, his followers, and a bunch of people on twitter and commenters on NewsYaps took up to flinging their poo in my general direction.

Back on planet Earth, Sai Deepak Iyer J from the sane end of the spectrum analysed my piece on the Centre Right India blog. I have known Sai Deepak about six years now, from the time when both of us were active quizzers (and quiz-masters) at IIT Kharagpur, where he studied law and I engineering. He has been a close friend, and I have always looked up to him for advice on personal and professional matters. His piece is a very harsh critique of my article, but manages to maintain civility in language. His expertise in law is unparalleled, and I was glad to finally see a sensible and technically rigorous response. I should clarify that my article was an opinion piece and I did not intend to suggest legal action of any form on any party. Sai Deepak’s response is a neat companion piece, and while my article wouldn’t have reached beyond a few hundred readers otherwise, it’ll reach many thousands via CRI (and ironically via the trolls, too), thousands who would now be aware of my point-of-view as well as the rejoinder, and can form their own opinion on the matter.

Thankfully, much of the above took place in the last couple of days when I had almost no internet access. I am currently in Europe on invitation of the Drucker Forum, which starts in Vienna a couple of days from now. I was one of the winners of the Drucker Challenge, which was judged by a panel headed by Prof.Lynda Gratton (London Business School), considered one of the world’s foremost management thinkers. This will be the second time I attend the forum, having been there last year via the same competition, with Julia Kirby (Editor-at-large, Harvard Business Review) on the jury. I’ll also be sharing some experiences and exchanging insights with Mensa France and the MakeSense gang in Paris, among other engagements. On a related note, if you’re in Delhi the coming Sunday, do consider joining Mensa India at the Oxford Bookstore for a discussion on Giftedness and Better Opportunities for Gifted Children from Underprivileged Backgrounds.

The trip started on a promising note in Amsterdam, where I spent a day wandering about and meeting an old acquaintance.

Amsterdam'ed

The place has a very unique footprint in my head now, and is about a lot more beyond the canals, bicycles, marijuana, the red light district, the Anne Frank house, and tulip bulbs. It is possibly the youngest, fastest, and the most vibrant city that I’ve come across. Some clever design innovations I saw set a train of thought in motion, about which you can read perhaps in my next column.