I wonder if someone has done serious scientific studies on the way conversations evolve; how the subjects change, develop, lead on to further subjects, get sidelined and sometimes revive all over again (an incredibly wild but seldom really discontinuous process) and how a group conversation breaks down into smaller cliques which again realign into larger groups and ...
Indeed, more intimately, if one were to sit quiet and watch one's own thoughts over even a short period..., it is awesome!
Anyways, here is the approximate transcript of a conversation that took place today over coffee at around 11 am in a software office. Let me name the participants A, B, C, D.
(B C and D are seated already with their cups of Espresso. Enter A with a cup)
A: Hey, did you see that Vikram Seth is editing today's Times!
B: yeah, saw that. He is the honorary editor or something for just a day! strange!
A: I think it is not really a new stunt. Times has done it before with others, I guess. Actually, Times is too good in this kind of thing...
C: ..and in little else, 'page 3' excepted of course! In newspapers, I am an out and out 'Hindu fanatic'. Too bad you dont get it out here (in Pune)!
D: Yes, 'Hindu' is anyday the better paper. And, I guess Vikram Seth need not need not have been party to this kind of gimmicks.
B: Well, he is promoting his new book. He too has his own business to mind. Fair enough, isnt it?
D: (thoughtfully) I guess you are right.... But that concept of being in power for a day; that is interesting! Somewhat like 'Nayak' (the movie where the commoner hero is the chief minister of a state for a day and cleans up the place) one can say.
C: But that is not really a new idea either. I vaguely remember something from my history text. Mughal Emperor Humayun had such a deal with a water carrier.. well, the Hindi word for water carrier is 'Bhishti' or something like that. Humayun was, you know, running away from a battle, having got thrashed by the other guy,..
D: Sher Shah?
C: right, Sher Shah! and then he almost drowns in a river and the water carrier saves him. Humayun tells him, 'if I get back my kingdom, you will sit on the throne for a day' and I think, he kept his word!
A: So, is there any record of what he did while in power?
C: No idea, really. If the chap were real smart, he would have kept his mouth shut for that day, had fun at the harem and moved out gracefully!
B: There is yet another episode - from the mythology. Some king gets Indra's(king of Gods) position for a limited period and creates havoc in the heavens and gets kicked out and cursed to become a snake or something!
A: thats right. I have heard this story as well. Actually he physically kicks someone, some sage and gets cursed first - and then kicked out of heaven!
D: and the Greeks seem to have a story where someone gets to drive the Sun God's chariot for a day and it ends in some major disaster!
C: A common thread out there is, when someone is put in a place where one ought not to be, that is big trouble, eh?
B: Yeah, one ought to be where one belongs! You know, there is a Tamil song: "Garuda saukyama?" means "Garuda, how do you do??". You, know, the snake that sits coiled around (Lord) Siva's neck smugly says "Howdy!" to Garuda (the mythical Eagle, his natural nemesis) and Garuda says: "fine! and one stays fine, as long as one stays where one ought to stay!" matlab, the snake had better sit tight where he is (Siva's neck) or he is done for! How is that?
D: Ha, that is interesting!
A: Hey, what is that song, again??
B: "Garuda Saukyama?" (gets up with his empty cup)
C: (getting up as well, sings in an improvised tune) "Garuda Saukyama!"
(A joins C, totally offkey. They all stand up and walk towards the pantry to dump the cups).
D (to B): Btw, is it a Sivaji Ganesan song? I have seen a movie of his. The original of 'Virasat'.
B: It is 'Thevar Magan'. Awesome actor, that guy!
D: you bet!
Note 1: The stuff in brackets above is mine. This conversation, I guess is by no means ATYPICAL in its sweep and chaotic evolution - although the level of pedantry on display might be a tad on the higher side!
Note 2 Btw(an aside, which could launch another track for the discourse of this post!), an eminent Indian academician told me many years ago: "These software guys - they are a rather limited crowd. What do they talk about except money, shares and well, other people's wives? Okay, add movies to that list! then what??"