“What an idiot!” vs “He does that because in his view … “

मूर्खो ऽसाव् इति तर्जनेन न हि तद्-वृत्तिᳶपरामृश्यते
दृष्टिः का तुनुते ऽप्रियं मम दृशा तस्येति न ज्ञायते।
संवृद्धिं हृदि काङ्क्षसे यदि जने दोषस्य वा मार्जनं
मौर्ख्यम् नो भण सूक्ष्मदर्शनपटोर् लोकोत्तरा व्यापृतिः॥

[Other verses in this series are here.]

This was spurred by this very perceptive note on this separate G+ thread :

================
I realised that Manu Joseph is a less crass Kamaal R Khan, who famously explained Indian behaviour with the phrase “Because We Are Chutiya.”

As a first explanation, “Because We Are Chutiya” is actually an incredibly satisfying answer to so many paradoxes of modern Indian life.

“Why do rich people in Delhi drive from Delhi to Gurgaon and subject themselves to tooth gnashing traffic even though there is an air conditioned Metro?” Because we are chutiya.

“Why do we live in Delhi at all and suffer the boiling hot summer, the freezing cold winter, and the ever present pollution; when we could just sell all our assets and move to continental Europe and live in genteel retirement?” Because we are chutiya.

“Why do we persist with forcing sweets on our guests and ourselves, at any occasion, at massive cost to our wallets and our health; when there are other things we can do to show affection or to celebrate?” Because we are chutiya.

“Why do we drive our cars down the wrong side of the road for a five minute advantage over taking a U-Turn that is both insignificant in our larger punctuality and fucks up road safety for everybody else?” Because we are chutiya.

Manu Joseph operates at the same level of frustration at our ability to get everything in our daily behaviour and assumptions so massively wrong. His advantage over KRK sir is in his ability to put it in family friendly terms for a posh English newspaper.

… And so we should not reject what Manu Joseph and KRK have to say; but take it a step forward and ask “but why are we chutiya?”

The answer to this comes from Leo Tolstoi in Anna Karenina.

“It was for his interests that every laborer should work as hard as possible and that while doing so he should keep his wits about him, so as to try not to break the winnowing machines, the horse rakes, the thrashing machines, that he should attend to what he was doing. What the laborer wanted was to work as pleasantly as possible, with rests, and above all, carelessly and heedlessly, without thinking.”

Naturally, now we should again ask “Why does the laborer want to work carelessly and heedlessly without thinking?” …

The jump from Manu Joseph / KRK to Tolstoy is essentially one of empathy.

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