Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 10/8/17 5:50 AM

Humour: Indians lazy? How dare you!

The flip side of laziness

A new study recently dubbed Indians the laziest people in the world. Sheila Kumar attempts a languid  rebuttal


What is this, I say. Why has this magazine study said that we are the laziest lot in the world? Do not believe this for a moment. The matter is deeper than it appears to be.

History will conclusively prove that we have always been and continue to be a most industrious lot. Back in the day, we were ploughing the fields, stacking the hay, inventing the zero, the wheel and the cycle to go with the wheel.

One lot was doing the cooking, cleaning and washing. Not too far away, someone was contemplating his navel in an act of deep meditation.

Remember, we are the people who took navel-gazing to the world. More important, we conferred the cachet of immense profundity to an act that decriers might call a supreme act of laziness.

Cut to the present day. Now too, we have people being industrious, some hapless souls  in the field and many more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

One lot is still doing the cooking, cleaning and washing, that hasn`t changed. Not too far away, someone is starting a start-up, from the comfortable confines of his or her chair, every single day.

Basically, what others take for laziness, we know to be ingenuity. And a deep abiding love for tradition.

Another recent study said that Indians average just 4,297 steps a day against the worldwide average of  4,961 steps.

It is clear that we are masters of the art of stillness. Others may term it sloth, ineptitude, idleness, but the idea of doing nothing is traditional. It has come down from our sages. And we are nothing if not traditionalists.

It takes respect for tradition to stay calm and carry on as we have done for centuries. It takes respect for tradition to still demand, collect, collate official forms in triplicate and then file them away for posterity.

It takes ingenuity to do next month what was needed to be done yesterday.

It takes ingenuity to demand and get a wheelchair at all international airports, then bring said wheelchair to an abrupt halt, and spring up to do a thorough trawl of the duty-free shops.

It takes infinite patience to wait until forever while the lift creaks up all the way  to the 11th floor,  and you can get in and go up to the 12th floor, thus saving you the  walk up one flight, which translates to a whopping ten whole stairs.

It takes ingenuity,  when the whole world is engaged in frenzied acrobatics, Pilates and other cardio activity, to invent hot yoga, whereby you do your asanas at the usual measured pace but in  a heated room and thus sweat off all the calories without too much strenuous activity.

It takes ingenuity to get on your two-wheeler and drive slowly, your dog on its leash running alongside, thus exercising your dog with no extra effort.

It takes ingenuity to crawl under a glass-topped table, put your Kindle on the glass top and read comfortably without straining your hands.

It takes a sort of karmic patience to let that broken doorbell, that cracked window pane, that leaking faucet be, rather than call in a plumber/electrician/carpenter.

On the flip side, it is an act of charity to call in an electrician/plumber/carpenter to fix what is basically a DIY project, like changing that light bulb.

So fellow countrymen and women, let us jettison the negative connotations of laziness. Let us recognise that what others term lazy, is to be evolved.

We know that to attain the correct nirvana, moksha and more important, immediate comfort, we need to stay still, commune with our inner soul, tap into our sedentary self.

Of course, we can all aspire to touch the acme of ingenuity, the art of job delegation, but few can reach that apex.

I am talking about an individual who,  in front of my fascinated gaze, stretched out a chubby hand with the detritus of an eaten meal still clinging to be-ringed fingers and announced, `Ramu! Haath dulva lo!`

Now that is an ingenious way of carrying on the tradition of relying on domestic help, and giving the aforementioned domestic help something useful to do. I defy anyone to call that laziness.

This ran in DECCAN HERALD of 8 Oct 2017.

humourIndianslazy peoplesatireSheila Kumar

Sheila Kumar • October 8, 2017

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