And, count 1, 2, 3...

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

By and large, it is not good to regret in life. Isn’t it? But then, there are exceptions. There certainly are. Take this one, in my case: I do regret specializing in International Relations. Should have mastered in mathematics; in calculations, to be precise. Why? Do you ask ‘why’? Well, obviously because there is counting going on everywhere. We are swimming in a sea of numbers and it is proficiency in calculating and counting that shall save us in this sea.

All of us are counting...and all the time! Yes, counting all the time... Get up in the morning and the smart band counts the steps you take in the park. The numbers become such an obsession that some of us keep counting the steps the whole day long. We set our targets accordingly. We decide to be in the park not till the time the cooing of the birds enchants us or till our feet want to snuggle in the plush green grass but till the time we complete our count of 6,000 or 8,000 steps. We return home and count the calories in the breakfast laid out before us, and then decide whether it shall be a coffee and a bran biscuit for us or a butter-laden methi parantha it shall be...

And the day goes on, counting and counting all the way. Some of us wistfully count the number of days since the last raise or the last unexpected holiday which came our way, while others count the days left before they leave the crappy place they are in and move on to pastures that seem to be green from their side.

Is mundane life all about numbers...and since we have to survive or live this life, must we choose the numbers which are important for our overall well-being...?

Of course, in the humdrum of materialism, we do not forget to take the name of God about 101 times, or errrrr... a vow perhaps of walking barefoot to a shrine for 40 days? Even in matters of devotion, better to be disciplined and not stick out from the confines of numbers, right? We are busy folks. Chanting the Lord’s name 101 or 111 times should suffice, don't you think? Of course, we keep a good count for all others matters of the heart as well—-be it 11 roses for the beloved or 18 gifts on our child’s 18th birthday!!

Aha! The counting hardly ceases anytime during the day. The cell is persistently checked and so also the FB page so that the count of likes triggers that ‘feel-good’ sensation, every few minutes, in our brains. If less than five praiseworthy comments have come on our latest DP, can we humanly stay undisturbed and go about as if nothing is the matter? Am afraid, not so! And if a few moments do come along, which are not filled with work or networking-related tasks, and which are to be just whiled away in nothingness, we begin counting the number of people who have hurt us till date and the number of loved ones we still have in life...

And while we are lost in that reverie of counting the folks who once loved us or betrayed us, a phone call from our kid’s school to inform us of the marks that the teachers have counted on our kid’s answer sheets—- may pull us back to reality. We scratch our brains in a bid to recollect the numbers he secured the last time and in retrospect, the numbers that his friends got on their answer sheets. And depending on whether our calculations take a turn for good or worse, we utter a sigh of relief or of exasperation! How much wiser has our ward become as compared with the last time he was examined for his knowledge, rarely ever merits our attention! Absurd it is to think this deep, isn’t it? We prefer to remain on the surface; we feel safe surrounded by numbers.

Before we start calculating the calories we think we can afford to gobble for our lunch, there is inevitably a torrent of messages, inspiring us to keep the counting on... Messages---either telling us the number of trees that are cut every time we reach out for the tissue box or messages instructing us to circulate the sent ‘miraculous’ message to 9 or 11 more bubbleheads, so as to usher good luck in our lives! And as we go about counting the tissues we have used that day and feel guilty for the said and other countless sins committed, there comes a cup of tea before us and we count if it is the third one or the fourth one for the day! No, are you nuts to gulp tea as and when you feel like refreshing yourself...??? Haven’t the doctors advised us to keep the count?

Over lunch, colleagues start discussing the conversion rate of the dinar against the rupee and the calculations that ensue as a result, overpower the taste of the bhindi or was it capsicum we had for lunch??

At different levels in our minds, the calculations go on... Along with the numbers in sales, logistics and finance we pore over on the laptops or in the office files, there are other calculations going on at the macro and micro levels.

The Hollywood and Bollywood divas keep counting the box-office collections and the poor souls that they are, — they have to keep counting their own and the collections of their sworn competitors too!!! All those who post videos on YouTube or pics on Insta or comments on Twitter count, count and count the admirers, followers and influencers they have succeeded in drawing! Somehow, numbers comfort us! The fact that there are a certain (obviously, large) number of people who like us; read us; see us; and show their ‘thumbs-up’ to us, makes us feel good and secure.

If Bollywood is counting, so are our other veteran off-screen actors! Yes, our governments! The governments are calculating the increase or decrease in the vote banks, and dwelling on salvaging the situation. On the other hand, some power brokers are counting the numbers of MPs or MLAs needed to be hijacked to get the magical numbers in the trust votes. There, sitting in lavish offices, our economists are wondering how and where to fudge certain numbers so as to paint a good picture of the economy. An unassuming housewife somewhere is calculating how inflation shall increase the number of unfulfilled demands of the young and old members in the family. The traders are counting their profits and the dealers, their commission. The stock-brokers are counting the Sensex and the farmers, the dead bodies of their brethren.

At the international level, the guardians of the world are calculating the pros and cons of embracing, rebuking and bombing the next ‘truant’ nation on their radar!

At some sub-conscious level, the singles amongst us are counting and calculating on their excel sheets, the gains and pains of each proposal that they have in the inbox of their account on a matrimonial site. Those who are already living in holy matrimony are also counting —-sometimes, the scars and sometimes, the happiness bars! Those who have just been married, may not be calculating much in their state of bliss but their families are counting the days before a good news is announced by the newly-weds!!!

What a world ours is!!! Numbers, numbers everywhere and yet no time to spare a few moments and count the days we have already lived and the days presumably left...?

Aha! Yes... The mention of life and living reminds me that let me get up, take about 25 steps and drink my 5th glass of water for the day!!!

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, a feature writer and an author. Her publications include several academic papers presented at National and International conferences/seminars, nearly 250 feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and on web portals, two e-booklets and nine Books. Presently, she teaches at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and counsels and conducts training workshops at Gurukul, Kuwait.
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