To the Editor:
These are Orwellian days when war is peace and a xxx per cent national unemployment is a rising economy. Yet despite this deranged logic, there is more to be concerned about on the national scene, and that is the casual acceptance by the populace of almost every conceivable immoral or unethical practice on the part of the Administration. Whether it be the I.T.T. scandal, the Watergate bugging, the wheat deal or the bombing of civilians, it all seems to be accepted with a shrug. All this is ample evidence that we have died spiritually, and we are ready for totalitarianism. I remember once a high administration official was fired for accepting an overcoat as a gift.
Richmond, Oct. 16, 1972
On cooking or how to deny convenience to people
When they built the hotel, they built it on three levels. The top-most was for the elites. The commoners had no entry there, neither they had any business. Then was the second level, here a sort of compromise was reached. The rooms had provisions for the kitchen, to be shared amongst the two, who would also incidentally share the bathroom and the toilet. It would be very naive, even seem stupid to ask, what was the purpose of building the kitchenettes? Well, of course, the answer is that the kitchen is meant for cooking. Every Tom, Dick and Harry, ahem I am sounding too male chauvinist here, so after rephrasing, every Pam, Dick and Mary would answer, that kitchens are meant for cooking. Even those females [I happen to know a few] who think cooking is a male chauvinist thing imposed on them in a male-dominated society, would answer the same to this question, that Kitchens are meant for cooking. I mean, what else could be a kitchen be used for. Perhaps, we do use the kitchen for other purposes, for example, drying clothes [as the clothesline is inside the kitchen], brushing my teeth [as the wash basin is also a part of the kitchen]. Doing all this is okay in the kitchen, but people here have serious problems when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. If you think this is weird, I think you have not heard about cigol and convenience denial in your life. So read on….
First of all, let me confess, I love cooking, and I think cooking is an art more than anything else. There are times when I have no mood for cooking but I never fail to appreciate good cooking and efforts that are put into that. But then there are people who
Don’t know [and don’t want to know] how to cook [too proud males
and also too proud females who think it is below dignity to cook [both cases are known to me].
Don’t want to cook [either because of general sloth they have, or
for the fear that they might screw up the food [sometimes I am
myself the first case]]
Don’t want other people known to them to cook, as it makes them feel
guilty, so for them to not feel guilty the other person should not cook. And
these people, in general, don’t like people doing anything they
don’t want to do, because they then feel guilty and they do not
want to feel guilty. [I know a very good case of this particular kind]
Don’t appreciate good food, or good cooking, or at least the
efforts one puts in cooking.
Anyways, the point of telling this was that, when I cook in a small kitchenette given to me, the food usually comes out to be good and in edible form. Once in a while, there is a screwup, but that does not deter me from trying further on. People mostly type 1, 2 and 3, who are out there are envious of this. And I really believe the previous line of what I have written. So envious they became that they hatched a plot to take away my little kitchenette which was my personal space. More than a kitchen, it was a laboratory for testing the taste buds and culinary skills. It was a place that I went to refuge when my spirits were down [no pun intended].
Cooking food gives me enormous relaxation and self-satisfaction, which only a few other activities give to me. I have even had the feeling “This is so much better than sex!!” while cooking on many occasions. The joy that you get when you are mixing the flavours, the spices and the vegetables with the meat and masalas is just amazing and then relishing on the results and finally being appreciated by the people who you care about is just beyond words. I have a very hard time trying to understand, how can someone not like cooking, when they have access to a good kitchen and other resources? I think it has to come from within, it cannot come from without.
But, then, there are people who are unhappy, when I am happy. And they don’t want to be unhappy. So they want to make me unhappy. Then they can be happy. And cooking makes me happy. They know this. So, they don’t want me to cook. Not cooking will make me unhappy. Then, they will be happy.
So they hatch a sinister plan. They form something called as logic. Or to put it, in other words, they invent something they want to call as logic. Whether it is logic or not, I leave it to you to decide. I call it cigol. Now in cigol, since cooking in the kitchen gives me happiness, it has to be taken away from me. This will make me unhappy. Then they will be happy. Since on the second level, all the rooms have the kitchens, I am to be barred from those rooms. The cigol they give is different at different times. At first, they say that there are ACs in those rooms. ACs are available to a very specialized class of people in India. They are for the elites [and incidentally, I am an elite in the office since I have an AC there but in the hotel, it seems, I am not elite enough. The world seems more and more Orwellian as I spend more time here. As Orwell would say “All Elites are equal; some elites are more equal than others.”].
And we commoners have no right to have them in our puny rooms. Well, I said, I don’t want an AC. Since they don’t, believe me, they lock the AC, fearing that I will use it when I am not supposed to. Well, it sounds funny, but they actually have built a small wooden cabinet around the AC switch whose key is with the guards. So only for proper elite persons, the ACs are to be turned on, who are elite enough. And the elites are all visitors for a few days to a maximum of one or two weeks. Now the elites, since they are elites also get something else with the ACs. Namely, the kitchenettes. Whether they want to cook or not, or whether there is anything to cook there or not, does not bother the concerned people. But the elites should get a kitchen along with the ACs, that is the norm. If you ask them why then they say, this is the way things are, can’t you see the simple cigol here. Once cigol enters the picture, everything else becomes irrelevant. Another thing is that perhaps it is a kind of ‘show-off’ for the visiting elites. This is what we give to everybody, even who are visiting us for a short time. So think what we must be giving to our regular staff members.
So the elites get the kitchen sans the cooking instruments, there is not even a water heater in the kitchenette, just in case an enterprising visitor wants to make black tea or coffee, let alone anything else, worth cooking. As per cigol, the kitchenettes become dirty when you cook, so it is better to leave them just like that, as cooking in the kitchen will spoil its beauty. Truly empty kitchens look better than full-fledged ones. To cut the long story short, kitchens are there, and they are not being used, simply because some people don’t want other people to use them [and they themselves don’t want to use them either. The case is more like a dog who cannot eat the grass but doesn’t let the cow eat it too]. And when asked why were they not used, they told us, because nobody ever used them. This is cigol. Then why not give it to us, who want to cook in the kitchen. Again this is not possible. Why? Because it was not done in the past. This is cigol.
4 Convenience Denial
I ventured out to change this trend. I started to cook in the kitchen, which they had to finally give to me. It made me happy. Very happy. But unfortunately for me, my happiness was unbearable to some. So they began to complain. In this complaining, they use a superior and totally unbeatable form of cigol, which I call convenience denial. The convenience denial is used so many times and in so many different ways and different places, that I will have to write an entire blog about it. One of the meanings is straightforward, as the words read. It is the denial of convenience to you. If you find anything which is convenient, they will deny that thing to you. If they find anything that gives you happiness, they will deny it to you. But apart from this convenience denial has another meaning, apart from the straightforward one discussed above. There is a pun being intended here.
The other meaning of convenience denial comes in when some of the fundamental rights of ours are denied to us, just for the convenience of the few. When they know something will be convenient to you, they will say, ”Oh. Okay. But you see, it really doesn’t fit in the rules of the Banyan Tree. And we are part of the Banyan Tree. So we are denying this.” On the other hand, when the rules of the Banyan Tree do form a convenience for us, they say “Oh. Okay. But you see, it really does fit in the rules of the Banyan Tree. But we are not the Banyan Tree. So we are denying this.”
The two reasoning’s may sound contradictory at first. They should. Because they are. But this is the pinnacle of cigol. But if you look through cigol, this contradiction is only apparent. It is like an apparition, which vanishes when you look at it with a skeptical eye.
Of course, there is no contradiction. ”We are always right. Only we can interpret the rules and we can deny them as per our whims and fancies [read convenience]. So it really doesn’t matter what the rules are [and what they are not], they are not going to help you in any way. Period.”
“Cooking gas is a dangerous thing. If left open, it can lead to accidents. It is too dangerous to be used in the hotel. So you cannot use it. There is a rule which says so. Your safety is our first concern”
But again the Orwellian rule applies, that is to say, rules are meant to be broken. If you are elite enough, you can use the cooking gas. Suddenly, the cooking gas is no longer a dangerous thing. Of course, cooking gas is not dangerous. And what about safety you ask, of course cooking gas is a safe thing, but only if you are elite enough. Otherwise, it is as dangerous as it can be.
“Who will be responsible if you accidentally blow up the entire building, you see there are people staying there.”
But then again as cigol rules, these questions are not asked to all, but to unfortunate few, who do want to cook on their own.
“Instead of the cooking gas, we give you a better alternative. Use the hot plate! There is no pollution, no danger of an accident, where the whole building can’t come down. Use the hot plate! Hot Plate ki Jai!
And the microwave too. There is one common kitchen which is set up in the old hotel [by our grace], where people from all the rooms are supposed to come and cook. Does it matter, if you have to walk 200 meters just to boil a cup of water? Of course not! It will give you good exercise.
Only the truly spirited persons will come, those who don’t anyway did not need it.
So as a result only a few will turn up. And this is recorded that a few people use the common kitchen. So there should not be more common kitchens, as the
one that is there is underutilized. This is statistics of nihilism. Of course, the convenience denial is ON in all this in the normal state, if you failed to notice already.
And when we remind them that the Banyan Tree does not make this distinction, the answer we get is this:
“Oh. Okay. But you see, it really does fit in the rules of the Banyan Tree. But we are not the Banyan Tree. So we are denying this.”
“Do you have any idea how much electricity bill we are paying for the hotel?”
No. I don’t have any idea. And I don’t want to have any idea about that. Why the efff should I have any idea regarding the electricity bill that you are paying for the hotel? Am I paid for having any idea regarding electricity bill that you are paying for the hotel?
Then why the efff should I bother or worry about it. Anyway, you are not paying that monies from your pocket, are you?
It is the taxpayer’s money, my money being used to do that. But let me ask Are you paid for having any idea regarding electricity bill that you are paying for the hotel?
Then isn’t it your efffing job?
So we will do our job!
By trying to reduce the electricity usage on the campus.
Good. This seems to be a really good effort on your part.
It is! And we will see that you don’t enjoy this either!
What is that supposed to mean?
You see, you use hot plates for cooking.
But it was you who denied the use of cooking gas, so we had to use the hot plates.
You are trying to mix things here. We are talking about hot plates and you are bringing up the issue of cooking gas, which we left in the last section! It is of no relevance here. Period.
You contradict your self.
No, we don’t. Cigol is strictly under application here. You see we are trying to reduce the electricity bill.
Oh, we found that your usage amounts to 0.1 % of the total bill. This is a huge amount. If we are able to stop this usage, we will have to pay only for 99.9 % of the amount due! See what foresight we have!!
But 0.1 %, is it a huge amount?
Yes, for the hotel it is! But for you it is minuscule. You have so much money to spend. Why not give it back to where it came from?
Does not compute. You talk the exact opposite!
Well, it is cigol, you won’t understand it.
I bet, I won’t.
It is better for you that you shouldn’t. Our workings are mysterious and are strictly based on hierarchy and personal relations.
But aren’t they supposed to be, ahem, transparent and equitable?
What transparency? Everything is as transparent as it should be.
But then why are you not trying to reduce the rest of the electricity usage, the remaining 99.9 % of it?
Well, it is not on our priority list. But your usage is. We have reasons. You see 70 % of the usage is by ACs. And ACs are essential for working, you cannot work in an office if the AC is not ON, can you? And the remaining usage is for the other activities of national importance. Since we cannot stop these, we have to stop something. We are also answerable to people above us.
Hence, you choose us. Because we are soft targets. In spite of knowing the fact that a single AC running a day, will cost you more energy than used for entire months cooking? And if it is so essential to have ACs, why keep them locked from us in the hotel?
What nonsense you are talking about? Those things cannot be compromised. And for the ACs are a must for office work. We work more efficiently in a cooler environment.
Okay. And we can be compromised?
Yes… No, no. I mean it is not that simple.
Then? [Why I am even bothering to ask, this is cigol!]
And what about the highest rates that we are being charged for?
Well, since the hotel pays at that rate, you will also have to pay the same.
But ours is a residential zone and we are being charged at industrial rates? Why?
Because we can charge you at the industrial rates. That’s why. And for all your strengths and powers you cannot do anything about it.
But why us?
Well by choosing you, we will make sure that you pay for the hotel and make a good example of not trying to mess with us.
But you do have the funding, right? And will the payment that we make be enough?
Yes, we have got enormous funding, but when it comes to you, particularly there is a crunch. And of course can you not do this bit to help us? It is of no concern to us whether it really matters in the reduction of energy usage or not, but we want to show that we have taken some steps to lower the usage. And that is sufficient for us. Its efficacy is irrelevant here.
So, you mean to say we are not on the priority list?
You see you are on the priority list but not at a correct position in either of them. You are at the bottom end of the fund’s priority list. And at the top end of the consumption reduction list!
But you see, in the Banyan Tree, they do not charge anybody for any usage, and the number of users is very large there. So why do you charge us?
Oh. Okay. But you see, it really does fit in the rules of the Banyan Tree. But we are not the Banyan Tree. So we are denying this.
Does not compute. [How could I forget Convenience denial?]
It is plain simple cigol.
So you are giving justification, not justice.
But tell me, how is this going to reduce the consumption of electricity. You have yourself set up a common kitchen, if we use the same amount of electricity there, we cannot be charged, and the consumption is not reduced either. So, your original plan does not work.
You are very naive and think in a very limited fashion. You see, we don’t want you to cook. In fact, we don’t want you to do anything. Just be as non-functional as possible. Because we know it gives you happiness. In the common kitchen, since it is far away from most of the people, they won’t come and cook. And even if they cook it is acceptable.
And the same people cooking in their own rooms is not acceptable?
No. It is not.
See, the idea is that if people cook in their own rooms they will cook more and better food and will be happy. That is something we don’t want. We would want them to eat the canteen food all the time. And anyway how can anyone who is working hard find any time for cooking?
So, you mean to say cooking is a waste of time?
But we still want to cook, and that too in our own rooms!
Well if you are so adamant for cooking. And cooking gives you happiness. Then happiness cannot come for free.
If you want to use a hot plate in your room, you will have to pay for it.
But you are making us use the hot plate.
This is part of convenience denial. It is a grace on our part that whatever you are getting, is there. If we had it our way you would not get anything that would give you happiness.
But we won’t pay for it.
We are not asking you to pay, we will directly deduct it from your salary.
Without my consent?
Yes. We don’t need your consent for this. We are elite enough to do this kind of stuff.
Are you sure? You are cutting monies from my salary and you are claiming that you can cut it without my consent?
We are not sure. But this is cigol, so it doesn’t matter anyway. At the most, we will have to revoke it some day. But till then we will make sure you pay. And apart from this, you are causing great inconvenience to our elite guests.
By cooking in the kitchen and by keeping your stuff in the common area.
Well, aren’t these two areas meant for that. Kitchen for cooking and common area for keeping stuff.
Yes, they are indeed. But it does not apply in your case.
You see, kitchen in meant for cooking, but it does not follow that one must cook there.
You cannot cook there. And before you ask the next question, I will already give the answer, no, you cannot keep your stuff in the common area.
So what’s the use of building them and not allowing them to be used, even by the people who want to use them?
Maybe it was a mistake to build them in the first place.
But not using them, once they are built, would be another mistake.
Well, this is cigol. You don’t ask the government why they build things which one cannot utilize or use. This is just a continuing legacy of that. We make things that are not accessible to the general public, of course, elites are a different matter.
You mean, they are not made up of ordinary matter? I smell that the dark matter problem in cosmology has a potential solution, in form of the elites of the Indian government.
No. Not that way. You are straying away from the matter. You are charged with not being fair to others?
I am not being fair to whom?
To every one. You see you are effectively having more than your share at this place.
And what about you and the other elites? Are you not having more than your share at this place.
What do you mean?
Well to tell it simply, are you not occupying much more rooms than I am? And that too by doing modifications to the fundamental structure of the construct?
Yes. I am. And there is nothing that anyone can do about it.
And this I guess definitely does not conform to the rules of the Banyan tree. Does it?
Oh. Okay. But you see, it really does not fit in the rules of the
Banyan Tree. But we are not the Banyan Tree. So I can do this. And how can you forget Orwell: “Some are more equal than others.” I am one of those some and I also have the power. And who will dare to speak about this? Will you?
Of course not. Who wants to bell the cat? Then you will occupy space not meant for you, as there is clearly a separate place for you to stay. Even then you mean to say, I being not fair is unfair, but you being unfair is fair?
Yes. Even Mr Orwell will tell you so. And there is a difference between I being unfair and you being unfair. You see rules that apply to you, don’t apply to us. And even if they do apply, we have the ultimate weapon of convenience denial in our repertoire.
But my being unfair, is it even true when there is no one in the next room?
Yes. You are not being fair to other people, who might be sharing this room. And those people who might be sharing this room, are the elites. So when they come to stay here, it becomes imperative for us to make their stay comfortable.
Even at the cost of people who are staying there for a much longer time?
Yes. You see it is like this. The more you stay, the less important you are.
But then by that logic, who will be most unimportant?
Orwell: All are equal, but some are more equal than others.
But does this not fair thing apply even when there is no one who is sharing this room with me.
That is why it becomes even more important if you are not fair to no one who is not sharing your common area, how can you be fair to everyone who is not sharing your common area?
But no one [except me] wants to use the kitchen. Is it my fault?
Yes. It is your fault. You are not confirming to rest of ones like you.
As I had said earlier, but now I am certain, that building these kitchens was a mistake, as no wants to use them.
But I do want to.
Your want is irrelevant. What no one wants is more relevant. And there is not a rule like that in the Banyan Tree.
Oh. Okay. But you see, it really doesn’t fit in the rules of the Banyan Tree. And we are part of the Banyan Tree. So we are denying this.
[I am rendered wordless, speechless and powerless against such cigol and convenience denial, I choose to keep my silence…]
That is it! There are to be no more words. It is final that you will be shifted soon where you will have a hard time cooking and you won’t be happy. I will make sure that a written order is passed in this regard. And then you can’t do anything, but to confirm what we have been saying all along.
Note: Any resemblance to real places and people is not coincidental.
Or is it?
Or is it the other way round?