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There is a strange breed of humans I have met. Their behaviour baffles me considerably. They look like you and me, but could be aliens in disguise for all I know. Hmm… A sinister thought has suddenly occurred to me. I could be the alien here, right? And they the true earthlings which probably accounts for why their actions baffle me. Not the same wavelength and all that, you know. I agree I have said elsewhere that I am not from around here but from Planet Neptune [link]. But that’s more of wishful thinking on my part. Sigh, I so wish…! Anyways, let’s get back to the baffling behaviour I have encountered.

These ‘baffle-rs’ ask you questions. It could be how best to bake a fluffy chocolate cake, which diet plan you thought was the best one to follow, whether coconut oil was good for hair, if you knew how best to remove the stubborn stain from a white cotton shirt, whether running is a good exercise to reduce weight, the ingredients used in avial, which school would be the best for their child, what you think went wrong while making mysore-pak, how best to go about making the brass show-pieces shine, the best way to grow tomatoes. In short, the questions could be on just about anything. All pretty normal stuff so far. Eh?

When you hear the question, you are glad someone asked because you do know a thing or two about making chocolate cakes all fluffy as also moist. And stains on cotton shirts? Of course, you have been removing them all your life what with two boys of your own who thought if they didn’t come back home with muddied shirts Mom might feel offended. As for brass show-pieces, you have been rubbing them with Brasso for so long, it is a mystery that a genie has not popped out of one of them and given you three wishes. Hrrrmph. Lazy bums these genii are, sleeping their life off somewhere.

By the way, you leave the question about mysore-pak alone. You are no expert in making them, so you will never attempt to answer that question. Nor the one about reducing weight either. If there was one about gaining weight it would be another matter altogether. Suffice to say that you offer an answer only when you have one up your proverbial sleeve.

BUT. [Yet again a ‘but’ butts in. But, what else does ‘but’ know but to butt in? So here is but, butting in to tell you things aren’t so simple as they seem]

As soon as you start off on the secret of the fluffiness of chocolate cakes, or its moistness, before you can even go into the techniques of beating eggs or the importance of freshness of butter, you are rudely interrupted to be told yours is not the way. What follows is a lesson foisted upon you, on ‘how to bake the perfect chocolate cake’ starting from ‘Take two cups of all-purpose flour’ and ending at ‘cut it into slices and store in airtight containers’. You are left with your mouth half open.

Hello! Excuse me. I did NOT ask. I was asked. But what’s this? Your voice is not coming through. Someone has put it on mute. Now the same thing happens when it comes to stains on cotton shirts, and also making brass shine, minus the genii naturally since they are busy being lazy. You listen to detailed lectures, ‘how to’ lessons you don’t need. You are amazed. Annoyed. Grit your teeth. Resigned. Wondering why they do it.

So I have this request of such as them, who lure innocent people like me (are there others?) on by asking questions and then forcing answers upon us. The next time my dears, can you all please give me the script in advance? I will read through it during my spare time and give it back to you verbatim, just the way you want my answer to be for it to be acceptable to you when you pop the question (not to be confused with the other and more commonly known ‘pop the question’).

And you know what annoys me the most in all this? Not one word about the mysore-pak, I tell you. Not one word. Hrrmph.

©Shail Mohan 2016