This story begins, as all good ones do, with Queen Elizabeth II’s green coat. Supposedly, the Queen celebrated yet another birthday and she made her public appearance in a green coat which gave meme creators across the world the rather ingenuous idea of using her as a backdrop for everything including pepperoni. It never ceases to amaze me; the power of ideas gone viral and the omnipotence of pizza. There I was, happily poring over the morning cuppa and trading news of prime import with the dad in law, when he asked me to Google the Queen’s age. As individuals and a family, we are obsessed with unearthing how old famous people are, only in my case, the answer invariably triggers feeling of mid-life crisis. Thanks to Wikipedia’s handy feature of noting birthdays and ages, I can short circuit to either of these two reactions, “At that age, I was proudly learning how to gloop apple puree on walls and making my mum’s life miserable, while XYZ has won the Ms. Crown, the Wimbledon Open, 53 trillion dollars, and the exclusive opportunity to feature on the cover of Gourmet magazine. What the?!” or “At that age, he is not only looking remarkably free of botox, but also sporting a six pack, whereas I, not having any teeth left shall be regretting wasting all that apple puree. What the?!” Turns out, by the way, that Elizabeth II is 90 years old and amongst the 16 odd nations she queens over, is a country called Tuvalu.
Now, be honest. Have you ever heard of Tuvalu?
While I was dealing with mid-life crisis induced inadequacy and profound feelings of ignorance, my mum, still traumatized by one too many incidents involving stewed fruits, called. She wanted to know what I was planning on doing with all my childhood encyclopaedias, dozens of which I was storing at her place. Her take was “Cm’mon, in today’s Google world, you are never touching them again, and frankly, my dear, I am really tired of dusting them.” “Oh, this is just great!” I stewed, “Just because we have search engines, and because of your OCD perchance induced by relentless cleaning of those long ago walls, you now want to give pieces of my childhood away.” She was not to be deterred and so it came to pass that not only did I feel inadequate and stupid, but also immense outrage at Google at taking the joy out of the search. I always believed, that to be truly worthy, the answers have to be arduously looked for, the process has to be filled with the mystery of stumbling across other pieces of the puzzle, which till you find them, you did not know how much you were missing.
In this frame of mind, up pops on my Facebook feed, the latest Google ad. If you are too lazy to view it, in short, it is about a middle aged guy who did not get a fair shot of making a go at Bollywood. Aided, in equal parts, by his enterprising son and Google search, he ends up on a quest of finding himself and becoming a hero. Now that plot line is as plausible as a Bollywood movie, but throw in enough meaningful removing of the spectacles to wipe the tears and soulful background score entreating ‘Hey Maverick Soul, search for yourself”, I am reaching for the tissues. I am crying because now people can find the meaning of their lives by saying Ok Google, and I am still working out how to make myself understood by the search engine.
Deeply disturbed, I turn to reading David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One day. I like this guy’s take “I hate computers. My hatred is entrenched, and I nourish it daily. I’m comfortable with it, and no community outreach program will change my mind.” I chuckle over the fact that he has a ‘shelfful of almanacs and reference books’ that he uses to solve crossword puzzles in an attempt to find self- worth. Now this is someone after my own heart. He gets that “I don’t always find what I am looking for, but in searching for an answer, I’ll often come across pieces of information…The Indian Emperors of the Kanva dynasty, Ted Bundy’s assumed name: these things are bound to come in handy eventually.” I nearly weep, with the joy of serendipity this time, when he brings up the capital city of Tuvalu. Oh my god! Oh my god, I am in love! Oh my god, I am in love with David Sedaris.
I shall now cyberstalk him, beginning with first finding out his age.
The capital of Tuvalu? Do look it up. Trust me, you shall not be disappointed.