Sunday, October 4, 2015

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

How often is it that you wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, look into the mirror and go – “You again”? 

Well…lucky you, but not so lucky me.

I have always been a strong proponent against the adage “familiarity breeds contempt”, always arguing (and even believing) that it actually breeds love…yes, love! I can say it from first-hand experience. At the end of every single day that has passed, I have always loved my wife a little more (kachunnkk!!), and I attribute it to the fact that I have gotten that much more familiar with her on that particular day. This is still the case (kachunnkk! kachunnkk!!!!) and it’s not going to change…ever (kachunnkk! kachunnkk! kachunnkk!!!) ( I love brownies).

However…sadly, off late, I have realized that my concept of “familiarity breeds love” may have certain, whatchamacallit.....limitations.  You see, what familiarity breeds (love or contempt) seems to depend on who or what you are getting familiar with. For example, the more familiar you get with the BBMP, the lesser you love it. Here, familiarity does breed contempt…aye, and a lot more other negative feelings that only the devil can describe. Having accepted this, I stand down from my earlier lofty stance of “Familiarity only breeds love” to “Familiarity breeds love, but it depends”. (You see, I always let objectivity rule over emotion).

So, making this more scientific, I will call these two notions - FBC (familiarity breeds contempt) and FBL (familiarity breeds love) and note that either of the two are possible depending on who or what the object of familiarity is.

By now, you are wondering where all this is leading to…please read the first line again. Yeah, you got that right, I seemed to have gotten too familiar with myself and unfortunately, and astoundingly, it was the FBC that was kicking in and not FBL, which is what it should have been!! As this realization struck home, it obviously did not go down well with me. Given that FBC applied to BBMP as well, comparisons were inevitable and gut wrenching and this cast me, rudderless, into my first existential crisis!!

Luckily for me (and thanks to my scientific temper), objectivity prevailed over emotions and through much self-analysis and introspection, I managed to see through the murk and came up with the following conclusions:

  1. 1. I really did not know myself
  2. 2. If I did not know myself, the question of FBC did not arise!

These conclusions were truly uplifting. BBMP stopped popping to my mind whenever I thought about myself. Life went back to being boring from being harrowing. Everything was normal again. My existential crisis was pretty much resolved.  However… one question remained…
Why did I go “you again?” each morning when I looked into the mirror?

This question haunted me like a spirit that had been spurned in love. I knew, the answer was right there in front of me, every single morning.  But I couldn’t just put a finger on it!

I spent many sleepless nights of analysis from various angles but the answer eluded me. But God has his ingenious ways of catching you unawares.  So one fine morning, I awoke, I looked into the mirror and I knew….I knew why I went “you again?”! The only thing that comes close to this feeling is… well…I am not sure I want to describe it but words such as constipation, bricks, stuck, push, breaching of a dam, mudslide and euphoria do come to mind (for now you can think of it as the sudden clearing of a severe block…in this case, mental).

But, the euphoria was at best, ephemeral because as interesting as the question was, the answer was equally disappointing.  And the answer? Simple – I was getting bored with my own face! To put it in simpler terms – I was experiencing an FBC of my own face. Seeing the same old face in the mirror every morning, morning after morning was taking its toll. I must caution you at this point that this was not such a big problem as you may be imagining. Remember, this was not about hating yourself, it was about hating your face. Think about it. Just because you don’t like your face, does not automatically mean that you don’t like yourself. I hated my face, but, I, definitely, still, loved my self! Period.

The problem was not serious, but it was real and I had to deal with it. I needed to do something – nothing earth shaking or life changing...but something that would make me go “now, who the hell are you?”, whenever I saw myself in the mirror each morning.

The solution was easy – all I had to do was to change the way I looked! Ha-ha!

So the next morning, I woke up, did my usual morning shuffle to the bathroom, switched on the light and looked into the mirror – but this time with a very large smile, and one eyebrow raised. Why? Obviously to change my face!  

Looking into the mirror, I waited, with bated breath, for my thoughts to form. And slow as my thoughts are in the morning or any other time of the day for that matter, I realized that my attempt had…fallen flat on its face. Instead of giving rise to the thought - “now, who the hell are you?”, my precise thoughts were “You again? And stop smiling like a half brained chimp, you nitwit!”.  

But like all true scientists, I was not to be deterred. After all, this was only my first attempt and great scientists are known to fail a thousand times before they succeed. And so, in the mornings that followed, I tried a number of other face change tricks that predominantly involved contorting my face in different and mind bogglingly weird ways, but each time, I ended up recognizing my own face in the mirror! Epic fail.

Now, failure causes pain. To add to this, I also had to put up with various types of insults such as “pea brained moron”, “malformed orangutan”, “dumb pig with a wicked smile” etc. every morning. So you understand what I was going through – my own abilities to find a solution to a simple problem started to come into question. But, like all true scientists, I did not give up.

Taking a step back, this strategy clearly was not working. I had to think of something more fool proof, something that wouldn’t give me away that easily. The idea came to me when I was watching one of those mindless hindi serials on TV where the average IQ for the characters on the show is in the low single digits. But they do have good ideas once in a while – this one was of a 7 year old kid (female) escaping from her pursuer’s by disguising herself as a midget with a beard and a baby voice. Aha - a beard.

I now had a solution that I felt would definitely work!  The following is a fair approximation of what the solution looked like:
  1.  Grow a beard!
  2.  Do not look into the mirror until the beard was properly grown, which would be about a week at the most. (There was no need to look into the mirror if I did not have to shave). Hey, wait a minute, how about combing my hair?
  3.  Okay – I would cut my hair really short so I wouldn’t need to comb it. 
So off I went, got a haircut, short as it could be. I must say my barber got a bit offended when I shouted a vehement “NO!” when he asked the customary “shave sir?”, which cost me a little extra in tips to cheer him up, but what’s a few bucks for a “who the hell are you?” in the morning.

At the end of an excruciating week, where I had to restrain myself from breaking the mirror and gouging out those eyes that would constantly try and steal a glance at the mirror, I finally felt that I had a beard that was long enough to get the job done. The big day was here.  I went to bed early hoping to end the wait early, but ended up lying there wide eyed and nervous thinking about what the outcome would be the next day but eventually fell asleep due to sheer exhaustion.

Finally my eyes opened. It was morning – I could hear the birds chirping. My hand by instinct, went up to my cheeks and chin and felt for the beard. Yes, it was still there. Time to go. I got out of bed, switched on the bathroom light and entered. I looked into the mirror. I waited as my first thoughts formed. What would they be? Would I know it was me? And finally the thoughts took shape, I found myself looking at the face in the mirror and thinking “Who the hell…Hey! Nice! That’s a cool beard!”. This, was not the intended result…..however, it was a lot more than what I was expecting to achieve!!  I had managed to turn my contempt for my own face into love –  my new look was adorable!! 

A week went by, I flaunted and preened and graciously accepted compliments and some strange “who is this Devdas?”  kinda looks with equal poise. And then the following Monday – 8 days after I had tasted success, I woke up in the morning, shuffled to the bathroom, turned on the light and looked into the mirror....

My heart sunk as I helplessly watched myself in the mirror thinking “You again?”…


  1. :-) This blog made me smile....well, I started the blog in a not so appreciable mood.

    Wording simple instances of life with a dash of humor - well done.

  2. :-) This blog made me smile....well, I started the blog in a not so appreciable mood.

    Wording simple instances of life with a dash of humor - well done.

  3. Thanks Sindhu :) I have a slightly unconventional sense of humour that not everyone appreciates! Glad you liked it!