What are you doing now?

I was on the phone with a friend when she asked me that question. I always have this urge to never answer that question straight. But this time I had an additional thought.

My cell phone was charging from the wall, so what I was actually doing was pacing around in a rough semicircle about the wall socket like a tethered cow. I told her that. And then as she was about to go on with the next line of conversation I interrupted her – I do that a lot; see I’m doing it to myself now – about this thought I had about the question.

When I try to be smarty-pants and tell people ‘talking to you’ in reply to that question, they usually (after a quick undertone muttering) emphasize that they meant in a broader sense. So I could tell them I’m enjoying my weekend at home. If they want me to broaden it out a bit more, I could tell them I’m studying my final year of a masters in Physics. But as you keep smearing this out, notice that the smearing goes necessarily in only one direction, the past. There cannot be any smearing into the future.


Thus, as you broaden out your answer, you are no longer answering ‘what are you doing now?’, rather ‘what have you been doing?’ The more you smear it, the further the mean of that distribution gets from now, and the further you get from answering that question.

Can you ever really answer it? By the time you’ve said what you were doing, you’ve already done another thing, which is to tell someone what you were doing. It’s like telling someone what time it is. So this involves a bit of seeing into the future, which is impossible. However, it can be counteracted effectively with the smarty-pants answers. So maybe the only correct answer must be like ‘answering your question’, because even though you can’t see into the future, in all cases where there is no sudden calamity or anything and you do get to finish that answer, you will have answered the question and thus answered it correctly.

After I told her all of this, I said maybe I’ll put this in my blog. I don’t think she realized I was serious.


It’s funny how, from time to time, you can snip off a huge chunk of your life that’s been trailing behind you towards the past end for some time, and let it drift away, so you can be a little more weightless while walking forward. Like an iceberg breaking off from time to time. You can watch the pieces that have floated away, but never actually get them back. Not funny. It’s not funny at all. It’s actually a little sad, I think.

I, for example, have packed my latest detached piece of life partly inside an orange and white packet in my cupboard and partly inside a folder in my computer. Something makes me open the cupboard and stare at the packet sometimes, switching momentarily to being a second person, looking at myself and wondering what I’m thinking about, whether I’m thinking the things that people in these situations are supposed to thing. What do they think? Are there socially approved lines along which such people are supposed to think?
Something made me open the folder today. A lot of chat logs. It was surprising that I’d been able to bury so much amount of my past. Saw a few photos. Fear. It’s funny how you once endow such things with destiny and providence and other stuff like the ones Paulo Coelho always shouts about. And then you see it’s no longer so.

I guess when you are trapped in a circular, spiraling maze like this all the time, the only way out is to sometimes think it’s funny. The conservation of mass and energy is a cruel hint of the circular, pointless nature of everything. Why don’t the scientists get it? Why are they so dumb?

Look, hey, let me tell you something. I’m a weird being. I don’t miss my past as much as I ought to, and I worry about that. And I’m always guilty that I’ve let myself forget my childhood, my old friends. For the little time we’re here, I guess we all try to embrace life as hard as we can. It’s because we don’t know where we were before we first opened our eyes, or where we will be after we last close them. That’s not a good enough excuse to suppose that the things in those two intervals were (a) same and (b) unpleasant and frightening. Look at an amoeba. The thing’s got nothing called fear. Fear is a learned response due to the constraints of being a human. So it’s logical to suppose that when you die and aren’t a human any more, you won’t have any need of your instincts, including fear. Hence, it’s not reasonable to be afraid of what lies beyond.

Talk about a hypocrite.