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  • Writer's pictureVedashree Khambete Sharma

Trivial Pursuits

One fine morning I opened up the Bombay Times and realised that someone was having waaaay too much fun on the job.

It’s the guy who writes a little window called ‘Fact of the Matter’. Maybe you’ve seen this section in BT – it appears alongside the funnies and the daily horoscope. Every day it carries one totally pointless piece of information that makes you blink and say “What?”. (Your immediate next thought is often “Why?”) True, some people find these little pieces of trivia endearing, nay, interesting even. But really, do you want to waste news-space just for the seven of them?

Consider this fine example of craftsmanship:

An ant, when inebriated, almost always tends to fall on its left side.

Look at the fine construction, how carefully the sheer ridiculousness of this little factoid has been disguised. And then, observe the master-stroke: almost. A drunk ant will always fall on its left side – NO! Almost always. I believe my brother was dazed for a full ten minutes after he read that. (Yes, to be frank, it doesn’t take a lot to stun my brother. I think he was born in a kind of semi-zapped state of consciousness, so even a tiny stimulus can keel him over into Level 10 of Totally Spaced Out Airheadedness. But still.)

And there is similar madness every day, mind you. I wondered what he did – run a Google on “Absolutely useless drivel”? Randomly typed and saw what turned up? What? What?

But before the answer presented itself, up popped a dangerous thought: if the guy who just finds these annoying little facts is getting paid for it, what about the guys who actually discovered them? The guy, for instance, who patiently fed alcohol to every individual member of a medium-sized ant-hill and recorded their falls for posterity and Bombay Times to document?

And to think I thought advertising was fun.

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