Thursday, June 16, 2011


No, no whatever it is you are thinking, this is not about what you’re thinking. This is an unashamed elitist rant about me, and you fine people who happen to be like me, at least as far as inches go. Brothers, I know I speak for all of us when I say this that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks or says about us for we know we have what it takes to stand amongst men and say ‘Yes, I am man enough!’

This is for all those men who dared to look down on us because their overenthusiastic genes gave them a few inches to spare. And this goes out to all those women who sneered down the tapered tip of their noses at us and said “… oh, I thought you would be taller.”

Let me start from where it all began. After being cooped up in an all boys monastery for the first eight years of school life, I finally grew wings and managed to hop and strut my way into a co-ed environment. I had hoped for a bit of Riverdale high and moments stolen from pages stolen from a cousin’s dog-eared Mills and Boon. But my first day in class knocked the wind right out of my sails as my hopes sank without so much as a glug or two. It was my first day in class and I remember feeling like Sachin Tendulkar might in the LA Lakers locker room. I was 5ft 2 inches at 13 and everybody around me was taller, way taller. It was one thing to be looking up to the boys hulking a foot or so above my head but what cruel length of twisted fate had ordained that I was to be a head shorter than all the pretty girls too.

I realized that day that inches mattered.

Everyday I would will myself to grow taller. To match the boys was a dream too far to dream so I settled for the girls. I hung on to prayers, branches, doors and hope and lo and behold, I began to wake up a little taller everyday. I caught up with the tallest of the pretty ones and the shortest of big boys. A few years rolled by while I was growing fast and a quick calculation told me I had two years to go before my bones fused and two measly inches or so to go before I hit the magic 6 ft mark. It was inevitable. It was ordained. It was meant to be… or so I thought. I eased my foot off the ‘wishing-for-more’ pedal because now I knew that destiny would take over. Unfortunately, my bones did the same and destiny forgot to keep her word. The inches that were meant to be mine lost their way and fell into some undeserving sod’s lap while a few straggling centimeters still managed to find their way to their rightful owner, leaving me feeling like I was almost there but still not home.

So you and I, we realized we weren’t going to be six feet tall. So what is the first thing we do? We look for someone to blame... I could’ve blamed my parents but then it’s their genes that’s gotten me this far so there would have to be someone else.

And that someone else happened to be Paul Newman. That man, God bless his soul, I was told, was as gorgeous as they come, and a particular favourite of an ‘English teacher’ who was a particular favourite of ours. And if he was good enough for her, he sure was good enough for me. Now I must have been pushing 5’9’’ around that time and while flipping through the last few pages of a stray Time, I came across a snippet that mentioned that good old Paul too was about 5’9’’ and just there and then, my resolve slackened. In that moment when I began to accept that medium needn’t mean mediocre lay not only the root of my failure to reach ‘great heights’ but also the realisation that nearly 6 ft and yet not quite there was still a great place to be... After sifting through the star dust that brightens pages in glossies, screens in theatres and nubile dreams on balmy nights, one can’t help but conclude that their is something undeniably attractive about this matrix of feet and inches that start around 5’9’’ and stop just short of 6 ft - a golden bridge if you will that straddles two worlds- one where be the short and not so tall, who are forever battling the prejudices and subtle taunts of the world, from high school through to the grave. Often as a reaction they end up trying too hard to make up for the lack of inches, like a Hitler or a Napoleon. Not quite the stuff of dreams, dry or not, wouldn’t you say? And at the other end of the bridge are the blessed Brobdingnagians who stand head and shoulders above the rest of us. Not a world that should have much to complain about you’d say, but at the cost of howling like the fox who declared that the grapes are sour, you’ve got to admit that we all know the type that drags his personality around in a coffin made of his extra inches.

So it is left to us who make up this ‘golden mean’ (philosophically speaking the desirable and ideal middle ground between two extremes) to show the world how to wear our inches with a flourish. You obviously realise that it isn’t just sheer chance that year after year the men that make it to the top of the heap as the most desirable of their kind happen to be those that man this bridge between two worlds. From Paul Newman to Richard Gere and Michael Jackson to Mel Gibson and right down to George Clooney and Johnny Depp and yes, a Hrithik Roshan (and I would shove in Brad Pitt and Vin Diesel in the bargain for though their profiles list them at 6 feet nothing, do you seriously want me to believe that any self respecting PR manager would desist from bumping up their client’s height by at least a meagre inch if not more), they are all up there because their inches foretold it.

But then I went to Denmark on holiday and felt like I was back in school again. One sunny Saturday in Copenhagen while I saw the city brush past me, I felt yet again like Tom Thumb. The Danes must be amongst the tallest of races in the world. Every other guy seemed to be 6’4’’ or more and now and then I would see some guy walking around with his head lost in the clouds. And this time I had no hopes of growing any taller either. Late evening as I sat by an outdoor cafe and saw a bunch of drunken revelers tumble past, a rather disturbing thought began to bother me. What if I got into a brawl with one of these giants? Would I have any chance of putting up a fight if I had to defend myself or my family and friends from these guys?

Well I needn’t have bothered on two counts. Firstly, even when drunk, Danes tend to be rather polite and well behaved. And secondly, contrary to popular perception, heights in excess of 6 ft are hardly ever an advantage in a fight.

Yet again, it is the ‘golden mean’ that shines brightest for the best fighters in the world. The invincible Rocky Marciano who never lost a fight after battling towering giants like Joe Louis, the devastating Mike Tyson who repeatedly brought fighters like the 6’ 5’’ in Frank Bruno to their knees before dropping them on their backsides and the greatest MMA( Mixed Martial Arts) fighter in the history of the sport, Fedor Emelianenko are all invincible warriors that hovered around but never made it to the 6ft mark, and aren’t they glad they didn’t. Why, even the best of the Navy Seals, who incidentally brought down the 6’4’’ Osama, are just about 5’10’’ tall.

I’m beginning to think that the goddess that gives out genetic goodies must’ve kissed us right on the mouth for us from the mean to have been blessed with such a delicate balance of abilities and inches and this enormous genetic potential. I may not have done squat with it but the point is, I could have...

Last but not the least, I’m rather convinced that every avatar and every messiah, from Krishna to Christ and a few others I’m too much of a wimp to mention, must also have been about as tall for had they been exceptionally tall or short, the scriptures would’ve mentioned it. The fact that they didn’t would more than suggest that here too, it must’ve been the golden mean at work.

I rest my case.

So I must leave you with the thought that if you happen to be male and anywhere between 5’9’’ and 5’11’’ and some and if you aren’t making history, then you aren’t doing much.

As for the rest of the world on either side of the bridge, what do I say.... ‘eat your heart out’, I guess....


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