Paras is a bundle of paradoxes. “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” he believes firmly, choosing to ignore the fact that it was said by somebody from the West. Paras believes that the East and the West have their own diametrically opposed civilisations, though he has no qualms about wearing Western dress all the time, the necktie included.
The East is mystical and mythical while the West is rational and scientific, Paras argues. And the mysticism and mythology of the East are superior to the science and technology of the West. But Paras would not live without his beloved laptop and the latest version of the mobile phone.
Centuries before the Westerner formulated the mathematical identity, infinity minus infinity equals infinity, Indian mysticism had formulated it, argues Paras. “Look at Brihadaranyka Upanishad, for example. It says, ‘Poornamata, poornamitam...’ That is, infinity here, infinity there; take away infinity from infinity and infinity remains.”
“Even the zero was a discovery of Indian mysticism,” he avers. “We use the word soonya for zero, indicating the mystical worth of emptiness.”
But Paras can never think of living in emptiness of any sort. He loves to have as many things as possible around him. A fleet of cars in front of the house, all the available amenities and gadgets inside the house.
He has a lot of pet theories too. For example, “all revolutionary bursts of genius took place in the first decade of the century.” Paras goes on to explain, “Whether it is literature or sculpture, architecture or physical sciences, major breakthroughs came in the first decade of a century. Dante began his Inferno in 1302 soon after the poet’s banishment from Florence. Michelangelo carved his David from a single block of marble in 1501. Cervantes’s Don Quixote tilted at his first windmill in 1604. Beethoven’s greatest symphonies were composed in the first decade of the 19th century. Einstein propounded his theory of relativity in 1905...”
“The computer and the internet did not come in the first decade of any century,” I dared to point out.
“The revolutionary changes in those sciences came in the first decade of the 21st century,” Paras asserted.
I didn’t point out that all his examples came from the West although he upheld the superiority of Eastern mysticism and mythology. I knew he would deliver a protracted discourse on the relative superiority of mysticism and mythology over prosaic science and technology.
When his son studying at Harvard told him over the phone that he was going to marry an American friend of his, Paras said, “Divorces are more common than marriages in that country.” What he meant was that his son would eventually find his permanent partner in the land of mysticism and mythology, after divorcing his wife from the other land.
“Which would you like really to happen?” I ventured to ask. “Your belief coming true or your son living a happy married life?”
“Well, my son’s singular case won’t alter history, will it?”