Suresh Menon

Could he pos­si­bly be out­wit­ted by his smart­phone. No, we hear you cry!

Friday - - Contents - Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world, but later de­cided to leave it as it is.

Un­til a few years ago, I was con­sid­ered the smartest man in our lo­cal­ity. There were oth­ers older and wiser, but if you needed some­one to con­sult re­gard­ing in­come tax or the best movie in town or the ideal match for your daugh­ter, or in­deed to write two suc­ces­sive sen­tences with­out a gram­mat­i­cal er­ror, then I was your man. My wife is much smarter, but she is too smart to let on, and is thus left alone to work.

But grad­u­ally my sphere of in­flu­ence be­gan to shrink. Some­one moved in who had been with the UN, and soon I was barely the smartest man in my own street.

But there was one ti­tle I held on to – the smartest man in my fam­ily. Soon that was eroded too. My son was do­ing a PhD in an es­o­teric field (well, phi­los­o­phy, ac­tu­ally), and some­how that seemed to count for more than my grey­ing hair and win­ning smile.

When for­mer Aus­tralian cricket cap­tain SteveWaugh sledged an English player, point­ing out that he had no busi­ness play­ing Test cricket be­cause he was the worst bats­man in the coun­try, the English­man re­sponded, “But at least (un­like you) I am the best bats­man in my own fam­ily” – a ref­er­ence to Steve’s bats­man brother Mark.

And then, as I said, my son took over. All was well un­til re­cently when all of us came face to face with the smart­phone – by some dis­tance the smartest in the lo­cal­ity, on the street, and sad to say, in the fam­ily.

My son could still quote Plato and Kant, and on a cricket field I could still iden­tify an outswinger, but the smart­phone could give you the com­plete unabridged works of Plato and Kant (and a few hun­dred oth­ers) as well as de­cide whether or not the outswinger had taken the edge of the bat in a tight sit­u­a­tion.

It could, if you pushed the right but­tons, find a match for the son of a friend down the street, work out his tax re­turns, play a rock al­bum in full, as well as book air­line tick­ets and write a short novel all on the same day. Talk about multitasking! A later gen­er­a­tion phone smart enough to han­dle an ear­lier one might even work out how to put a man, or at least a phone, on the moon.

The smart­phone is the new cham­pion on the street. So how does it feel to be ex-cham­pion, you ask? Well, I’ll have to check with my phone first.

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