To Dear Or Not To Dear, That Is The Question

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I met an old friend the other day, reader, and that is the explanation for your demotion.

Keen eyed and regular readers of this column (and why would you want to be otherwise?) will note that my tone in that opening sentence was not my genial, easy going self.

They will have come to this eagle eyed deduction on account of the fact that they simply cannot have missed the fact that I have dropped my usual adjective before the word ‘reader’. It is how I have referred to you over these past months, reader, by describing you as you are: dear to me.

You, fellow netizen, peruser of the interwebs, surveyor of billions and billions of pages online – you have chosen to spend time on this website, on this column, when you could have been watching feline creatures on YouTube. How else could I describe you? Of course you are dear to me.

You have showed exemplary choice, exceedingly fine judgment and an unparalleled sense of discernment in choosing to read this column. ‘Dear’, if anything, is an understatement.

But you know how friends are, right? Especially the kind that are old, and even more especially the ones that are good. Worse of all, perhaps, are the ones that lie at the intersection of those two categories, because they don’t do any other kind of lying. They will not beat around the bush, they will not mince their words and they will not hide stuff from you.

And so it was with this old, good friend. We were chatting of this, that and the other when we met the other day, and one thing led to another, and we chanced upon the topic of this very column. I have been at it, I proudly informed him, for more than a year. Since our friendship has been formed primarily on the basis of both of us being unparalleled in the Art of Procrastination, I had a very receptive audience.

After ooh-ing and aah-ing for an appropriate length of time, however, said friend dropped the bombshell.

“You know what?”, he said, absent-mindedly looking out of the window of the car in which we were sitting, “I think you are a great writer”.

I started to rearrange my facial features to show an appropriate ratio of chiefly two emotions (pleasure and modesty).

“But I think you use the phrase ‘dear reader’ far too often”, he continued.

I rapidly changed the order to another set of more appropriate emotions (indifference and mild curiosity)

“And also ‘yours truly’,” he continued as he stared out the window some more, for he is a man hard to stop when in full flow, “I think you should cut that out as well.”

I was by now on the verge of (outright rage and utter befuddlement).

“Apart from that, I think you write really well, dude. You really do”, he said, as he turned to look back at me.

(Pensive reflection and deep appreciation of meaningful feedback)

And then we went on to speak of where to pick up beer from, and that was that about the writing. That was four days ago.

And there matters lay until I started writing this column three hours ago, reader, and it was supposed to be about dahi vadas. But you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what I said about those vadas and that curd, because it has taken me one hundred and eighty minutes to stop calling you a dear reader.

You still are one, just so we’re clear. It’s just that I just can’t get myself to call you that anymore.

(Baffled anger and utter frustration)

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni