Saturday, June 27, 2009


Just as the plot thickens in the thin story-line, the entire starcast of the film burst into a dancing fit. Irked by this sudden outbreak of pelvic gyrations, I impulsively reached for the 'remote' to switch the channel. But I couldn't find it because I was watching the film in a movie theatre. And on the way back from the cinema, when a stray dog scurried acoss the path of my car, I involuntarily raised my right foot to brake hard only to miss the brake pedal by a yard. For, my friend was driving my car while I sat on passenger seat.

Call it the force of habit or conditioned reflex, It is one of the human foibles I had in profusion since my infancy as my mother bore out. As a babe in arms with a pee-when-you-like default mode, being potty-trained in a red chamber pot, I used to wet anyone clad in red who picked me up.

On a sunny day in my teens my favourite song Chahe koi mujhe jungli kahe.... wafted through the window and at the end of the refrain I shouted yaahooo in chorus with Mohamad Rafi. Then heads of the stundents in the class pivoted in my direction and the teacher threw me out calling me 'jungli'.

It's the same conditioned reflex that turned my job-typist friend's piano lessons into a nightmare because after playing a set of keys, his left hand kept groping for the carriage return lever. It's the force of habit that may put a professional trumpeter in a bit of a (gold)spot while trying to drink his lemonade through a straw, for he may keep on blowing bubbles into the drink. And a swayer endeavouring to play the violin may literally make a hash of it, weilding the bow like a rip-saw.

Lift a politician three feet above the ground and he will launch out into an extempore speech. But never ask a church bell-ringer to unfurl a flag on the Republic Day, for he may leave the flag in tatters with repeated tugs at the string.

Yes, we are all Pavlovian dogs spurred into action by the conditioned reflexes as in the case of an uncle of mine whose daily chores are set in 'motion' only when he reads the 'explosive' headlines in the morning newspaper.

And wasn't it the force of habit that made wine-seller-turned-elevator-salesman lose his job because he always his salestalk with a "good till the last drop" gaffe?

Note: From the link of Pavlovian dog Click Play-----> click drooling dog----> click bell. drum & tumpet to see the conditioned reflex.
Video Courtesy:

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