How to stop being a pseudo-intellectual and start earning respect after your move to India

by neo

Anulom Vilom Pranayama

Neo’s grandma is just the funniest and the most devastatingly logical person you will ever meet. During Neo’s recent vacation, when his uncle was in the middle of an interminably long soliloquy on pranayama, Neo’s grandma stopped him with “Nonsense. Claiming that using alternate nostrils is beneficial to your breathing is like claiming that eating from alternate sides of your mouth is beneficial to your diet.”

Neo laughed so hard he had kheer streaming out of (both) his nostrils. (The other eleven people around the table were silent.)

It should be hard for any self-respecting scientific mind to understand Neo’s uncle’s claim that alternately breathing through your left and right nostrils somehow helps regulate the two halves of your brain – especially after you consider Neo’s grandma’s brilliant point – that air enters the same windpipe, and that oxygen is equally absorbed by both lungs regardless of which nostril it entered from.

Garlic sensation.

Unfortunately, not all of Neo’s older relatives are scientifically-minded. Many have a love-hate relationship with science. They love science when it appears to prove their traditional beliefs (e.g. the health benefits of turmeric). They simultaneously hate science when it challenges traditions (e.g. the health benefits of garlic). (Many in Neo’s family will not hesitate to give you all sorts of mumbo-jumbo reasons to avoid garlic).

Neo has realized (a little too late) that the quickest way to get labeled as a pseudo-intellectual in his family is to unflinchingly champion the cause (and supremacy) of science.

To avoid Neo’s fate, you must appear to be a “moderate believer in science”. You need to demonstrate the capacity to “believe” in the science behind say an automobile or a computer, but refuse to believe in the science (or the YouTube video) that shows that Sathya Sai Baba is a fraud, and cannot generate ash or gold chains out of thin air. That is the sort of “open mind” that will earn you the respect of many in Neo’s extended family.

Speaking of open minds – during the Mumbai terror attacks, Neo wondered aloud why superhuman yogis were not volunteering to storm the Taj hotel instead of the mundane army commandos.

Only his grandma laughed.

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