Friday, February 12, 2010

Cat on a Wall

The legal philosopher John Finnis argued that there are seven ‘basic goods’ in human life – goods that are fundamental, self-evidently good and irreducible to other things. There is much that I disagree with in the philosophy of Finnis, but there is one thing I like about this particular theory. The seven basic goods include such serious and weighty matters as Life, Knowledge and Religion, but – and this is what I like about his theory – Play is among them too. Finnis defines play as “performances which have no point beyond the performance itself, enjoyed for its own sake.”

Last night I went to Tibetan Delight to eat pan-fried momos. While I ate, I could hear an altercation in the background between the waiter who looks like Jimmy Neutron and the lady who sits at the cash counter (who I think is his mother).

After the meal, walking through the narrow alley that connects Tibetan Delight to the real world, I spotted a cat on a wall. There was a telephone wire stretched above the wall, and from it hung a pebble on the end of a string. The pebble was swinging like a pendulum, and the cat’s head went back and forth as she followed its motion. When the pebble came to rest, the cat stood up on her hind legs, stretched upwards, and with a light swipe of her paw, set the pebble swinging again.

I watched this performance for sometime, then Jimmy Neutron came out of the restaurant and joined me. Then his mother came out too, and the three of us stood there, silently watching the cat. After five or six swipes, the cat tired of the game, and with that air of supreme unconcern that only cats can muster, it walked away.

Until I saw the cat, I wasn’t in a particularly cheerful mood, because I’d seen two movies that evening, neither of which I understood. Jimmy Neutron didn’t look too cheerful either, perhaps because of the altercation. And his mother is one of those people who hardly ever look cheerful. But as we went our separate ways – Jimmy Neutron and his mother back to the restaurant and I to the bus stop – all three of us had silly grins on our faces.

11 comments:

Kro said...

Tibetan delight.
You bastard!!!!!!!

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Tibetan Delight, incomprehensible movies and a cool cat? What a day :D

Anindita said...

hey!! my first comment :-)
have you tried this place called "the blue poppy" at sikkim house?
its awesome.. unlike tibetan delight where the pan-fried momos are just well... hot!! blue poppy has a milder sauce in which you can taste the garlic. and the place makes better kothey and it actually serves the shephaley!!! try it once at least..

rorschach said...

very nice post. thank you for sharing it.

Rahul Saha said...

Performance cannot be for no reason. Performance, whether it be in the arts, math, sport or even in business and commerce is for the sole purpose of achieving orgasm (usually sexually but, at times, other things, like standing ovations, can trigger the same endorphins).

I know Archie is secretly thinking, what is this guy on, he sees cats. I got to get some of that.

Karthty said...

Firstly Tibetian Delight...that noodle soup...sigh!

Secondly Cat Post! Yay! There's no way of escaping them.

Thirdly, there should be a word to explain your attempts of marrying jurisprudence with almost anything :D

ಕವನ said...

How do cats always manage to get a look that convinces anyone that even failing was intentional and therefore, a success?

Anushka said...

Cats, have style. There is a reason why someone like Eliot was obsessed with them.

Priyanka said...

I had a heartwarming comment I cannot remember now, but since Blogger's allowing me to post comments now I'll mention how I was reminded of the How she starts! Crouches, stretches, paws, and darts! bit we were made to learn in school. See, another heartwarming comment.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post.

Sroyon said...

@Kro: Yeah well...

@Shrabasti: Could have done without the incomprehensible movies. :-/

@Anindita: This is not in fact your first comment.

@rorschach: That's what blogs are for. :D

@Saha: I didn't get the comment about Archie. If it's an in-joke, I demand that you furnish an explanation.

@Karthty: Learn to spell your name right.

@ಕವನ: I don't know.

@Anushka: Speaking of cat poems, have you seen this?

@Priyanka: We learnt this too! But I suspect the Lost Comment would have been more heartwarming.

@Anonymous: Thank you.