Sunday, May 03, 2009

Rubik's Cube: A Guide to not appearing Stupid

We, the chummy male company enriched, happy go lucky, sniggering, T-shirt wearing, loud desis found ourselves to be complete misfits in the ToysRUs store. After failing to find the game we had hoped to purchase, my friend Kunal and I found Rubik Cubes stacked up in the adjacent shelf. Succumbing to unexplained temptations, we each ended up purchasing one.

As we left the store, we faced typical post-purchase dissonance pangs. We gazed at the multicoloured cube, unsure about whether it would serve any purpose in our lives. Eventually I spoke in favour. "Hey we can use it to kill time while waiting at the bus stop.". His eyes lit up.

The movie Pursuit of Happyness may have revived popularity of this mathematical contraption. But real life serves it up differently. Even on bus stops, a person makes his first impression with these accessories. While the venue does have a congregation of people who have no role to play in your life, it is still important to make a good impression. Appearing cool is highly underrated. So here's a brief list:

Playing on a video Game Console - nerd
Gazing and doing nothing - general guy
Tik-tik on mobile phone - general guy with a mobile phone
Tik-tik on Blackberry - show off / workaholic
Clicking pictures with friend at bad angles - self absorbed nut
Reading a book - intellectual (assuming it's not a comic)

Now with a Rubik's cube, you have to walk a thin line between appearing intellectually superior and downright retarded. There are 2 simple guidelines.

No 1 - Don't frown with crunched eyebrows. That's the first sign of mental degradation. What is a genuine mathematical perplexity in your head, will seem to others like an intense motor struggle to turn the cube. In this society, not appearing retarded is a higher priority than solving a mathematical puzzle.
No 2 - Always look like you are on track. Unless you follow the cheat sheet they provide with the cube, or look up the procedure online, it is unlikely you will solve it. Still, it is important you fake it.

Also, a Rubik Cube does not share the same space as books. Do not share it with your friends. The desire to solve a Rubik Cube is a mirage, a delusion which dissapears the moment you possess it. Your friends, if they do insist and borrow the cube, will ditch it 30 seconds after they play around and fail to make any progress. I first portrayed this behaviour in Kharagpur, when I borrowed it from a mellow research student in the department who could not find enough reasons to refuse. The cube stayed inert in my room for a couple of months. Then one day a boisterous wingmate barged into my room and got overcome by the typical desire to conquer the cube. When his brains failed him, his muscles took control and in one swift motion it crumbled into cube fractals and died. I spent the next few years avoiding conversation with the bearded researcher.

This time I hope to solve it all the way without destroying the cube. I am sceptical whether I'll receive cheers or ovations from indifferent bus stop junta. But to all my friends in Singapore, stay away from the cube. It's an addiction!

5 comments:

  1. Hahahhaha good one! Though m not sure it is an addiction... I would call it more towards frustration!! It is one of those satanic inventions which makes one loose sleep and go completely berserk!!

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  2. I disagree that the Rubik's cube can be an addiction. Once u know how to solve it, there is no charm left in it. It becomes very mechanical and more of a show off, rather than a time-killing device.

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  3. Ahh the rubik's cube, I was always disappointed by the quality of the glue on the colored strips. A few switches here and there and the glue would wear off, but as a kid you learn to 'adjust' :)
    Btw any luck yet?

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  4. @Mainak,

    I don't agree. Even when you can solve it , you can always search for better ways to do it. Or even more interestingly , try solving for better positions - for instance a rubik's cube with all the cubes at the right place except two corner cubes turned clockwise and anti-clockwise and so on.
    At least i do still have fun with it and I first solved it when I was in 9th or so (read 7 years ago)

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  5. @ Dawn: 9th class ? really ? wow!

    @ Renu: sigh....it's been three weeks since the purchase. The cube is still lying on my desk! no progress whatsoever...

    @ Mainak: Does anyone really show off with a rubik cube? I feel it has quite less of charm than what you perceive...

    @ Neha (worldthrumyeyes): Haven't gone down that path yet. But I am sure I will soon!

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