Yesterday I was dreaming about these actual conversations I had with seemingly normal, rational people. I remember each of these conversations really well, mostly because they were so dazzlingly stupid and they have the potential to entertain me even now, years (or months or days) later. And because very few things in life can make me laugh when I'm asleep.
Conversation One (with a cousin who is a software engineer, God save her soul. It happened when I was in second year of college).
Cousin: So you're studying history.
C: As in, what's the point?
Me: What's the point in software engineering?
C: It's relevant today. What I do makes a difference. How does it make a difference if you study about dead people?
Me: *mouth open, jaw slack*
C: I mean, what is the use of studying the past when you can't do anything about it?
Me: It may surprise you to realize that you've been studying history all your life.
C: No, no, I was very glad to get rid of it after Class X.
Me: All history isn't called 'History'.
Me: Everything that you learned in your course; every sum, every code, every theorem, every formula - that is the history you studied. Without it, every generation would have to start at zero. We would need to rediscover gravity, heliocentrism, DNA, the fact that certain chemicals smell like rotten eggs, over and over and over again. You spent four years studying the history of software engineering. I'm studying the history of people. My learning is relevant because I can perceive this and you can't.
C: But how is studying a formula history?
Me: Because someone before you created that formula which is why you're using it today. And everytime you use it, you are using the past to understand your present.
C: Doesn't make sense. I still think history's useless.
Me: You'll be your children's history. I hope they don't feel the same way about you. I'm going to bed.
And I went to bed, angry as hell.
Conversation Two (with a random 'family friend', after I'd opted for Humanities after Class X).
FF: So, you're going to be the next engineer in the family, aye?
Me: What?! No! I'm studying Humanities.
FF: Humanities? Oh you mean Arts. But why? You did well in your exams. Why Arts? You won't get ANY jobs.
Me: Please don't worry about me. Plenty of 'Arts' afflicted people manage to make a living.
FF: All nonsense. In the past it happened, yes. But now there's no way it can happen. In fact, all schools and colleges are going to shut their Arts faculties in two or three months. And why is your dad allowing you to do this?
Me: Must be nice to have all the inside information about school management decisions. And my dad's 'allowing' me coz it didn't occur to me to ask his permission and it didn't occur to him that I needed it.
FF: Change your stream while you can. Computers are the way to go these days.
Me: Okay, thanks. Now can I get some potatoes please?
Again, I was angry as hell. But then I considered the circumstances and realized that I shouldn't be mad. After all, he was a fifty year old grocer, not known for temperance or wisdom. Being a newlywed at 50 must be hard on the brains. And he did manage to run his grocery business into the ground.
But what made me laugh in my dream was wondering how a conversation between him and my software engineer cousin about the reasons why crazy kids study Arts might go.
Excuse me while I nap. The hilarity awaits.