“He’s really smart, but…”

Me and a friend were having a conversation when this sentence trailed off and she completed it by saying “but what? If there’s a but, he’s a butt”. True, so true.

“Smart” takes on different meanings around the world. In India it is traditionally correlated with high marks, entrance exams, IIT, IIMs whereas in the Western world it means street-smartness and peripheral awareness as well. Or sometimes just that.

The “buts” mostly occur with Indians. Men, to be more specific. What difference do your degrees make if you are fundamentally an asshole? I’ve met very “smart” people who have been able to delude themselves using flawed logic that they would’ve otherwise trashed in a professional context. I’ve met very “smart” folk who couldn’t survive two minutes on the outside without a map and a swift kick in the butt. I’ve met “smart” folk who are mannerless gits. I’ve also met “smart’ folk who are perennially dissatisfied with their lot in life and are, worryingly, just as vituperative about yours.

I used to be a bit like that in India. Maybe it was peer pressure. Maybe our education system conditions us to be snobbish assholes conforming to a clear asshole-hierarchy in place with discrete, quantized states represented by our institutes of learning.

Now I regularly interact with people who are geniuses. Suave, talented smooth talkers who don’t have a chip on their shoulder about how many and which letters appear after their name.

And they use us “smart” people like the tools we are.

I’d rather we just observe, idolize, emulate and shut the fuck up about where we come from.



2 responses to ““He’s really smart, but…””

  1. Robi says :

    This is a brilliantly written diatribe. Love your work, man. Even if I have no idea who you are, what you write resonates strongly with me.

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