Two questions have baffled mankind since the dawn of time. We must consider ourselves lucky to be living in times when these questions have been answered. Dr Murphy’s (of the Boston Murpheys) eminent “Compendium of Useful and Liberating Information” published in 1934 by the ChicagoNewPressHouse starts with the insightful sentence: It is a truth self evident that all toasts will fall buttered side down. Further research conducted during the initial years of the second world war led to Dr Murphy’s second highly acclaimed book “Felinity” which has the following clause written in large purple letters on the eighty third page “A cat will always land on it’s feet”.
Dr Tang, Senior Assistant Professor of the Peoples University of Xian had always been enamoured with the great classical writers. His perusal of Dr Murphy’s books coupled with his in depth knowledge of Aeronautical Technology, Physics and Mammalian Biology led to a great discovery. In a moment of rice wine induced cerebral greatness Dr Tang asked himself “What if a cat was tied to a toast such that the buttered side of the toast and the feet of the cat were touching each other”? The wheels were turning. Within a period of one year Dr Tang did experiment with cats and buttered toast. And; voila; he succeeded in making a combo that when thrown off a ledge would hover at a height of about seventy centimeters from the ground since neither the cat will land on its back, nor the toast on its dry side.
Corporate interests sniffing profits at the expense of intellectual magnificence and misused labour covered the earth like a dark cloud of malice and self interest. NewTech Inc decided to pursue the new technology and started a two year project with seventeen consultancy firms. After good advice was provided by the resident janitor Jason, the outsourcing project was cancelled and three in house engineers completed the work in five days. The product, apparently not very well understood by the marketing team, was marketed as a global panacea for all evils with a large poster of a young boy holding a small packet of the product and rabid wolves running away from the packet. In reality, it was a huge array of cats/buttered toast combos, wide enough to carry two cars going in opposite directions and long enough to link New York City with London. NewTech would use this array as a means of rapid transport between these two great cities cutting travel time to a paltry three hours.
It was two days before the inaugural ceremony of the trans atlantic tramway that Dr Iyer sitting in his comfortably air conditioned office in Chennai realized the folly of the enterprise. One word – Birds. If a bird was to come near the array the cat would want to hunt it, and, the bird would want to peck the buttered toast; causing serious consternation and a lot of heartache to all the travelers expecting a quick and non violent journey. Dr Iyer decided that it is times like these when his PhD in Evolutionary Feeding Behaviour will come into use. Mankind needed to be set free from questions pertaining to cats, birds and bread. He is currently conducting research to ensure a smooth trip from New York City to London. May God enable him to add more light to the world of knowledge.
Whilst the wheels of knowledge were turning in Chicago, Xian and Chennai a man of learning was sitting in his reading room in Karachi. Thinking. Pondering. Maulana Hamidi had been a resident of Saudi Arabia, but was thrown out of the Kingdom, because he had had an independent thought. His family cast him out, amidst the shrieks of his mother cursing her fertility and the police officer informing him that for committing the gravest of all crimes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (other than preaching tolerance) he will be banished to Pakistan. Maulana’s personal life story aside, when he read about the cat / buttered toast array, he just had to say the truth. Maulana Hamidi issued a Fatwa that since this technology was not available in the time of the Prophet and not even in the time of the Sahaba or the Tabaeen, it is Haraam for any Muslim to travel on the Trans Atlantic Tramway. Any married Muslim woman who still chooses to travel by this satanic bidaati mode of transport would have her Nikah annulled.
That this caused much unease to Mrs Khan hailing from Peshawar is one thing. The other being that the research on how to control the birds is still in progress in Chennai.
(Dedicated to Nida Masood, Fahd Rafi, Saad Masood Khan who helped in the development of this article on emergent technologies and ancient wisdom)