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Not the world wide web and the glories of the Information Age; rather, What women want.

Recent excavations at the city of Pomplaneum in central Italy have unearthed an engraved tablet which contains the first few lines of a groundbreaking treatise by Ovidirgil. The great philospher has posed a question to the reader “What is it indeed that women want?” The remaining text of the inscription has been lost. Oh what luck!

A team of archaeologists led by Dr Johnson Herbert started excavating nearby areas in earnest to get to the bottom of this eternal question and once and for all solve the riddle (and since it is not Russia, it is not wrapped in a Mystery which is inside an enigma, thank God). The team did manage to find such inscriptions as a recipe for dry smoked fish, an ode to sea urchins, a love letter penned by an angry wife, and a mason’s training tablet for engraving the letter “v”. But, the rest of the inscription? The search continued.

Dr Herbert hails from the University of Harbridge. His roommate Dr Bentham Clarke is currently the chair of Psychology as Oxinceton. They were once the best of friends. No buttered toast was consumed whole in that room. Nay. It was always cut into half. But, rumour / legend has it that there was an alcohol induced evening when things were said and comments were not reserved. The true narration of events, we shall never know. Suffice to say, the roommates fell out. There was the usual drama of allegations, barbs, comments, and the expected ownership trial for the twin lava lamps. One each now decorates the two offices across the world.

What started that fateful day in April did not end. The two erstwhile friends have been known to continue their sabre rattling to this day (yes, it is re and not er, thank you very much). Of course everyone remembers the incident when Dr Clarke was presenting a paper in Tokyo and Dr Herbert barged into the hall screaming “Chicandinanda” over and over again at the top of his lungs until Dr Clarke fainted on the stage. The rest of the incident is too gruesome to pen down, it must be left to the memory of the reader to construct the actual procession of affairs. It was a sad day for the world of Academia indeed.

I digress.

The discovery of the inscription caused an overpowering sense of human competition and reverge to rear it’s ugly bottle green head. Dr Clarke declared in the Londaris Tribune Star that “We must not endebt ourselves to the knowledge of the ancients so completely, I will myself lead a research team to ‘discover‘ what women want”. The Tribune Star reports that the comments of Dr Herbert when asked for his opinion to this statement could not be published because of editorial reasons and newspaper policy against the usage of French.

Dr Herbert managed to get a grant from the government to enhance his team of excavators through the good offices of his brother. Dr Clarke received funding from the International Masculinist Union for research to be conducted across five culturally different countries to get to the final answer. Newspapers carried these updates on the development of the projects sparingly. The Pakistani media spend five minutes during each newscast to cover the subject along with songs, polemics and newscaster dance sequences to sensationalize the competition between the two eminent doctors. One channel was banned after a semi nude dance by the newscasters; after parents complained to the local feudal lord on the long term repurcussions on children.

Dr Herbert’s team kept finding liquor bottles, steles, inscriptions, and the odd statue. Dr Clarke’s team kept interviewing, testing, and analysing woman after woman. The race was heating up. Both teams would declare regularly that the end of their search is nigh and victory will be theirs. No one paid attention to Rev Adams comment that it should have been about the truth and not personal egos. Naqqar khanay main tooti ki awaaz. As the days dragged on Pakistani talk show hosts found themselves utterly unable to disentangle rabid guests during virulent debates on the competition.

Then, on the ides of March, the Editor in Chief of the Tribune Star got a phonecall during this well deserved vacation in the Lepontine Alps. “Eddie, I have the result of my quest. Eureka! I have finally found the answers, I will give you the exclusive story if you print it tomorrow”. Eddie (sic) could hardly disagree with such a proposal.

The next day’s front page of the Tribune Star (both print and website versions) carried the following news item “Answer found (no, it is not 42)”. Below it the subtitle ran, “Both teams discover the answer on the same day, and guess what, it is the same answer”. What women really want is just two things. Firstly, to be the most important entity in the eyes of the beholder, and Secondly, to always be the victorious one in an argument. Over a cup of morning tea the Turkish President’s wife turned to her husband and declared “I told you so”, to which Mr Pasha replied “Yes dear”. He had been the wiser.

The President of the French Academy of Sciences had called a meeting with both the Doctors the next day. The solemnity of the occasion precluded any misbehaviour on part of the two men. During the meeting, to the horror of all present, Dr Herbert suddenly turned to Dr Clark. Kaato to khoon naheen. And he said, “I am sorry I called you a vapid narcissistic windbag”. The sighs of relief were heard all the way to Fontainbleu. Dr Clark looked at Dr Herbert, all eyes intently fixated upon him, and said, “I am sorry I called you a fat idiot”. Tears came to the eyes of Monsieur le President. Kiss and make up is too small an explanation for what ensued.

One week hence the Doctors were standing in front of an oven, trying to bake a cake. Their wives were sitting by the pool sipping Lemonades. Mrs Clarke remarked to no one in particular “Men are so stupid”. Mrs Herbert sighed and said “I agree”.

::Dedicated to my wife who had neither of these two shortcomings and is ready to prove this in the coming years::

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