A life without an if

Can you believe this? A couple of them actually took the advertising tests in the post Mind is no Kodak theatre, and even mailed me their answers. Must say, some of their answers were good fun. To those who have forced me to judge them, I’d be diplomatic and say, ‘Advertising and you deserve better than each other.’

Considering how traumatic school exams are, shouldn’t people be allergic to any kind of tests. Instead, I see most people going in for these voluntarily.

I, too, am a big sucker when it comes to such tests, especially the Know Your Score kinds. I find myself peering at these pages in a magazine, drooling. Just the way teens react to Centre Spreads and uncles to Agony Aunt columns.

I have attempted innumerable such tests in private, away from public glare so that their revelations remain within closed bathroom doors. Bad scores are promptly flushed down, good ones are made public in a ‘Oh, that’s no big deal’ way.

Over the years I’ve become quite a pro when it comes to these tests, and am qualified to give some of you beginners a tip or two.

Firstly beware; these tests can leave incurable scars on your self-esteem. The scars of my first attempt at ‘How Creative Are You?’ took a long time healing. It had defined my creativity as that of a clerk in a post office. It sure sounded like the bottom of the pile score, but I wasn’t sure how bad. For months, I kept going to post offices to chat up with the clerks there, just to know where I stood. Until one day they asked me to buzz off if all I wanted to know was whether they had written any screenplays.

But that was many years ago. Today if I take the same test, I’d score a high ‘Da Vinci’ or ‘Einstein’ and floor unsuspecting onlookers. That’s because over time anyone can crack the formats of such tests. It’s not about which option best describes you; it is which option gets you high scores. Experience tells you that. So now, even if I’m a D, I tick on B. Simple.

In fact, I’m so confident that I encourage my wife to bring me those Husband tests in the women’s magazines that she brings home. Effortlessly, I hit the top scores, test after test and get appreciative hugs from her. For days after that she goes about life in the illusion that she has bagged the world’s best husband, until the effect wears thin and reality shows up. Thank God, these magazines are fortnightlies.

The real problem, as always, is kids- when they challenge you with the IQ tests in their magazines. Guessing doesn’t work here. You’ve got to derive the right answers, unless you have seen them beforehand. Otherwise be prepared for some terribly embarrassing scores in front of your wife and kids. (I am assuming, that as readers of this blog, your scores aren’t going to be very different from mine. Or have I insulted you?) Believe me, it is not nice to be labelled as the world’s best husband and the world’s dumbest father at the same time.

So, next time someone throws an IQ test at you, prefer to go online. The online ones invariably hang while calculating scores. That way you can interpret yours as ‘too high to compute’.

The tests that I hate are those that throw up cryptic results- those that are tougher to crack than their questions. For instance, a Libido test likened mine to that of a zebra. Now what does that mean? I’ve never seen a zebra at it, so how am I to tell? All I can do is convince myself that it is better than rats, rabbits and cockroaches but lesser than giraffes, elephants and dinosaurs. Size matters, or so I presume for convenience.

Similarly, I’ve scored a potato in Sex Appeal, an iced tea in Emotion, a circle in Lateral Thinking (or was it a zero?), a sea lion in Ambition and a kaleidoscope in Clarity of Mind.

Meaningless results. They don’t tell you anything, do they? I hope not.

The tests you should by all means avoid are the ones in the waiting rooms of professionals. Never trust the tests about Hair Types at parlours, the ones on Fashion Sense found at boutiques, those on Eating Habits at the dietician’s, on Illness Symptoms at clinics. I once took a Personality test while waiting for Dr. Goel, and ended up with a ‘Goat’. Even today I don’t know how he managed to rig it to make it patient specific. But they all do. Trust me.

The best test I’ve ever come across is the one on LIFE. It had only five questions, no scores, no winners, no losers, no vague comparisons to animals, objects, vegetables and shapes. It just left you with a simple lesson. I’ve reproduced it here for you. Take it in all earnest.

Your LIFE Test


  • All 5 questions have to be answered in English.
  • All 5 questions have to be answered orally/mentally. Do not use paper and pen/pencil.
  • No time limit. Take your time.
  • There are no options. Read all 5 questions carefully before answering them.


  1. If you had a choice between getting Rs.1 crore right now and getting Rs.10 lakhs every year for the rest of your life, what would you opt for?
  2. If you had to choose between becoming a divorcee and a widow/widower, what would you prefer?
  3. If you were given the power of bringing to life one dead person, would you use it to bring back a loved one who had died many many years ago, or would you use it on your maid’s husband who died yesterday?
  4. If you had to choose between being ‘rich but hated’ and ‘poor but loved’, what would it be?
  5. Think of all your loved ones and laugh aloud three times. Don’t bother to answer any of the above questions.


See? Some of us go through LIFE without reading its instructions carefully, and end up wasting a lot of time and effort in grappling with LIFE’s toughest questions, when in reality they are insignificant, hypothetical and unnecessary. This is LIFE’s biggest lesson- Ignore the IF in LIFE and you will be left with just the L (laughter and love) until the very E, the End.

Psst…I’d like to add to that. Without F (food, family, friends, fun, frolic and all the other Fs you might come up with) LIFE is one big LIE.

Was that too dumb? Sorry.

Alas, IQ tests are true.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kumar ganesan on November 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Sri Sri Sri Rabindranath. That’s what I’m going to call you from now on. Keep them coming.


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