Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Twin Paradox

Statutory warning: This has nothing to do with Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Over the years I have come across a lot of inquisitive souls. And the most commonly asked question has been about my childhood: how it was to grow up with a photocopy/mirror image of myself or in short "How it feels to grow up with an identical twin?" .. and so I thought of writing this ... just to give them a glimpse ... after all you don't get to see a lot of identical twins around! ......

We came into this world in the August of 1982, weighing four and a half pounds each; with hard little knots of muscle in our arms and legs that our mother said came from fighting in the womb. And I think she was correct, because we were the living embodiment of the cliché about brothers who beat the hell out of each other but team up to defend each other against anyone else.

Most of our early childhood was spent on risking life and limb with daredevil stunts. Like the time we saw that man on TV (later I knew he was Mr. AB) beating hell out of another guy, and went to the bedroom and tried to cut off each others head by using a sliding door of the dressing table! We were pretty good, as well as I can recall; we came really close, but nobody got beheaded that day. In the later years our fights became more competitive, I exactly knew what his next move would be ... and so did he !! Therefore in most cases the result was a bi-lateral damage and mostly needed a third party intervention with force (read mom or dad or both)!!!

Being kids we thought that we have supernatural powers. This idea was further re-inforced by the hindi movies (specially the 70s,80s n mid 90s stuff) where they showed the highest level of wireless communication possible :... yess between twin brothers! We saw twins transferring data, sound, videos (probably more than 1000 GBs!!)etc etc etc ... just by thought!!! Needless to say, after several failed attempts (specially during exams) to replicate the superhuman feats depicted by those human beings on screen, we were convinced that reality sucks. But people around us didn’t seem to believe that! Because they kept asking "Do u feel the pain if someone pinches your bro?"(!!!!@#$%@#$%) . Now I wish I could say "Yes" .. and make a fool out of them!!! .. But, back in those days, I was not that mean ! (am talking about III-IV standard).

Although mother nature didn’t allow us the supernatural powers, but it did give us an added advantage over others, and that is the “confusion” associated with identical twins like us: Teachers, friends, x, y, z ... no one can call you by your name. Everyone seems to be apprehensive - in case they "hurt your sentiments" by calling you by your brother's name!! For most of our childhood, teachers, friends and some relatives tended to address us as if we were one person! BUT to tell you the truth it never mattered to us! On the contrary, this confusion helped me more than once when I was a kid, like when I committed some crime in school.. and my naive brother faced the consequences !!!! Therefore as a kid it was a good cover for both of us .. depending on the situation :)

By now, you must be jealous of all the twins in this world! So, to make you guys feel a little better I will tell you that everything was not that smooth and fun. Being twins has its downside too: First, when you are a kid you are MADE to wear similar dresses.. and hence you become the center of public attention everywhere. Now that’s the norm for all twin kids … people around you seem to enjoy the ‘double trouble’ !!! But ask any twins and am sure you will understand how frustrating it is!! Then as you grow up you gain your "rights" and can now stand up against the "inhuman dressing torture" inflicted by your parents .. so you consciously wear different colors and dresses . But now that you are growing up, you have to pay the price for it. And like all of you, bhowmick twins also had to pay the price:
Firstly, we both got caught more than any of the other trouble-makers did in school, because everybody recognized us. Someone would see a bunch of boys bunking classes or involved in a fight, or whatever the particular offense was, and call the authorities to report: "I saw a bunch of boys doing (whatever). I couldn’t recognize any of them, but I know the Bhowmick twins were there (even if only 1 of us was present)." The Bhowmick twins always got caught, even when we weren’t guilty. If there were any two boys in a group who happened to look alike, the Bhowmick twins got the blame !!!

Secondly, while Bhowmick twins were a strong united force against any enemy, they started having issues as they grew up, which resulted in occasional disputes among them: I must mention here (and you will know why) that all this happened for the last time in college ... and thankfully it has never happened again. But this was an issue that kept us busy from school days till the last day in college (before we got physically separated by distance). The problem was .. our similar genetics always made us admire the same girl !!!! ... Wait !! dont get a shock !! .. I told you it stopped at the end of college!! So STOP your imagination from going wild !!!! Anyways, we soon found a solution to this problem !! - Thankfully there were more than one name.. "almost" EVERY TIME and so we always had an EASY SOLUTION when the number was EVEN .. BUT in case of ODD numbers, it was a diplomatic nightmare! Under such circumstances the deal generally made sure that "you pay a heavy price for attending the 'target' un-interrupted" .. that meant loosing your rights to choose a dress, shoes, watches or even the "equal share of cigarettes and pegs" ... for almost a month! Hence, a detailed scrutiny of the "subject" involved was mandatory before you sign the deal (NB: For women activists: please dont screw me for these words, its a joke after all!!) .... Good old days !!! :(

(I can go on and on and on writing about the exploits of and the experience of being the Bhowmick Twins, but am sure that some of my readers are slowly moving towards that little red cross sign at the top right corner of this page. So ... I will try and wrap it up ..)

Today when I look back I realize how important it is to have a twin brother. Because when you are a kid or a teen (the two most vulnerable stages of life) its your twin who is the only person on earth who can understand you the best. He is the only person with whom you can share anything and everything AND he is the only person who ensures that you always have a "partner in crime" ... and hence that way the "punishment" gets shared!!! (Even if it involves the heinous crime of "re-scoring" the mark sheets.. or bunking the ever boring Brilliant's / NICS exams !!) .
Ask me, and I will say, those were the wonder years! Although things have changed now e.g we do not fall for the same girl anymore except for gals like ……. (that’s a classified info), we do not look exactly same now, and the Bhowmick Twins are no more the “notorious” bhowmick Twins, BUT as they say , old habits die hard .. still today if I make a mistake …… its always his idea ;)