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Murphy versus Coelho

Posted on 13/06/2021 by Trivia – the Spice of Life

Have you ever wondered how there is space for diametrically opposite views on life? I guess that is because each day is different. One day could be Murphy’s and the very next Coelho’s. Let me just juxtapose the two schools of thought below for better impact and understating.

 If anything can't go wrong on its own, someone will make it go wrong.
Murphy's Fourteenth Law 
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

There are days when you wake up and everything starts going wrong – even the simplest of things that you took for granted. The milkman does not deliver the right quantity/brand of milk; the remaining milk at home gets spilt accidentally; unannounced guests drop in and you have to offer them some hot beverage; you realize that the sugar is also over. You then begin to feel that this is just a trailer of what is in store for you for the rest of the day.

You want to reach your workplace early as there is an important meeting but your driver decides to play truant this very day, of all days. The next half an hour is spent frantically arranging for an alternative mode of transport. When you finally reach office, just in time for the meeting, you remember that a printout of the notes for the meeting has to be taken. The printer begins to behave funny. Paper gets stuck and if that were not enough, the cartridge gets over. When you finally deal with this and get your papers in order, you hear that the meeting has been postponed to the post lunch slot. All your plans of taking the afternoon off for some pressing personal work are ruined. You begin to feel that the entire world has conspired against you. You feel persecuted. This is the perfect Murphy day – If anything can’t go wrong on its own, someone will make it go wrong. Just that you don’t know who/what set the ball rolling!

Now look at another day – the Coelho kind of day. There are a few things you have passionately wanted to do or pined for, since long. You have moved heaven and earth but have failed to make a headway. To begin with, you have been trying to desperately trace an old school friend just to re-connect with her. Google and all similar platforms have not yielded any results. And suddenly, you have an unknown number calling you on your mobile. You take the call rather circumspectly. And then you find that it is the same school friend calling you!!

Apart from wanting to speak to your old friend since long, you have badly wanted some recognition of initiatives that you have undertaken at your workplace. As you finish speaking to your long lost friend, you receive communication that the head of the organization you work for is making an impromptu visit to your workplace. You nervously prepare for the visit. The visit goes off well with a pat on the back.

Another ardent wish you have is to possess a particular kind of coffee mug which is available only in Darjeeling. The one you bought when you visited Darjeeling is broken. Despite your best efforts, you have not been able to buy a replacement. When you spotted it on an online platform and ordered it, you found that the product delivered was completely different from what you had ordered. The same was returned with a heavy heart. You even called the hotel where you stayed during your visit at Darjeeling to enquire if they could courier you the mug but they very ungraciously refused.

Your colleague from a sister organization has gone on a holiday to Darjeeling and knows that you have been pining for the coffee mug as you have passionately described it (the mug) to her on an earlier occasion. Just as you are returning from work very smug and pleased with yourself after all the appreciation you received (at your workplace), your colleague sends you a picture of the mug from a store in Darjeeling and asks you if the mug she has chosen for you as a gift is the one you were looking for. You are elated! You immediately respond with a thumping yes!!! You begin to feel that today was the day when all your wishes would have been granted. Just that you have perhaps not been that passionate about the rest of them. This is the perfect example of a Coelho kind of day.

The moral of the story is that if today belongs to Murphy, do not get disheartened, as tomorrow could be Coelho’s.

4 thoughts on “Murphy versus Coelho

  1. Anita,
    Nice post. Where can I get Murphy’s other 13 laws? I had heard its simpler version, “If anything can go wrong, it will”. And Coelho’s Law was restated by Shahrukh Khan in ‘Om Shanti Om’ – ‘Yadi kisi cheez ko shiddat se chaaho to poori kaaynaat usko tumse milaane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai.


  2. Thanks for reading, AKji! As rightly pointed out by you, the generic law of Murphy is “If anything can go wrong, it will”, which is what figures as the featured image of the post. Over time, many corollaries have been added to this generic law by several people. Let me add here that there is no sanctity as far as these go and it is almost like folklore that has got added.

    The laws are listed here :-'s%20Fourteenth%20Law%3A%20If%20anything,will%20make%20it%20go%20wrong.


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