Friday, March 31, 2006

a slumbering giant

Rabindranath Tagore .. geetanjali:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

To wake a slumbering giant...
My country has not woken despite the prayers of this great man and so many more in from the ages past. If anything, from sleep, it is slipping into a comatose state.

Maybe it is the city I live in ... Bangalore ... but I doubt it is the entire country that is going in this direction.

Perhaps it is just the growth pains of a country where the age old tradition of living for values is being replaced for an urge to live for money .. and money only.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to earn money. The problem we face is that nobody wants to "earn" it. Easy money is the want of the day. How can i cheat the next guy and earn the extra buck ...

From the auto-wallah ... the physical incarnation of the biblical devil, to cops to the landlord, everyone wants money ... and "value for money" is just another phrase .. like "office of profit"?

Life is one big game of "deal ya no deal" and everyone wants to just win.

Every year, the budget gets announced and another 1000 plus crores gets allocated to roads .. where does all the money go? What is the point?

The incas .. no the mayans ... they used to plan their cities 400 years in advance. The most advanced countries in the world today probably paln about 20 to 50 years ahead. Our government on the other hand looks back in retrospect over what might have been a good thing to do while pocketing the money.

Forget all the big stuff ... every morning, I see people on my street cleaning their houses and putting a rangoli. Full of zeal and a desire to find a place in heaven (or US whichever is more convenient). The water drains from the porch to form puddles on the road ... the sweep of the broom ends at the virtual demarcation of property ... as long as my porch is clean, how does it matter if I have just swept it over to my neighbors?

Some politicians, who I am sure never have to work late in the office and take a two wheeler back home have decided to protect animals. Rabid dogs are therefore in vogue. Will this same politician who so vehemently protects the right of mad dogs, take care of the parents of the sole son who dies in a motorcycle crash coming home just because he is being chased by dogs?

Do gooders, bums all the same. When Pandora's box opened, all the evil came out ... but she initially left hope trapped inside. For the rest of the world, she opened it and finally hope came out to. Here, even to hope is to hope for too much!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

house keeping

Belatedly, I decided to clean up my blog and remove the link to the website that gives my name.

Though I know enough computerese to understand that anyone bull headed or pig headed enough can figure out who I am all the same. I probably know enough to prevent that as well ... but i claim not to be paranoid ... ummm .. i mean THAT paranoid.

Kinda difficult to write a blog when you are fighting on the IM with the only regular reader.

I wish there were more people that read my blog ... and I got nominated for some damn award as well ... I heard someone from Iraq got nominated... had a good mind to write a lil more about that .. but decided against it and deleted the lines. Just because no one is reading, doesn't mean that no one is watching either!!!

No point. Abort.. abort ... abort ...

being spontaneous

Haven't posted for a few days now. Blame it on my trying to be a little more organized then I generally tend to be. Thought I'd compose my blogs off-line in word, have them spell checked and grammatically corrected, and then post them later. I am simply not cut out for that sort of thing.

Another reason for the reticence is the possibility of getting into trouble inadvertently. At least a couple of bloggers I know have gotten into trouble for expressing their minds freely on the internet. Self Censorship!

It is funny really. Too much of anything is bad they say .. and I think our generation has taken political correctness to new levels. It has reached a point where anything more than sitting on the fence is taken as being opinionated.

Perhaps, we indeed are evolving into some sort of mega organism (refer to the versions of star trek where it was not in fashion to baldly go where no man has ever gone before) and each individual must think like all the others or risk being purged by the system. Something like a colony of ants ...

A pity really given the capabilities that we supposedly possess.

Not having an opinion has become a "morally superior" stance ... like being vegeterian for instance. Which reminds me, why is it that I meet more vegeterians preaching and trying to convert everyone else to their way of living as compared to non-vegeterians?

Even assuming that there are some folks who are intolerant of everyone else, isn't intolerance of such an attitude intolernace in itself? Catch 22 or plain hypocrisy?

Reminds me of something else that has nagged me quite a bit .. though I think I have thought that one through ... If being good means having a innate dislike for evil, is it not true that good originates in evil? How can something that originates or exists because of evil be good? The right thing to do perhaps is therefore not to be good or evil but just be ... indiffernce is the noblest alternative given this aspect.

There you are .. being spontaneous .. nothing like it ... even if at the end of it the result is like brownian motion of rhetoric .. there is a certain satisfaction to it.

For those that like sitting on the fence, god invented barbed wire!

Friday, March 17, 2006


Everything in life is so transient – including grief.

When we lose someone or something that we hold as precious, it seems that life couldn’t go on – that the world itself has come to an end and that life has no meaning.

However, life, oblivious of the tumults in our perception of it, goes on and on… and amazing as it may be, we eventually overcome the grief.

All the pain and suffering – everything that we go through in our lives is so insignificant when compared to the size of our universe. As Carl Segan wrote, "We are like butterflies that flutter for a day and think it as eternity". Yet, this day is all we have – and what we feel is all we have to show that anything even exists .. outside of us.

I can only wonder at our resistance to change. Everything changes. We change. And yet, the moment we are aware of something changing, we resist it.

Is there anything wrong with resisting change? I don’t know. I don’t think that is the right question to ask. This is not a moral issue of right and wrong. Without coherence, all would be in chaos, and how can you have coherence without resistance to everything that tries to nullify that coherence.

Take the physical example if the earth decided to lose it’s coherence… Just like that, one morning, eastern standard time, the pieces split and fall away into space … smaller and smaller and smaller … until you are all that there is left to show that it ever even existed … ah! And yes, the peck of dust beneath your sneakers – conclusive evidence ….

Weird imagery … grief will do that to you. Sometimes, oftentimes, we are sad about things that we do not even wish to acknowledge. Just a bitter sweet feeling somewhere between the lungs and the intestines … approximately where your solar plexus is … a death point I am told if you are well versed in martial arts.

Well, there it is – that pain that is almost there and not quite. That thought that is almost there but not quite … eventually, someday you’ll have a dream about it or, perhaps a nightmare … you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, finally acknowledging the hurt, have a glass of water, wipe your forehead maybe, and go back to bed.

For a while, you’ll wonder at what you had done, how stupid you were not to realize, be glad that you have finally realized, and finally drowse off listening to the silence within … and the sound of the ceiling fan, water dripping from a leaky faucet, a cricket, a termite in the woodwork, or perhaps the sound of someone breathing.

The morning sun will be a little sallow. As you open your eyes and look at the curtain, you’ll remember for a moment … feel a small shiver go up and down your spine, feel that the feet are a little cold perhaps, and throw off the quilt, get up, get on with life and forget …
Forget and forever … forget forever … forget for ever.

And yet, in your having thought, and in your having grieved, something comes into existence, something ethereal and not quite. Physical too. And that remains. Long after you are gone and time itself has lost it’s sense of continuity, somewhere, built into the very fabric of the universe, remains a thought and a feeling – a tribute to the moment that you took so long to understand and acknowledge … and there for eternity to pass it by.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

generally rambling

What did I learn today that I did not know yesterday?

Our boss told us once that we do most of our learning in the subconcious… which is why, we end up answering the above question with an emphatic “nothing”, even though that is not really true.

That may be true because today, I had to chair a meeting and it came so naturally that at one point I was amazed that I was doing it. It is not like I have ever been particularly bashful or talking does not come naturally to me or anything … however, leading a team and chairing a meeting require a certain frame of mind … the willingness to take responsibility, the willingness to share the work, and be ready to just oversee it.

You have to be an engineer to understand just how difficult it can sometimes be to let go of work. When you have been doing something yourself all the time, all of a sudden giving something to another person and just overseeing it is very painful. To draw an analogy, think of the sculpture who has had an apprentice work for him for some time, someone who wants to finally become a sculptor himself. Irrespective of how well liked the apprentice may be, when he picks up the first piece of marble to carve it into something that the sculptor is working on, there will always be a sense of trepidateion, a sense of loss, and a sense of benevolence.

Knowledge divided is knowledge multiplied. (A lot like micro organisms I just realized). So, I am sure I have learnt something today, though I do not really know what it might be.

I just finished Scott Adams’ “God’s Debris”. An interesting piece of work, though I’ll admit it wasn’t earth shattering. It has been a while since a book last shook my foundations. I remember some of Ayan Rand’s work being that way. The last was probably Pirsig – yes the ever famous Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I am not sure what is the reason for this. Is it because I am more grounded? Perhaps I am more skeptical or cynical … Not sure.

This isn’t really going anywhere. Just me, walking the corridors of my mind.
Ummm … about time I went for a walk in the corridors outside my mind. Hope to catch you later.

In Memoriam

As I was watching the 78th academy awards tonight, they came to the section – “In Memoriam”. As the movie clips rolled on, showing the various people associated with the industry that passed away over the last year, I was deeply moved. I could recognize very few of them … like the sansei from the karate kid series. That however was not the reason for the movement.

I think it is a marvelous thing to do … even if it is for a moment, probably millions of people around the world realize that a face that they have taken for granted perhaps from child hood, is no-more. Though we may keep seeing them over and over again, in movies old, and new to us, they are gone …

It made me remember the dear ones that I have lost over the years – my father’s father, my father’s mother, and my Mother’s father, three of my uncles, one of them very dear, one of the professors from my engineering college that I respected a lot … and that about sums up the list.

I have lost others but not by death – not by death of the person that is. Sometimes trust died, sometimes love, sometimes respect … yes there have been a small number of fatalities that way too.

So, I took some time to remember all these people … and finally, my thoughts came back to me. Funny, how consistently, like a dog playing fetch, my thoughts always boomerang and come back to me.

Will I be remembered too? What will I be remembered for? Do I want to be remembered? Is it important to be remembered? What do I want to be remembered for?

It is always easier to ask questions than to provide answers. I believe that phrasing the question correctly allows you to arrive at the answer. Currently though, I will have to admit that the reason I am banging this out on the keyboard in the middle of the night is more because of a rush of emotions than logic (if there can be such a rush) … which is why I am reluctant to explore the possibility of refining any question.

If I were to die tonight, some people would remember me for I made them laugh. A few, because I made them cry. Some wouldn’t be too sure how to feel … except perhaps a vague feeling of unease “Oh! Damn! He was about my age … I’d better be careful too”.
A lot of people around the world would be able to talk to their loved ones because of a small part of me … but hardly anyone even thinks of Graham Bell … so who the hell am I?

Feeling sleepy now, and the wave of emotion has moved on. When you aren’t swamped by emotions, contemplating your death and such is not fun business. So, I’ll end here. A single tear drop on my left cheek – a tribute to all love lost.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Some of my art

Some of my art work... I drew the face and then used the solarize effect on my A760 to take these shots :)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

the unclear nuclear situation

Numerous people had lots to say about the recent nuclear deal; but for all their words, in the end, none of them said much.
A lot like distance and displacement - for all the distance they put in, there isn't much displacement to show for it.

Is it just coincidence that nuclear and unclear are such similar words?

There are a lot of things I want to say about our roads, media and everything in general.
However, I was thinking of something else today morning.

I don't know whether the deal was good or not. I don't know whether it will be a help or a hindrance to our development as a nation. What I do know and feel and want to stress upon here is the need to really work seriously on the nuclear option and not just make gestures about it. Given the current global energy scenario, we will probably run out of oil in 20 years. Assuming that this is an alarmist view and it will last for say another 50 years, the fact remains that it will run out sooner or later. In the future, when fossil fuels are not an option, we will need to depend on something that can be made available easily to the masses. Electricity is our best bet – electricity generated by nuclear power and other unconventional sources. That is why we need to look at the nuclear option seriously.

What confuses me is the Ostrich approach that most governments seem to be taking towards the problem. Burying our collective heads in the sand will not make the energy crisis disappear. What is more remarkable is the lack of foresight that governments are showing as far as planning for the eventuality is concerned.

An important area where we are showing lack of foresight is the area of public transport. India is now spending enormous amounts of money on trying to better our road system. I do not say that this is not required. However, in a scenario where there is no gasoline/petrol for vehicles to run, what will help?

The situation in India cannot be equated to the situation in the US.
The US already has an excellent network of roads and a culture wherein the car is about as basic as a tooth brush (if not more so). So, while in the US context, hybrid cars and such might be the way to go, we need to approach the problem from a different perspective here.

What we have here in India, is an amazingly intricate system of railways that despite all the bungling and corruption, works, and works well.
Instead of spending enormous amounts of money on roads that will be obsolete in another century at the very best, we should look at how we can provide adequate means of transportation not just for the next general elections but for the next generation. We should perhaps concentrate on modernizing our railways, and converting more and more of them to run on electricity – so that they can eventually use the electricity that will be generated using unconventional energy sources.

While designing new cities or modifying our old ones, we could build in an integral transport network based on small energy efficient electric trains, stressing less on roads. Imagine all the advantages this would have – we would be future proof, the air would be cleaner, our cities would be quieter, the air would be more breathable ….

Why do we need for the west to think of a system before we are ready to embrace it? Even in areas where we have “indigenous” development taking place, it is more often at the implementation level rather than the concept level. This isn’t about brain drain (just reminding myself not to get off the topic) but a lack of political will and foresight. For some reason, we as individuals and as a country have become so greedy, that we cannot think beyond ourselves and our immediate future. The future generations though they may be our own bloodlines mean nothing to us. We need to rise above this …

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Help Save The Dodo!!!

It struck me today that perhaps I should take up this worthy cause - fighting to save the dodos from extinction. This is the most worthy and suitable cause for me.

What makes it so perfect is the timeline for this task. I seem to have been born with this innate knack of recognizing just when it is too late to complete a particular project, and begin working on it only from that point.

Over the years, it has happened again and again and again. Leaving aside the small day to day blunders, the first remarkable incident of this nature was when we had to submit our computer science project for the 10th standard.

We were given 2 years to work on it. Not that anyone ever really worked for 2 years, but then groups would get formed that early, and the sincere ones would work atleast for a year.

Me and my friend, well, we had nothing to show even 6 months before the deadline ... but then there is always hope. We had nothing to show two months further down the line... which is when we heard that those who participated in the school concert (generally a musical drama of some merit) would get an extra week.

My friend and I immediately decided that this was the thing to do - join the school concert!

We worked dilligently towards it. The concert that year was a musical adaptation of Ali Baba and the Forty thieves. Everyone on the cast was required to be able to sing and so, we were required to give an audition before the school piano teacher.

My concept of the scales (up to 2nd year of engineering) was that the Do Re Me .. was like the vowels ... the ending sound was all that mattered. I was clueless about pitch. Add to that the fact that the piano teacher was drop-dead gorgeous.

My first audition was a nightmare. After having been tutored for about a week (by when my voice was too hoarse anyway) I went during the lunch time for my audition.

The lady went to the piano .. turned her eyes on me (oh my gawd!!!) ... hit some keys and said.. sing along "la la la"!!!!! Imagine my surprise! How can you simulate "Do Re Me" with "la la la" ... shouldn't it be something like "Lo Le Le" at least????

I just choked. The piano teacher saw how flustered I was and probably assumed that I was just nervous as a tribute to her beauty.... to cut a long story short, I made it three auditions later, with sheer tenacity. Needless to say, I spent most of the time in the choir doing lip-sync (appropriate because I was a bass and well isnt a bass supposed to go gulp-gulp-gulp). Everytime I did try to sing a line or two, I would generally throw the folks around me off tune .. and I survived several rounds of culling when the choir master would try to isolate the point cause of the problem...

All this mind you ... to get that additional one week to complete our computer project.

Well, the school concert came and went ... I will only mention in passing that on the fateful day, I managed to rip my silk pyjama costume and for once, no one had to whisper from the sidelines not to turn my back towards the audience.

Now that the concert was over, it was time for project submissions. We ofcourse were secure in the knowledge that we had an additional week in which to complete the project that we had not started.

It came as a surprise therefore when the principal decided on Wednesday evening that it would be unfair to give the boys from the concert an additional week to embellish there projects since everyone had been working on them for 2 years anyway. We opposed the motion ... and after some discussion, it was decided by Thursday evening that the projects were expected by the next morning.

Luckily, my friend had a home computer. That was my first night-out for writing code (involuntarily) ... and we cooked up something by the next morning. I wont bore you with the specifics, needless to say that it passed muster, and well wasn't bad at all. Our teacher slightly differed in that opinion ... all the more apparently because it was produced in a night "... imagine if you had spent 2 years" he thundered!

To come back to the first point ... this has been the story with everything all my life... packing while going to the hostel, packing while coming back home from the hostel, preparing for exams, packing for my onsite assignments, my project deadlines... and at the end of it, despite everything, whenever the odds have been really stacked up, I have made it.

Someday I will perhaps blog on the somber aspects of this ... how we should sometimes have a need to create challenges for ourselves in life, how one of the greatest challenges is to create the right challenge ... and all that balderdash ...

but for now I think I will just help save the Dodo!!!!