Monday, July 28, 2008
You think I cannot blame the monsoon for the dearth of posts? You have no idea just how interconnected everything in the world is. It is the monsoons I tell you. The mind wanders ...
Now, my city has been bombed too. About 7 blasts ... the 8th one was defused before it could explode. Not too bad given the condition of Ahmedabad. The news channels almost forgot my city as soon as it was over. The death toll wasn't high enough to keep up their TRP ratings I suppose. "Only" 2 people died. None of the channels provided any of the details of the people that died. Except for the fact that one was a woman.
Not sure what is so "only" about the 2 that didn't get home last Friday. They never will again.
As the world has shrunk, there seems to be a personal connection to almost every tragedy. When a bomb goes off anywhere or a flight crashes, there is always the possibility of losing a dear one ...
Life goes on though.
Friday, June 13, 2008
And then, there was the 3G iPhone ... which hasn't quite been released yet ... but bloke that heads the operation confirmed all rumors. Come july, the release will happen!
Just connecting dots here ... it is only happenstance that our spiral galaxy lost two arms recently. Apparently, our galaxy doesn't quite look the way we thought it does. New data confirms this. I am sure we'll get quite a few different pictures as time elapses, and more and more data pours in.
Should we happen to live long enough, perhaps some day, we can actually have a photograph from outside the galaxy showing what it really looks like ... for us to ogle at and wear as a pendant perhaps ... how many of the interim pictures that shall send to the shredder remains to be seen.
Last but not the least, there's pluto ... the planet that was ... guess what it is now?
It has reincarnated as a "plutoid" and has brought with it a whole army of such critters ... plutoids all! And you thought pluto was gone ...
And then there is Phoenix ... on Mars ... quietly jiggling its pots and pans ... sifting through the dirt ... ploughing it up ... it just happens to be called Phoenix I guess ... or has it been named as such because the idea of life on Mars just refuses to die down? Reincarnated from the ashes ... the hope of finding life ... possibly already found by viking and disregarded then ...
Yeah ... a lot has been happening awright!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Not because I am smoking too much ...
And not because I left the food on the stove and sat gaping at the TV.
Something a lot more mundane really ... on this day, some 3 decades ago, on a cold, rainy morning, I came into this world.
..... or so I am told!
Personally, I have no recollection of this most important day in my life. So, there is no way I can confirm that any of this is true. For all I know, I may have been born on a different planet and dunked on this planet in a spiky glass bowl like superman. This is unlikely though ... since somewhere in my hoary past, I remember realizing that no matter what the color and orientation of my underwear might be, it has no impact on how I relate to gravity!
But then again, the fact that I can actually think this up and write it down, does imply the possibility that I may have been involved in a brain jarring impact as a child - the kind that you'd get when the spiky glass bowl thudded to the earth ...
Skeptical as I may be about my origins, this skepticism can hardly be reason enough to stop me from having a good time ... so, I guess I'll call it a day and go light a little bonfire over the cake and make myself a roast something or the other ... hopefully my martian cousins shall celebrate too ... and not mind too much the fact that the Phoenix is baking and raking up their most arable land in the name of science!
Hang on a while and the next post shall be published as soon as sanity prevails ... hic!
You think the burning candles on a b'day cake might lead to pollution? Green house gasses and stuff ...
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I am not sure whether it has all sunk in as yet. We'll talk about that soon enough though.
Today, however, there are more important things at hand - such as World Environment Day.
Maybe I am just reading too much into that but the acronym is "WED" I just noticed!
I am not sure how to react to this WED. The feelings are sort of mixed.
On the one hand, it is a good thing that we have a special day when we actually remember the impact that we are having on the environment and how we can do something about it.
On the other hand, it is just our arrogance again. One can think of it as a continuation of the thought process that classifies "man-made" as being significantly different from "natural". If a beaver dam is natural, so is Hoover for all I care.
But then, as we all know, man is a "thinking" animal. And it is good that we are putting some thought into what we are doing. While a beaver cannot change to stop building dams (not true strictly speaking - we all know about evolution, adaptability and all that HS), a human can think of alternatives.
For all our thinking, we did not think enough and we did not think far enough into the future. The only reason that most people are actually taking notice today is not because any of that has changed but because they can finally see the effects first hand ... and seeing is believing.
Typhoons, baboons and blue blistering barnacles ...
Sorry, typhoons, cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis ... and of late, the rising fuel prices that have fuelled inflation blah ... blah ... when it kills your folks ... and more importantly perhaps, hits your pocket, people tend to notice. So, welcome to world environment day.
So what do we do today? If you spend some time googling, most of it seem to be knee jerk reactions.
Here folks ... calculate your carbon footprint ... we have a calculator (praying that it increases the hit count to my site) ... and oh! you eat meat? Don't you know that increases your carbon footprint? You have to stop eating meat so that the world stays the way it is. Switch off the AC and use a fan. Stop the car and take a walk.
What next? Eat salads and save on cooking gas? Some backsides need to have some footprints on them ... that's what!!!
The problem as I see it is that we are trying to undo the damage that we have already done. Somehow, everyone is in ostrich mode.
Hello!!! Even if everyone were to go vegetarian and eat only salads at that and walk to office and stuff, the fact is that change is inevitable. I don't see too many people trying to understand exactly what is changing and planning to live comfortably with the change.
It is just not reasonable to think of a world where no one uses a car or a plane. People need to travel. It is not reasonable to think of a world where people change their eating habits. While it makes sense to do things better, it is also necessary to understand that we are doing too little too late ... as far as the change in the environment is considered. And frankly, do we really believe that nothing on earth would ever change if we were not to change it?
So, while it is a good thing to spend your time today, thinking of how you can improve your energy efficiency and reduce your wastes ... and even reduce your carbon footprint ... it is important to look ahead. Instead of blaming folks from the past hundred years for the change or the developed countries or whatever, it is important to anticipate the changes to the environment. It is important to accept that this change is now here and we are in the middle of it ... and figure out how we can still live well with the change.
How can we grow enough crops to feed the nations if the weather changes?
How can we build better houses that can withstand earthquakes?
Can we design our cities to withstand tsunamis?
How can we design our transport system to be more efficient?
How can we make clean energy?
And what can I do?
How can I help?
And then again, is there much point in any of it any way?
Why not enjoy what we have while we have it?
Perhaps it is time to take out that car and go on a long drive ...
while the gas lasts and burgers still have meat ;)
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
First Asimov, then Carl Sagan and today Clarke.
I am not sure whether everyone will agree to naming them in one breath in one sentence.
For me however, this was the trinity that connected me to the universe and to the future.
They helped me think of life beyond what we see everyday and to imagine things beyond what we would probably imagine.
Asimov, Sagan and now Clarke ... he was the last of the trinity - a tenuous link to a world that has slowly all but disappeared into oblivion for me as I have grown older - and today, this was broken too.
I have no words to express how I feel. I am not sure why it feels so personal - enough to have caused me to log in and start writing this post despite a hectic schedule that leaves me with hardly any time to breathe.
I hope that in death, they are able to transcend the barriers of time and space that constrained them in life. To travel the universe at a whim. To see, to learn, to know and to explore. To be as unfettered physically in their new existence as their minds were in their old. To know the secrets of the universe. To be a part of that secret.
With sunset, slowly, the dream and the hope that I shall do anything that matches the contributions of these childhood idols is fading - replaced by the mundane thoughts of everyday existence.
Perhaps my only contribution shall be to add a line to the epitaph of every astronaut ...
- may his soul rest in space.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
There isn't much to write otherwise. I don't know whether it is the weather or something else. My throat is perpetually parched, my lips forever chapped ... I am reminded every time I smile ... which is not very often.Falling asleep is difficult and getting up in the morning is equally terrible ... I feel like Calvin - on Tokyo time.
And then the rest of the day unfolds ... between appetizing meals and tea breaks, I fight to meet or beat deadlines at work and at home. No time to think ... too numb to feel. Fighting to stay awake ... fighting to fall asleep ...
Life is a haze ... like a dream ... neither bad nor good. Just a dream. Something that you eventually wake up from. I wish I would wake up now.
Talking of dreams, I remember what I dreamt this morning. I generally don't remember dreams which is why this is even worth mentioning.
I was in a house. On a hill side. Like the houses that I was used to as a child. Wooden floors. A false ceiling made of woven jute, white washed and supported internally by wooden frames. Sloping tin roofs that end in gutters that channel the rain water down into tin drums for later use.
I was standing by a small window. Small glass panes held together by a wooden framework. All the woodwork - painted white - including the sill. White curtains. Printed. Small pink floral patterns. Drawn back so I could look outside. I could feel the cool of the cotton curtain against my cheeks as I looked out.
Looking out, across the overgrown garden, the hill fell off steeply and I could see water far below. Looked like a sea ... but too placid to be one ... a lake perhaps. The mist was rising and I could see some buildings in the distance drifting in and out of the haze.
New York? I thought. Till I spied what looked like Sears tower in the distance. Ah! Chicago then?
I turned my gaze to look left and saw the hill side rise away above me. It was dotted with thousands of quaint little houses. All overlooking the same scenery. I paused to soak in the beauty ... confused. I couldn't imagine where I could possibly be. A hill next to lake michigan with quaint houses on it? Made of wood ... on stilts ... with tin roofs .. painted red, green, blue ... huh?
Somebody sitting behind me in an old wooden easy chair reminded me that I was working too hard. The wood of the chair was dark. The back and the bottom was made of woven cane - brown with age. He was also trying to explain some other truths of life that I don't quite remember. I was not paying much attention to him. I was still trying to figure out where I was.
I tried too hard. It woke me up. Back into that sordid reality of bleary eyes ... heat ... chapped lips ... that hurt when I smile ...
Friday, February 29, 2008
Well, one may argue that every day is special. On the other hand, one may just as well argue that every day is just the same. The only thing that makes any day different from any other is how we perceive it. The speciality is therefore not in the day at all...
Now, if you will please put your balderdash aside and stop arguing, perhaps I can go ahead and explain why I think that today ought to be special.
Today is special because it is the 29th of February. A day created in order to compensate for the flaw in our measurement of time. Today is a day that comes once in 4 years. New Years and Birthdays repeat with such tenacious regularity that they get incredibly boring over time. Also, a year is too short a time frame to really ruminate over. A decade is a better option. But generally, when you try to ruminate over times that far back, you remember emotions more clearly. It isn't so much about the colour of the shirt you were wearing as it is about the feeling that you were feeling.
4 years is just about right in this respect. It helps you look at the bigger picture. At the same time, you still remember enough to analyze things better.You can see the bigger picture but still retain enough information to zoom in if you are so inclined.Yes. That is definitely a more graceful and better way of putting it.
From this point of view, 29th of February is a very special day.what were you doing on 31st March 10 years ago? Probably you don't remember. What will you be doing on 7th December 10 years from now? You probably cannot predict with much accuracy. Will you remember what you thought today on 7th December 10 years later? Doubtful again.
What were you doing on 29th February 4 years ago? Relatively less hazy. You might not remember exactly how that day unfolded. You will probably remember what you were working on though. What will you be doing on the next 29th February? Chances are, you will predict with slightly greater accuracy. And will you remember on the next 29th February, what you thought for yourself today? Much likelier don't you think?
:) I can see some of you shaking your heads and disagreeing with each of the statements above. That doesn't change my resolution though ... I intend to spend every 29th Feb ruminating ... sober... unlike New Year eve.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
What stops us from growing wings?
Why must a man look ludicrous, arms flapping by his sides, if he should ever desire to fly? Why indeed, when man can now fly faster, higher and further than anything that was Created explicitly with the purpose to do so?
Is it that in our longing to fly, we have out done the Creator himself?
Is it possible?
What would that imply?
Unlike Icarus, we do not fall to the ground with the wax melting of our wings - a mess of wax and bones, of flesh and feathers ... and blood ... mixed with the sand and gravel...
So is it the desire to fly ... is this what makes us better at flying then those that are naturally endowed with the capability?
If this is true of flying, should it not also hold true for all else?
That success is not determined so much by the talents that we naturally possess, as it is by the desire to succeed in a particular endeavor!
It may take more than one life time though ...
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Rather loosely speaking really ... it is more like noon ... but then I have just woken up ... and my life is still in second gear. So, for all practical purposes, this is morning.
Now that I have justified the title of the post ... I'd better get down to the business of writing. My laptop has an hour and sixteen minutes of battery left ... so that is the maximum amount of time that I can actually spend on this... Though, really, that is the least of the constraints. Like every other weekend, I have a million things left to do...
So here I am, seated on the sofa, in front of the TV (which is on but muted). Outside, it is a glorious day. The school at the end of the road just got over for the day and the street outside is filled with kids ... small bunches ... big groups ... a kaleidoscope of colors and a cacophony of shrill voices... as they walk or run around kicking up the dust.
I doubt if they can see me seated here in my pajamas ... feeling a lot like Yossarian on that tree during the funeral ... unkempt hair ... unshaved ... eyes still bleary from not having slept right ... cynical. It is far too bright outside for them to be able to see inside the house ... though none of the curtains are drawn. So, I can sit here, invisible, paying attention only to my thoughts ... and the sound of the gently rotating fan - too slow for comfort. Good for them. Let them be as they are as long as they can.
I think till this morning, I never did really know what childhood innocence means. And now, I don't know when I lost it. Prehaps the most ridiculous part is that I don't think I can really define it even now... in so many words.
No it actually gets better - I am not so sure whether it is more regrettable that we eventually lose our childhood innocence or that we are born with it in the first place.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Thought I'd woken up early - as is often the case - and would have gone back to sleep had I not checked the time. The clock showed 9:30 and so, out of curiosity I decided to get out of bed and investigate ...
Turned out to be a cloudy day ... which would have been bearable ... but it started drizzling even as I watered the plants. Had breakfast and then watched the rain drops fall on the windshield of my car ... once every few minutes, enough drops collect to form a small droplet that slides down ... forming a small rivulet that takes along with it all the little drops that lie in its path ...and fall to the ground ... creating small puddles along the edge of the car.
Still brooding, surfed the channels till I figured out where VH1 had shifted over the past week ... and finally tuned in to VH1 classics ... and now, as I write this post, I can hear Rod Stewart's plaintive wails for a downtown girl ... makes me think of the subway in NY ... even the Metra in Chicago perhaps ...
There's so much to do. But as I sit here at my laptop, I don't think I have it in me today to do anything ... not even to scramble up a lunch or to drive down to grab something ...
And now meatloaf is playing ... the background score to my life currently is the grim ... "objects in the rear view mirror" ... but right now I have no inclination to look thither either.
I feel like a paratrooper as he stands at the door of the plane about to jump off ... flak all around ... but the plane somehow feels safer for a while as compared to the ground below ... even as he sees the next plane slide into a nose dive ... flames spewing ... and hears the engines as they scream ... trying to claw at the air ... to no avail ... "boommm" ... the light flashes green and it is time to jump ...
I am stuck in this moment ... and can't get out of it ...
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I wonder whether parents stifle the imagination of their kids these days by pampering them with too many toys ... or whether having the toys just helps them imagine bigger and better things - I doubt if this is the case though.
I had toys as a kid but never too many. My brother and I preferred to make our toys. We'd design vehicles using discarded medicine boxes with bottle caps for wheels and aluminium wires for axles. We'd spend a lot of time in the undergrowth on the border of the forest, playing vague games and generally hacking through with machetes fashioned out of bamboo. These were made by the local people that worked for my dad and were pretty effective and sharp.
At other times, we'd play in the garden. I remember digging a small circle in order to create an island. We would then fill the "moat" with water and spend the rest of the day collecting ants of different types and putting them there to see whether they would fight!
Chasing dragonflies and butterflies was another option ... and you could always eat sweet peas while at eat .. picking the pods straight off the vines.
When it was too hot or cold to be outside, we'd find things to do inside the house ... we'd make boats out of paper ... and sometimes more complicated constructs that we'd call "steamers". We'd then collect water in a sink and float them around.
At times, things got a tad more dangerous - though we didn't realize it then. Dad was posted in a border area that had seen some fighting during the war with China. So, it was quite easy to find spent ammunition in the garden as we pottered about. Brother and I were extremely interested in the darker stuff that we could see within the casing. We assumed it was not gunpowder since the bullet had already been shot ... so we collected a bunch of them, put them into a tin pencil box and shoved it into the fireplace (yup we had a fireplace in the kitchen in those days) early in the morning ... while parents were still asleep.
So there we were, crouched next to the fire place ... luckily for us, nothing exploded. We retrieved the box from the fire after a while and realized that the dark stuff had melted out and solidified again in weird designs ... it was lead I suppose.
That was when dad barged into the kitchen ... and the rest as they say is history :)
I feel sorry for the kids I see around me these days. Cramped within their houses, boxed in tiny vans to school, confined into classrooms with a bunch of disgruntled teachers to teach them ... boxed into a van back home ... and boxed into the home again ... with a maid perhaps instead of a parent or grandparent to take care of them ...
Guess it is no wonder that they behave the way they do ... our generation is so busy earning money that they probably wont realize till much later what a dysfunctional bunch of people they are helping create.
I hope they will realize what went wrong with them as kids and they shall take pains to give their children a better childhood ... and life shall have come back full circle.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Was wondering the other day - as far as most religions are concerned, God is defined as the bloke that created us. So now, if He was some alien geek in whatever constitutes a lab coat on their planet, would our religions then settle for calling him God?
I personally wouldn't. Nothing short of the creator of the universe itself would do for me I realized.
As a Hindu, I was introduced to a plethora of Gods early in life. I once asked mom ... how is it that our gods seem to have all the human failings? They get angry, they can be flattered, they get seduced ... you name it ... they have it ... all the failings. I can't quite remember what she answered then ... but at some later point I remember dwelling on the thought that any God with emotions would be a lesser God.
The "One" I reasoned should be unbiased. Good and Evil are what we see when we look at the small picture. From up there, He should be able to see the whole ... and the balance therein. For example, if you break up an atom you see electrons and protons and neutrons ... so electrons are negative (evil) ... protons are positive (good) and neutrons are neutral (wise ones) ... let us assume.
The atom as a whole is balanced and it would come apart or change into something fundamentally different if we were to take out any of the components. So, while I may perceive all these differences while I am inside the atom, once I come out of it, I see it as a stable whole. The universe should be similar for Mr. God is what I think.
Another way of looking at it is that the true God (if he is a unity and not a duality or a trinity etc.) would need to be neither good nor evil. So he cannot be pro-good. Everything in the universe needs to be in some sort of cosmic balance. If God is good, then who is bad? If God decides to be good, then by being good, he creates evil. If God is an Unity (something I have begun to doubt as I write this post) then he can neither be good nor evil. Any God that is good is therefore a lesser God again.
Which brings us to the point ... would religion be so enticing without the carrot of salvation and the stick of damnation? Would we really pray and stuff if we realized that God does not give a damn what we do. It does not matter to him any way. And, if someone ever appears and says it matters, this must be a lesser God. Powerful perhaps ... but not Him.
We are really free to do whatever we want to do. Any laws that the God does not want us to break, we can't. Just because you don't believe in gravity, you can't levitate. It takes a little more than that as you may have noticed. If there is something that you can do, it must be because He doesn't care whether you choose to do it or not.
And morality? Some time ago, it was quite alright and highly noble to burn women at the stake or dunk them into a river ... just label them as witches and this was all in a perfectly good day of work. If you want a more famous example there is always Joan of Arc ... but there a thousands of others that are not even named in history.
Today we look at it differently though. For all you know in another couple of centuries, it may be ok to do this to men - because they did it to women earlier ... burn them as warlocks perhaps ... if you don't believe this can happen you can read up on the reservation policy in India.
So ... there is no such thing as a moral absolute. The only way you can take a moral stance over the ages ... and be agnostic to the changing values is if you evaluate an action based on why it was done. The reason that guided the action ... was that good or was that bad? Even this does get a little dicey since good and bad changes with time. Today, if I may consider that anything done for the good of the society is good. A thousand years later, that may be considered to be sacrilege when people automate the basics and live more individualistic life styles requiring little or no interaction.
Then, the only way to evaluate an action is to ask "Why was this done? What were they trying to accomplish by doing this?" and then, once that question is answered, ask "was this purpose considered to be good or evil at the time when the deed was done?". Simple enough. That is what the Gita tells us.
Think about it... I wouldn't be surprised if you have a different answer. Even what we generally think about is based on the vocabulary we have. Very few people go through the process of creating new words to describe new concepts that we have no words for in the current language. Even our thoughts are therefore bound by the limitations of the language that we think in -unless we consciously break away from it....
Thursday, January 24, 2008
It would, on the other hand, be extremely unsettling if we were to believe that the earth would be destroyed in our life time. Over the last couple of days, I have discovered that a numerous number of people are actually living everyday of their lives under this terrible shadow - the "knowledge" that the earth shall be destroyed in their life times. What a terrible burden to carry. I can only admire them for the determination with which they carry on with their mundane existence despite the knowledge of what is to come.
I read through some of the literature that is available on the web, with an open mind ... or so I believe. A lot of the doomsday stuff is really crappy and I doubt I can open my mind enough to accept it ... without having my brain fall splat on the ground.
However, I was somewhat impressed by Sitchin and what he has to say about Nibiru. Though a lot of it sounds rather far fetched, the basic premise that there is another massive body in or near the solar system which we have not found so far sounds plausible.
There are some anomalies that we don't really have good enough explanations for ... like what is effecting the orbits of some of the outer planets ... and I guess scientists should keep an open mind too.
If most solar systems have planets in weird orbits, and we have found that Sedna in our own solar system has such an orbit, how can we confidently state that there is no other body that we have missed ...
We simply don't know enough yet ... and so, we cannot definitely say that Nibiru does not exist.
But ... what if it does?
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
It is colder these days - especially towards the morning.
The guy that cleans the car hasn't come back to work for over a week now - talk about an extended New Year celebration - and the dew running off the car in the mornings leaves rather interesting patterns in the dust that has gathered.
What are the chances that he'll make an appearance the day after I clean the car myself? I am assuming rather high - which is why, in the meanwhile, I am rather content to be seen driving around in a car with sand colored leopard like spots on the roof and the bonnet and sand colored zebra like stripes on the sides.
The color is the car is about the same as Superman's tights ... so you can visualize just how amazing it looks :)
Been thinking some ... maybe I don't know about it ... but we don't have a festival/holiday when we look back or introspect. All the celebrations in popular culture ... the ones that have cut across religious boundaries for the most part such as New Year and birthday parties have people wishing us for our future. Shouldn't we have a day in the year when we look back at the year that has gone by and celebrate the things that we have done well, and learn from the things that we haven't been that good at?
I was just thinking whether it would make me a queer old timer if, when I have kids of my own, as a family we celebrate the New Year on 2 days. On the 30th perhaps, we can have a quiet family day when we spend time together and everyone is given time to actually look at the year that has passed by and take what they want from it ... and leave whatever they don't. Then New Year eve can be celebrated the way they want to celebrate ... at home ... or with friends ... sober ... or high... waking up to a fresh new morning ... or hungover staring around bleary eyed and trying hard to recollect what the name of the person lying next to them is ...
Yeah ... maybe I'll try that ... though I can already imagine myself sitting in a corner of my room on a wooden rocking chair ... in a huff ... with a cloud of smoke hovering over my head ... trying hard to retrospect ... but only managing to wonder why no one is willing to follow the head of the family ... while she potters about the house with a knowing smile and rakes up dish that she thinks will get me back on track ...
Surprising as it may seem, despite having thought quite a bit about this, and despite having spent the time to actually type it out in this post, I am yet to go over my last year ...
This weekend perhaps ... or next New Year maybe ... who knows?