Letters to a friend...


A Curious Mind W(o/a)nders...- http://ayanwonders.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 19, 2005

A Song...and beware Bombay could be any place!

Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan

Movie: C.I.D (1956)
Music: O.P Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh
Singers: Mohd. Rafi & Geetha Dutt

Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan
Ha haa, ha ho ho, ho hi haa ha haa
Hm hm hm hm, hm hm hm , hm hm hm hm hm

Aye dil hai..

(Kahin building kahin traame, kahin motor kahin mill
Milta hai yahan sab kuchh ik milta nahin dil) -2
Insaan ka nahin kahin naam-o-nishaan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Aye dil hai..

(Kahin satta, kahin patta kahin chori kahin res
Kahin daaka, kahin phaaka kahin thokar kahin thes) -2
Bekaaro ke hain kai kaam yahan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Aye dil hai..

(Beghar ko aawara yahan kehte has has
Khud kaate gale sabke kahe isko business) -2
Ik cheez ke hain kai naam yahan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Aye dil hai..

Geeta Dutt:
(Bura duniya woh hai kehta aisa bhola tu na ban
Jo hai karta woh hai bharta hai yahan ka yeh chalan) -2
Tadbeer nahin chalne ki yahan
Yeh hai Bombay, yeh hai Bombay, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Geeta Dutt:
Aye dil hai aasaa jeena yahan
Suno mister, suno bandhu, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan
Zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan

Friday, August 12, 2005


Have received quite a few mails from people after the death of this blog. A good old college friend with whom I'd lost touch for a long time sent this mail...won't name him, ya it's a "him"...sorry to dash your hopes ((Room No.54...now guess ;-)) but here it is (he's probably been partial in this mail toward me...and that's not the reason why it's being posted :-D).

I read most of your postings on the blog site, so felt that maybe I should write to you.
I should compliment you on being so observant :). You have this intellectual restlessness that was never obvious to others. Atleast to me or most of our common friends in the BMS.

We did thinkthat you were different and were in your own world, but had no idea how much activity was going on in there. Hey, by the way I did notice many times that you were lost or would leave, when we would have conversations about the 'babes' etc. :). However, I never really tried to reason, thinking that you just don't like to make small talk, which is actually kind of true ? or not ? I've a feeling that you are different from the rest (I mean many of us, which is actually good) because you don't have a fast-food approach to life as 'we'. 'We' refers to the mortals who are not of the kind 'Ayan' :p, or in other words, people who indulge in sub-optimal thinking, don't really know that what 'really' matters is knowledge, are too lazy to challenge themselves or just don'tallow themselves the kind of mental 'freedom' that isthe source of all this creativity...just kidding, butI guess you already know my style ofhumour..offensive...coming back to the 'fast-food'approach to life. What I mean is that 'we' believe inquick fix answers to all the questions in life andnever actually perform an autopsy :). For most of us,a McAnswer would be great because McReasoning spares us from flexing our brain muscles (which is a scary prospect as it reveals to us our 'ignorance').

Another way you are different from us is that you are observant and attentive enough to ask questions which would not cross the minds of many people. And, yet another way you are different from us is that you are Ayan, our very own studious yet fun loving, i-dont-care yet reasoning about everything, modest yet snobbish :-) (guess why ?), relaxed yet restless, independent yet a prisoner to the quest for knowledge, unromantic yet filled with all the poetry in the worldand organized yet 'entangled', AYAN...a living paradox who has an honest desire and a fierce passion to resolve all the conflicts, be it conflicts between the countries or conflicts that every human has with himself.


P.S. : I'm sad that you are going to stop blogging. I always thought that I was the 'friend' and all those letters were for me.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Ok, this blog has 98 posts (including this one) and deserves an epitaph.

Well, last night was another almost sleepless night trying to figure things out which, though clear in parts, wasn't somehow clear as a whole.
And then in the early morning something struck - it was something I came across - and then just couldn't help laughing, a long bout of hearty laughter and everything had fallen into place.

Epitaph to "Letters to a friend"

In retrospective, maybe a trigger wasn't even necessary for me to come to this decision to stop writing this blog, or put in another way, maybe I was looking for a trigger.
For a long time had been troubled by the fact that while writing this blog had caused a delving into many thoughts which I might otherwise have avoided and a thorough shake-up of many assumptions of my existence which I had taken for-granted,
there was no change in the conditions of my real-life existence.
The mismatch was getting starker and starker by the day and despite some feeble attempts, was unable to change either, the condition of my existence in the real-world or the fascination for that feeling of complete joy and liberation when publishing those posts on the blog. Given my nature things had to come to a head.

Who was that friend in 'Letters to a friend'?
There were some comments, many mails, and some feed-back in person, mostly from friends I knew well and some from people I had never met. Most assumed that they were the friend I was referring to, or that they were atleast representatives of the general class of friends I was writing to.
But throughout, that friend to who I was trying to reach out was me, myself. I could be a 'he' in one poem or a 'she' in another or a 'he' and 'she' together in some other, or anything else which came to my mind. There could be narrations of incidents or dialectical insights, yet all the time it was my view, irrespective of whether it was right or not. And while sometimes they were deeply held beliefs, at other times they could be an impulsive interpretation of a situation which touched me.

I rarely replied to comments, it was no use, there was no point of reference. One could hardly understand the full meaning of what I was trying to convey without knowing me completely as a person and even then it wouldn't be possible. And on a few occassions when I did, there were obvious difficulties.

Another confusion was the reason why there were no links to other blogs on this blog though I read quite a few blogs regularly. Well again, this blog was about me, it began and ended with me, that was all. There was no other reason, no disrespect intended.

And how do I confront when something turns out to be very unlike what I expect it to be? Again, there is no second or third party involved, irrespective of the situation. It's a search for gaps in me, a deep introspection to understand clearly. The only way I know of changing the world is by changing myself. And this periodic re-look into all my assumptions is necessary, given my independent nature.

When I had decided to close my previous blog "in search of the truth", I had been looking for a different blog hosting service to start my "letters to a friend". None were upto the mark so had to settle down with blogger again.
Will be taking a hiatus from blog-writing now.
If I decide to write again, it could be something completely different or maybe just the same but there will be another attempt to move to a different blog hosting service. Will post the link if and whenever that happens.

"Letters to a friend" has served its purpose well.
Goodbye to a friend I had through 98 posts.

Friday, July 29, 2005


No reasons, no explanations, no justifications, no trying to recover the situation; have nothing to offer.
Learn to live with your mistakes, Ayan.

This blog stops.

tata and take care.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Maximum working hour Rights for students :-)

Seriously I wish there was some such thing (or is it there and I don't know?)
With classes starting at 8:30 in the morning most of the days during these post-mid sessions, and sometimes ending close to 8:30 in the night...I think I'll be spending more hours per week in the classroom than I would be spending in office per week when I start to work. And not all classes are interesting.

They must introduce a maximum work hour for students bill in Parliament soon...seriously :-D.

Sub-optimal thinking

Hmm, have been thinking about thinking since sometime (the after-effect of a disastrous sleepless night followed by a dusastrous class maybe :-)) and as ususal I'm currently totally in tangles (that's the first step, I generally manage to untangle the tangles in due course, but sometimes my heart goes out for people who're involved with me during my tangled phase, how much they have to suffer, especially when I decide to share and argue my tangles out with them :-D)

When you're thinking (any topic, any field), how can you limit yourself to a boundary that's artificial and be happy with the solution. I mean you have to get to the extreme first... no constraints, no boundaries, no conditions...call it the ideal solution, the philosophical solution, the reasoning extreme...whatever you're comfortable with. Then impose the limits and constraints of your frame of reference, and you might get a solution which will satisfy you.

But most of us have imposed the conditions and constraints a-priori (A can't stand maths, so he'll explore only upto the non-mathematical realms; B can't be dishonest, so he'll explore only in the honest range; C can't stand philosophy, so he'll explore only in the non-philosophical range...come on it's reasoning, just reasoning...all these terms are human inventions, and how I wish they hadn't been invented...all these cups to hold the same wine and we're lost in the cups) So we're working happy with hopelessly sub-optimal solutions. I'm not saying you have to be dishonest or find philosophy in everything or so on.
What I'm saying is I'll reject Consciously, and conscious rejection can't happen till I know or explore that which I'm going to reject.

But sub-optimality works...you see it, don't you?
That most of us lead our lives on external judgements (did those judges give me the first prize, did my professor give me the highest marks, did my boss think my work as good...). So it's sub-optimality that is rewarded in the normal course of things 99% of the times (ok it's an arbit % value, I don't know the real figure :-)).

One way to break this cycle of sub-optimality is to create a solution so perfect, so beautiful, that the members in the sub-optimal system realise the perfection of it and decide by themselves to change. Einstein's relativity was such an acme, so was Tagore's prose and poetry in Bengali literature, and so was Satyajit Ray's cinematic paradigm for Indian cinema.

But most of us - with our reward system surrendered to external entities - will hopelessly look for the next messaiah to uplift us throughout our life (and till that happens maybe we wouldn't even know that we can be uplifted...lost as we are in this cycle of sub-optimality) .

I'm going to sleep as you work out the tangles :-D

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mathematical HR models, where are you!

Well what am I doing at this odd hour? No I'm not partying or lounging around (exams got over today so that's what you are 'supposed' to do, aren't you :-)).
I'm looking for mathematical/analytical reward models in organisations...have been at it for 3 hrs now...can't find any like the one I had imagined would be available...Harvard Maps is some hope but not too much on it anywhere...c'mon there's got to be something somewhere...everything can't be in those brains of the people deciding it...then what are all those procedure documentations for?

Hmm...looks like there is a real danger of the onerous task of modelling a reward system for the first time, falling on these frail shoulders...hahaha.

Monday, July 25, 2005

FUN at the fringe

Move I want to the edge of edge,
To hear the beat of unknown drums,
The dross of dolt bars way of mine,
Confines to routine, uninspiring humdrums.

Crescendo of fecundity felt at fringes only,
Thousand lives of banal accomplishments, not worth one,
That thrill of unknown, that edge of living,
That flash of brilliance...when living...living just for FUN.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Gimme a challenge! Save me!!

Seriously, give me a 'real' challenge...force me to stretch myself...demand something impossible from me...inspire me to test my intellectual limits...compel me to dam this creative decay...please give me something interesting to do.

I am bored, desperately bored of this routine rut.

I'll tell you how it is in this place...it's like there are two fixed poles and your job is to run from one pole to the other and back throughout the day. Everything is defined; the pace to be followed, the length of your step, the period of your break, the swing of your hands, the stretch of your legs...everything, just everything. You're not permitted to opt out of the race. And your reward depends on how well you can brainlessly excel at following those norms.
No brain required at all, yet at the end of the day you are tired having done just nothing.

That's the kind of toil here, that's the kind of banality I'm suffering here day after day.

Wish Blogger had that mood option available in Livejournal (but the options in Livejournal wouldn't be enough :-)).
Current Mood: If boredom could kill you, I am dying!
Save me!!

Musical musings

Have been listening to Bismillah's rendition of raag Bhairav on the shehnai latetly. Intoxicating to say the least.
Shehnai has two immediate associations for me.
One is the Indpendence day. If we (me and my brother) are at home on an Independence day, it will invariably be the Desh raag on the Ustad's shehnai that will awaken us (we would be sleeping lazily while baba would have gotten up at the break of dawn to put on the TV). And second is of course marriage. Any Bengali marriage (why bengali, any North Indian marriage) is incomplete without the strains of the shehnai. In the early mornings what better to wake up an entire marriage party than play those mellifluous strains on the shahnai...still brings back distinct memories of chhoto mama's (younger maternal-uncle's) marriage.

Different raags on the different instruments evoke such varied emotions and feelings.
For instance, malhar on the sarangi (have been looking for malhar on the sarangi mp3s for quite sometime...haven't found any yet). If you've ever visted those raparts in Rajasthan, you'd know the power and beauty of the folksy Malhar songs accompanied by the sarangi...those rural singers performing in the courtyards of those ancient forts; they are meant to appease the rain gods, and we are mere humans!

Or the power of the Tabla.
Hyderabad had this tradition of hosting ustads and pandits for all night performances every few years at the Ravindra Bharati or the Lalita Kala Thorana and in those days (before event- management had happened) it was completely free. Yet seats would stay empty...but that hardly made any difference. Whenever possible, we (our entire family) would be there and sometimes get to be a part of the magic of a Zakir Hussain and Allah Rakhan performing together; that is a performance I still remember. The power of showmanship and intense energy (Zakir) tempered by the beauty of maturity and age (Allah Rakhan).

And it's not limited to Indian music or instruments alone. Had the good fortune of listening to Jazz in the mecca of Jazz, New Orleans (had gone there for a conference a few years back). Sitting in those seedy restaurants in the French Quarter by the river-side listening to the hopes of an entire community through the depth of jazz; how could one stay untouched!

Or the roadside music in Munich (I don't even remember the name of the quadrangle). It was just two players, one on violin and one playing a cross between a piano and harmonium (don't remember the name of the instrument)...they were musicians who played on the roadside for money (can't call them beggars), but what dexterity and depth....had to postpone all my activities that evening to listen to that music in that street corner (and though I couldn't give then any money, they were so thrilled to have somebody listening to them with such absorption and respect, that they played a few special compositions for me). Had a similar experience in the New York metro stations too but was too scared at that time to enjoy it fully (that was my first foreign trip for a conference).

Lucknow is supposed to be one of the seats of Hindustani Classical music and has the famous Bhatkhande University. One dream is to attend an all-night classical performance in this city of Nawabs. Hope modern Lucknow still continues the tradition of those vintage classical performances, and hope I'll be able to find time to witness one of those before I leave this place...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Exams...the period I hate most!

And it's back to the period I hate most, exams.
Rant, rail, crib, articles in god knows how many forums, complaints, discussions with all and sundry....nothing; nothing suffices in bringing out the extent of my disgust and disillusionment with this system of exams.

It has destroyed the joy of learning; why joy, even the meaning of learning...as the system has morphed to train people to excel at those three hour capsules of nonsense, sometimes administered by cabals with a questionable sense of judgement. The very foundation of the entire process rendered hollow by the effects of a forced lunacy of three hours...so hollow that people have assumed the lunacy and the entire build-up to that crescendo as normal and desired; and any attempt to correct it is greeted by a half-concealed smirk. An institutionalised subjugation of an individual's creativity to norms which - if he must make any real difference - he must first learn to question and then debunk if he deems so.

No I am not a victim of the system of exams, if reading the above makes you think so. Barring rare exceptions...I am supposed to have been coronated repeatedly by the system of exams...but that makes zilch of a difference. I don't have to be victimised before rebelling against something I consider bunkum.

Nah...won't write all that again...had posted something related to this on my earlier blog as well (...period that I hate most) but no point...no point atleast for now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Carving 'the' world into 'her' world

It was a beautiful world she abounded.
The flowers were in full bloom,
The birds chirped joyously,
And there was the essence of eternal spring;

And if there was a pest unexpected,
A thorn unwanted, or a bird hurt by careless gambol,
There she was,
Killing the pests, nipping the thorns, tending the birds,
Making sure the spring remained eternal.

Her world was ideal,
And when it was not ideal, she made it ideal.
Her world thanked her for that.
She was happy and so was her world;
But it was 'her' world.

And then the day came when she had to go out,
To 'the' world from 'her' world,
It was an arid desert,
Overwhelm, shock, suffocation; mild words these were;

And even from my distance,
I could feel the suppressed pain,
As she reminisced of her world,
A fading memory...
Guarded savagely from fading.

Yet she didn't turn back...

She planted buds in the arid land,
And watered them assiduously,
Toiled to bring water for those flowers from within her,
Day after day...
Till one morning the flowers bloomed.

Beautiful they were; scarce could I hold my delight on seeing those blooms.
She had carved 'the' world into 'her' world.

She was ecstasic again,
And the world thanked her for a beauty it had not known it possessed,

And I was content,
For she was happy and the world was happy;
And despite the distance of my perch,
in my own insignificant way,
I had tried to help her carve her world, the ideal world.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What's intuitive?

Well this question is the after-effect of a discussion with a friend yesterday...I've thought about this question many times earlier too, yet haven't been able to come up with a precise solution that satisfies me completely (ok, accepted very few things satisfy me :-)).

By intuitive I'm not referring to an approach to solving maths problems...what I'm refering to is the most natural way of doing things. Say wearing a sari is intuitive to our mothers (I'm not referring to new age moms), or using a mobile is intuitive to most people on this campus or using e-mails is intuitive to a whole generation brought up on computers. (maybe blogging will become intuitive for the next generation :-))

Any new technology/innovation changes what is intuitive, or what is the most prevelant way of doing things at the time of introduction of the technology/innovation. And that's one reason why new technology/innovation finds difficulty in gaining acceptance.
A walk-man changed the way I listened to music, and initially it wasn't intuitive or natural with those headphones and that bulk in my pocket, but nowadays it's almost as passe as doing anything else. Take any innovation in any field and you'll find this dilemma. It initially starts off by being very counter-intuitive to the 'usual' way till a point in time comes when the counter-intuitive becomes intuitive. And yet new technologies try their best to be as intuitive as possible in the the prevelant circumstances of introduction.

But what is currently intuitive is the result of a previous innovation...in trying to confirm to that definition of intuitive am I not cutting down on the quantum of innovation I would otherwise create. An ape-man would find everything counter-intuitive in even dida's (grandma's) generation, and if we had stuck to keeping new innovations intuitive from then on, would we have progressed at all?

On the other hand by being counter-intuitive, any new technology creates or exacerbates divisions in the society. Sometimes an entire segment falls behind in the march of progress because they're not able to get intuitive enough with something new and it's not always their fault. And this could be prevented if one could provide the new capabilities under garb of the existing intuitiveness. But how long would that be feasible?

I'm not sure, but my feeling is that in the long run only the 'best' innovation thrives irrespective of whether it's intuitive or not (what's intuitive will change if the innovation is worth it).

But there are two things that are important:

- Humans have a capability to accept jumps but that capability is limited if the time-frame is limited. So in the short run, that technology/innovation would do best (from the business point of view) that lies within this capability-band.
(There are some theories to judge this capability-band but I'm not too convinced with atleast the ones I've read...and for my own theory...another post...keep reading this blog :-)).

- The rules change completely from one intuitive framework to another (the new technology/innovation, the reason for this change). So if there are many competing innovations, it is imperative for the competitors to realise when the intuitive jump has happened among the target segment. Once the intuitive jump happens, the rules, the framework and even competition is completely different. The competitor might at best become a marginal player among an unitiated fraction of the segment. So if you are a competitor, you have to attack with all you have, before or at least when this change in intuitive framework is happening.
(Again there are many theories to judge the stage in this leap of intuitive frames, and again I'm not too happy with any...yes, I have my own theory and no I won't reveal it in this post :-D).

Well, I guess I've started repeating myself too much :-), so will conclude this post here but there's a lot more in my mind on this and hopefully I'll post all that sometime soon...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Appearing dumb!

There are so many ways in which you can end up looking like a fool, complete fool!

Somebody messages on Yahoo Messenger; the name is that of a good friend's, and soon there is a pleasant conversation flowing.
The conversation is nearly right...hmm nearly...but his answers are just a little too formal and sometimes just a little bit irrelevant...I mean he's supposed to be a good friend of mine.
Till halfway into the converstion, I've asked some god-damn personal question (luckily did not err on the side of revelation, or did I :-)) and then there's that odd delay in reply...
And then realisation dawns on this empty tank fixed on the neck...that this person might...just might be somebody else, and I end up trying to confirm...

Well guess what...he's a junior at IIM-L who'd written to me a long time back, and all the while I had assumed him to be my good old buddy from IIM-C; both have the same first name.

Yours sincerely had done the 'appearing dumb' trick again, but true to his reputation, he'd discovered a dumber style of looking dumb :-).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Illusory Oasis

(Class got over earlier than expected, time to scribble a little :-))

He had struggled for aeons through the desert,
Endless dunes is all he had seen in years so many,
Had imagined oases, all meaningless mirages; always,
And had reconciled to his destiny, the barren desert.

Scared he was of those illusory oases,
For his dreams had been smashed countless times,
He couldn't bear being shattered again, and again, and again...
So he gave up dreaming;

And after ages he had seen an oasis again,
He had seen...or maybe had allowed himself to see,
And he had felt the old thrill, the same scare,
He had felt...or maybe had allowed himself to feel;

And I prayed for him and for the desert,
That this time it wasn't a mirage.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ok, I had to come back

Ok, I'm back to writing the blog again...just can't get myself to try to understand the lines in those books...haven't done anything useful in the last 72 hrs (useful in the sense of the term as used by the world) and god knows when my order will be restored.

What's the use of that understanding which I insist upon so much anyway...in the exam I have to produce, not what I understand as right, but what the instructor thinks is right even if it is trash (and most often I can't do that). In projects it is constraints which determine the output rather than the actual understanding, sometimes even when no constraints actually exist. On the job, it'll be what the boss/colleague or customer wants.
OK, one can fight it out and convince others if one truly believes in it, or get convinced if he/she discovers the flaw in his belief...but what do you do if everybone knows what is wrong but still chooses not to see it...
Conspiracy of 'looking normal'...
I mean the system is such that it's so easy to do something that's totally, obviously wrong;
while the whole world is against you if you're trying to do it right...and that's no longer amusing.

A guy was sharpening his pencil and throwing the trash just outside the library door dirtying the otherwise clean quadrangle. Some other guy pointed it out to him, and my god!, what a look!!, not only from the guy who was dirtying the place but also from the guard on-duty. That 'other guy' will now think thrice before doing some such thing...and all through all parties knew what was right.

And it gets even more difficult to digest when those same people start discoursing about virtues at forums and times of their convenience...going to the extent of candidly accepting their own flawed actions and justifying it through sophistry...and it is all done in a tone so fortright that everybody accepts them as saviours. Anyway half the public lacks the capability to see through their sophistry and accepts them as heroes. And the other half which sees through the sophistry is impressed by the candidness and projected earnestness, so they too will not oppose. It's a win-win situation, even if the entire basis is just bogus.

...and how do you manage to lead that everyday life of yours as if nothing has happened; or have you lost your power of feeling; or maybe you too are a part of that conspiracy of 'looking normal'...I was just naive to think of you as otherwise...

This conspiracy of 'appearing normal', it'll suffocate me unless I break it down completely.


The trigger now is a discussion I was witness to, involving two people bargaining the price for a Nokia handset. (I seem to be observing and complaining a lot these days... observing I've always done, but complaining...hum, that requires explanation in another post! :-))

Won't deny that I have engaged/continue to engage in the practice of bargaining, though very infrequently. It is generally either to understand the process/art of bargaining or to prevent getting fleeced completely (which happens often :-)).

But I still don't understand the justification of bargaining...
Doesn't the seller realise his/her worth or the worth of what he/she is trying to hawk, and if he/she does how can he/she settle at any other price?
And on the other side of the fence, by bargaining am I not distrusting the other person's assessment of his/her own worth and judgement...who am I to do that, that too in so short a transaction?

When the first interaction I have with somebody is characterised by distrust, how can I ever build a relationship with him/her? By bargaining, right from the beginning I'm doubting the individual's judgement and thus destroying the most important basis of engagement.

One thing I've tried many times and it works...it's something like this...I just say to the other guy that I trust you completely and I'll pay whatever you ask because you believe it is worth it; it's like I surrender myself completely to him/her (ok it's not always so dramatic but that's the gist)...and more often than not instead of taking advantage of this surrender, the other guy then just quotes the right price and that's not all, he tries to justify his earlier action of quoting the exorbitant price and sometimes asks pardon...

Have tried this at numerous places...autos, taxis, rickshaws street-side hawkers, big bargain stores abroad...and rarely has it failed.

If you can free a human from his/her circumstance, even momentarily, you'll rarely find him sticking to his/her reprobative qualities...
(but for this to happen, you have to be ready to be completely honest yourself first)

This is what my limited understanding and experience tells me, is there any other perspective which I might have overlooked?

Sarkar and Sarkari cars

Finally managed to create time for a movie in the theatre. Watched Sarkar.
No comments about it here, there are enough in the journals already and you can watch it to form your own opinion.
We watched it at Waves, one of the poshest multiplexes at Lucknow.

But what was amusing was the scene outside the hall (This is not the first time I'm seeing such a scene but just that this time I feel like writing about it). The entire place was choc-o-bloc with Govternment vehicles, all with "On Duty" boards but there were only ladies and children coming out of them or getting into them! And while ordinary vehicles were stopped and redirected to the parking lot, these vehicles came right upto the stairs ignoring the calls from the security guards (they were 'on duty', weren't they?).

Just that it was a little more difficult to digest this than it usually is after watching Sarkar.
(Well, I did take a message from the movie though I'm not sure if the director wanted to convey that message!)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Her dance

It was as if the universe was in a trance,
As she went on with her frenzied dance,

In the middle of the desert, in the heart of the forest,
In the depths of the oceans, in the laps of the valley;

Till the rains had to drench the desert to touch her,
But they could not touch her;
And the fire had to scorch the forest to see her;
But he could not see her,
And the tempest had to eat up the ocean to swallow her,
But it could not swallow her;
And the gods had to descend to the valley to bless her,
But they could not bless her;

For she was dancing for her own joy,
A joy which others could only perceive but never partake.


If I didn't do it, he would have done it anyway,
If I didn't lead it, she would have led it anyway,
If I didn't follow it, he would have followed it anyway,
If I didn't win it, he would have won it anyway,
If I didn't lose it, she would have lost it anyway,
If I hadn't created it, he would have created it anyway,
If I hadn't destroyed it, she would have destroyed it anyway.

If I weren't doing what I am doing, he or she would have done it anyway;

If I weren't born, would a thing be any different from what it is anyway?
Or just another replaceable part of a 'machine' I don't understand, is that all I am anyway?

An evening of aimless flow

After so many days an evening when I resolved to do nothing deliberately... no academic study, no non-academic study, no discussions, no replying to mails, no going out, no talking to friends, no analysis of issues, nothing...wherever the aimless flow takes me...

Had lost concentration and patience in a class today and was trying to figure out what others were doing.
I've noticed it so many times, but still can't fully understand it...the writing of one's own name and embellishing it.
A name to me is nothing more than a concise representation of something; a trick I have to play on my mind due to its doltishness and incapacity; very replaceable and coincidental, and with no other significance whatsoever.

But maybe there is more that I don't understand...

Two classics by Cavafy

Maybe you've read Constantine Cavafy, reputed as one of modern Greek's finest poets.

Following are the English translations of two of his most acclaimed poems. They are classics in the Greek language and have meanings at many layers.

The first poem (The god forsakes Antony) is based on Plutarch's story and is an advice to Marcus Antonius (Anthony) on the last night before the fall of the great city of Alexandria, a poem on how one might face a great loss.

The second one (Ithaka) provides an interesting perspective on the necessity for ideals and goals, and the importance of the journey. It is one of my personal favourites.


The god forsakes Antony
-Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
(Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard )

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.


-Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
(Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard)

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Uniting Principle

The same models wherever I see,
Analogous principles wherever they may be,
In countless endeavours, seemingly endless sea,
Consistent canons of logic, bewitching simplicity.

For narrow disciplines are creations humans',
Isolated branches is not the natural tree,
The common principle, that thread of unity,
Uncovering that uniting principle will my redemption be.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Moments of life

Few moments of joy, a few of despair,
A few of longing, a few beyond repair;

That moment of suffocated frustration,
This moment of boundless joy,
Those moments of desperate boredom,
Some moments that even now annoy;

Moments spent dreaming on a bench by the wayside,
Moments of wonder at stars so many,
Moments of elation at that insignificant act of gratitude,
Some moments of madness, moments unlike any;

Few moments are all that remain of life,
Jewels to treasure from years so many,
Priceless diamonds you seldom realise,
till a turn in life when you look back...
Searching frantically for THAT moment, from moments so many.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Working to death

He worked...worked...worked,
For himself, for the love of his work,
for what he thought was right;
Not for credit, not for recognition;
He did not get any anyway.

In the world's eyes he was slipping,
and slipping...and slipping;
Yet he did not really care,
For he knew he was in the right,
And the world knew it too...

He worked himself to death.
Was his death wasted?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Milegi milegi

From the album Sunoh,
lyrics:Aslam, performed by Lucky Ali
Milegi milegi manzil
Chalke kahin door,
Aaye hain chale jaane ko
Aaye hain chale jaayenge
Door majboor, door majboor.

Milegi milegi...

Kaisi hai yeh duniya
Pyaar ka namo nishaan nahin,
Nadaan duniya waley dekho
Yahaan pey koi imaan nahin,
Akeley dhoondhtey...

Savera savera
Savera savera aayega, chal ke do kadam,
Faasley ghat jaayenge hosley badh jaayenge,
Chal ke do kadam.

Milegi milegi...

Chaltey duniya wale saarey
Rah magar anjaan kahin,
Main to hoon deewana meri deewangi benaam sahi,
Akeley dhoondhtey...

Mohabbat mohabbat
Mohabbat mohabbat milegi, chal ke do kadam,
Saathi se mil jaayenge
Baharein phir khil jaayenge,
Chal ke do kadam.

Milegi milegi...

A logistical nightmare!

Trying to work out a trip for a conference to China through a travel agent in Bangalore with the consulate in Mumbai/Delhi when you yourself are glued 24X7 to classes in Lucknow is by itself a logistical nightmare.
And add to that the prospect of convincing professors for leave of absence, and then you know the magnitude of the odds stacked against your attending a fully paid-for invited conference in the land of the dragons (isn't it obvious that seeing these things first hand is worth much more than a week of classes where - in the end- you're trying to understand the same thing through only simulated cases...wish it was obvious to everybody :-)).

Fingers crossed :-)


The Imrana case is finally being debated openly on various forums; a thin ray of hope of justice for the victim, and a society where such victimisations occur.

And we have a lady in the most powerful position of the country...
(I know Dr. Manmohan Singh is the PM)
And we have a National Commission for Women...
And we have various other institutions...
But we live in a society of vote-banks. So even those who'll oppose will oppose not because they consider the episode as violating all norms of human society, but because it caters to their own vote bank. This includes the media as well; these episodes are mere opportunities for them to multiply their reach, the more the dramatisation, the better for them.

Since childhood we've grown up learning to look the other way or keep silent as long as our own interests are achieved or not negatively affected (you're patted on the back as 'mature'). So even when somebody beside you is copying, 'honesty' at most lies in not seeing or showing your answer sheet; anything beyond that is unnecessary and risks your self interest. And anyway, by not being involved, you've managed to get your badge of honesty to boast to your own ego and to your other friends!

But even by the logic of self interest - understood properly - such courses of action are impossible to justify. It's only because we're incapable of seeing or understanding our self-interests in the long run that 'looking the other way' appears so attractive to us. Every single individual's interest is affected in the long run when things start falling apart; but by then it is too late for anybody to make any difference. But that's too far ahead into future for our everyday intelligence to cognise.

And we'll continue to be victimised till we realise this...

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Insti Parties and The Collective

The 'mass' never ceases to amaze...the outcome of the collective can be so different from individual aspirations...in fact one can easily manipulate it to be so. Does the collective have a life of its own, impossible to derive from individual cogs (as complexity theorists would argue)?

Observing these insti parties is always so stimulating and instructive. (After this sentence, I know you've classified me as insane :-), it doesn't matter; the desire to understand, that's what brings me to all sorts of places)
Play the songs in a different order and the aggregate frenzy is of a different kind. Serve slightly different drinks (or slightly change the quantities) and the outcome of the collective is so very different. The volume of the music, the beats, the lighting, its stength or frequency of flicker... all variables one can utilise to tailor the mood of the collective. At what stage does the individual will cease to resist and give in to the communal without recourse to reason; in fact enjoys the surrender? When does the group become a single entity swayed by a handful of variables controlled by a cabal?
And then observing the individuals...how somebody works through the mass to reach out to a target....how the individual gets trapped into a course of action which he/she wouldn't ordinarily do, just to stay in a peer group...the amazing change in certain individuals as inebriation progresses...

I can go on and on about my observations and inferences...

The 'collective from individual' theme is everywhere, right from the high-end processors that power mankind's technology to the politics that supposedly facilitate the realising of human aspirations.

Understanding clearly how the collective arises from the individual is probably the first step in distinguishing a Gandhi from Hitler; not in hindsight after all is over, but when the hypnosis actually on.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The 'Bubbly girl'

[All characters in this post(except me of course) are purely fictional. Any resemblance to any living person is regretted. The dead are beyond the scope of this post.]
Nowadays with the overpopulation in the mess, you end up sitting on tables with diverse, different bunches, every single meal of the day. And sometimes the discussions you get to overhear are pretty amusing.

First the context (if you've not figured already from the title) ; a new segment seems to have been added to the pre-existing segments into which pretty members of the opposite sex are getting classified. And that's the 'bubbly girl' segment.
Now what exactly are the attributes of a 'bubbly girl', that's been the source of many a passionate discussion at mess tables (Plz remember that this is a discussion among b-school grads, prospective marketing and advertisement whizs, so they've got to use special jargon in special ways for ordinary things; it makes them feel special :-)).

-"The bubbly girl must be intelligent and independent because Preity Zinta, the mascot is intelligent and independent."
(Guess he keeps a dossier on Ms Zinta's life :-))

-"o, the bubbly girl must be dumb because Zinta, throughout her career has been dumb enough to fall for dumb heroes in dumb movies."
(I love this line :-))

-"But we're missing the point, it's not Zinta but the advertising manager's mind that'll tell us about the bubbly girl; now since he's chosen Zinta with so many other faltering/aged super-stars in a single ad, what does that convey about the bubbly girl positioning; insecurity, a need to recapture the centrestage at all costs."
(I'm too scared to imagine what our friend will do when he becomes an advertising manager :-))

-"Ah we're missing the central thing, it's Pepsi that's the bubbly product. What we've got to understand is whether Pepsi has an intelligent brand image, then we'll know whether the bubbly girl is intelligent."
(Now don't ask me how a bottle of coloured water could have an intelligent image :-))

Well, I'm not sure if a final consensus was reached, but one thing is for sure, that Pepsi ad is a huge hit :-).

Thursday, June 30, 2005

After these placement funda sessions...

Don't know, it's just a sinking feeling after these sessions...

But I want to understand the meaning of it all, and through that understanding change the world...work on ideas which will revolutionise the way mankind thinks and works...transform the real to the ideal world...and enjoy the process of doing all this...

Will I get lost in the lanes and by-lanes of the real world, playing to the gallery, ending up like the 'normallest' of the 'normal' that inhabit this place; while all this remains just vague ideas, pipe dreams...the mere content of thoughts, blogs or poems...

Don't laugh at me...these thoughts haunt me night and day even as life goes on as if nothing has happened...
Does something ever happen?
Sorry, I'm just babbling...it's too real a fear for me, I don't know whether you understand... but I must stop...stop...stop.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bring you back to me

If only tears could bring you back to me,
Cry all day long, I'm doing that for you,
If only prayers could bring you back to me,
In every shrine I'd beg, however untrue.

If sorrow could bring you back to me,
The depths of grief, I've seen that for you,
If something at all could bring you back to me,
Just tell me...tell me, I'll do that for you.

Walk ahead, I cannot without you,
For purpose what, where do I go?
Just what do I do to bring you back,
Can nothing ever change this flow?

As long as you were there...

Countless hours that you were there,
Never knew the need for you,
Just knew your presence there,
Rarely felt the time for you;

Seldom acknowledged your silent greeting,
Never answered your wordless smile,
Yet a propinquity unknown somewhere,
Hardly found probing it worthwhile;

Till the time you had to go,
Till the moment you had to leave,
Then realisation slowly dawned,
The sudden shock...measureless grief.

Won't you ever come back again?
Sit once more in that corner of yours,
I pledge, I promise, I'll give everything way,
For that silent greeting, wordless smile of yours...

Monday, June 27, 2005

His life

All round him, they strived higher and higher,
Acme the aim, the pinnacle their call;
While he too struggled, higher and higher,
With motive contrary, for the exhilirating fall.

All round him, were go-getting achievers,
Success for sure, whether short or long haul;
While he too succeeded, by standards his own,
Living moment to moment, in search of his call.

By standards his own, with motives contrary,
His life full of zest, stripped of banal;
They called it insane, he found it thrilling,
A different beat...by no means small.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Dance bars, Child labour and a personal experience

The immediate context of this post is Governor Krishna's decision (in Maharashtra) sending back the ordinance for banning dance bars. I haven't yet thought about the problem in detail but my perception, based on whatever I superficially gathered during my short stay in Mumbai is that if these ladies weren't in the dance bar, given their abject condition, they would be forced to move into flesh trade. True, exploitation is high in these bars and probably there is flesh trade going on behind the scene in certain bars, yet to a certain section it provides the hope of earning a living without complete loss of dignity.

And there is basic flaw in the philosophy behind imposing a ban on dance bars. These bars are not going into the drawing rooms of homes, i.e. they are not a forced choice but just an increase in available choice. If one considers visits to dance bars as wrong, the flaw is with those lecherous men who frequent the dance bars. They should be the target of reform.

Dance bars arose because a need for them existed. That need will remain till people change, whether or not you ban dance bars. It is easier if that need is fulfilled in the legal market because the government has its authority there. Otherwise, it moves to the grey market where things are murky and beyond law. Similar to the betting problem in cricket; the government bans it in the open and it finds a vigorous nurturance in the black market.

The dance bar girls also have a need, the need for a livelihood. Banning the dance bars won't eliminate this need, it will only force them to choose a different route to satisfy that need. The ladies in these bars, by virtue of the close nexus, are very vulnerable to being pushed into flesh trade; the income from the dance bars being their insurance against this degradation. And that would have been taken away with the ban.
Rehabilitation must happen first and a ban must arise as a consequence of this rehabilitation (i.e. no more ladies left to dance in the bars) rather than rehabilitation as a consequence of the ban (and I'm not even sure there's a proper rehab plan and even if there is one, it'll be botched up since botching up is in everybody, except the dance girl's, interest.)

True, the middle men like the dance bar owners need to be vigorously disciplined, in many cases they are the perpetrators of horrible exploitation. But that can be done if the government is really determined (nexuses are broken), and only if the entire business is in the open, the middle men are under the strict ambit of law.

There is a lot more that I have to say on the issue but will post all that after a thorough analysis, whenever I get time for that.

Though not directly related, many of the issues and challenges involved in eliminating child labour are similar. An abiding memory of my stay in Mumbai is this incident...

I had to catch an early morning train from Victoria Terminus and was travelling from Mumbai to Kharagpur. The local trains don't run from around 2:00 am to 5:00 am and I was staying in far away Andheri, so I decided to come to the station the previous night itself.
On a bench opposite to the platform where I was waiting, there was this kid around 10-11 years of age sitting alone, all my himself. As the night grew, the station started emptying till by around two to two-thirty all platforms were deserted (or had people fast asleep on the benches). And the kid was still there sitting on the bench but now he was sobbing. That's when I started conversation with him and called him over. He told me that he was the child of quarry labourers at the station in Nagpur and that his mother had put him to sleep in a train not realising that the train was to leave soon.The kid awoke to find himself in this station two days back and there he was sitting on that bench for the last two days without any food. And he had no contact details of anybody, no phone number, no address, nothing.

First bought him food (Mumbai hotels are open throughout the night) and then decided to take him to the police station to file a case, but the kid was distinctly uncomfortable with this. Yet I persisted.

Well, at the police station, it was again a shock. The officer wouldn't register a case saying that that there were thousands of kids who got lost in Mumbai everyday and it was impossible to trace everybody's home. They wouldn't file an FIR as that would mean a written record. I was told that the kid would surely be a small time crook and since I looked decent, it was in my interest to leave him alone otherwise I would be swindled and then I couldn't blame the officer that I had not been warned. And the kid too was too scared to provide his assent. All arguments were of no use, I was only a middle link where both the ends were uninterested.

Nagpur comes on the way to Kharagpur (when one is travelling from Mumbai on that train, and the last station on that route is Kolkata) and the only available course then was to get this kid onto my train. The stop at Nagpur was for about half-an-hour, and the kid had said that they lived in a shanty by the station. The idea was to leave him at his home within the half hour and re-board, or otherwise break my journey at Nagpur.

What happened at Nagpur was another shock. I was all ready with my luggage to get down but the kid wouldn't budge. Surprise after surprise.Then he told me...Nagpur wasn't his home...he wasn't a quarry worker's kid...he was not lost in VT...he had been Mumbai for the last 5-6 years...his parents were labourers in Kolkata...he had been sent to Mumbai to earn money...two days back his Seth had misbehaved with him and had thrown him out...and he was trying to get back to Kolkata somehow...

Don't think I can forget that moment... it was a feeling of pure helplessness...I was lost...

I didn't even know whether to trust him...
Well, the train was upto Kolkata anyway, I got down at Kharagpur after making sure that he would get to Kolkata. Tried explaining to him that I would have helped him anyway, even if he had told me the truth. But his explanation was that if he had said the truth in Mumbai, I might have sent him back to the Seth. Tried to extract a promise from him that he wouldn't lie in the future...I doubt whether he kept it...

And the funny thing was the reaction from my relatives on reaching my destination (I never hide anything from them) . I was called a fool, a naive...god knows what else. I could have got swindled...I could have got killed...Mumbai is known for such incidents...that kid could be part of a big gang...naives like me would always land up in trouble. It was difficult...they were speaking in my interest... for what they believed was my good, but it wasn't convincing....there were earnest attempts made to help me realise that I was a man in the 'real', bad world and had to behave accordingly.

Well, I've seen it and tried to fight it first hand, not once, but many times in my own small ways.
Before feeling those sudden pangs for the underprivileged and before formulating those policies in air-conditioned rooms, one needs to see, feel and understand the 'real' world; only then can one make any 'real' difference.

Their 'Love'

He said he adored her sense of independence,
But actually, from her dependence he got his;
He said he admired her strength,
But actually, from her weakening he derived his;
He said he revered her freedom,
But actually, in her blind devotion he felt his;

She said she cherished her own independence,
But she wanted his backbone, to depend on;
She said she relied on her own strength,
But she wanted his support, for her weakness;
She said her nourishment was her own freedom,
But she wanted his will, to surrender hers completely;

And they were said to be in love,
Gazing into each other's eyes...
And I did not know whether to admonish him, or her...

Or probably myself, for not being able to understand...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Getting the right seat

In some classes I come a little early so that I get a seat in the last row.
In other classes I come a little early so that I get to sit in the first few rows.
(Yep, classes are just full.)
Well, I anyway end up coming to class a little early :-).
And the reason is simple, I want the 'freedom to choose'.
(Of course, I partially give up my freedom in arrival time in the bargain, but again that's 'my' choice in this trade-off.)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Freedom and writing poetry

Tried the experiment again and it just won't work out...

Almost all the poems posted on the blog I have written spontaneously sitting before the computer and only once in the older blog did I post a poem written earlier. And there is a pre-condition before I can start writing - freedom; mentally atleast complete freedom even if the poem is about constraints.

There is more than an hour left for class and under normal conditions quite enough time for me to write two or more poems, but with this constraint it won't come. (Of course, typing something which I've written out earlier is no problem).

Spontaneity requires freedom, atleast for me.

Baba promised that he would get a book of poems of mine published if I could give him 100 poems by the 4th Year... that book never got published...

Do I sound completely crazy? :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Socratic method, immediate reactions

Some immediate random reactions to a session of Socratic teaching (before hindsight reasoning or rationalisation sets in)

To Socrates:
1. Accept the don't knows
2. Don't reduce it to a mechanical interrogation. No questions must be asked to just rankle the learner. Lower the rope a little when the learner is falling short, keep it a discussion among fallible individuals trying to discover something together.
3. Conclude each individual question-thread. A bouquet conclusion in the end is not enough.

Such sessions are interesting if the learner is interested provided both the learner and Socrates keep their ego away.

Will post something more well thought out later...just came out of a Socratic session and have to grab lunch before I attend what I expect to be another session of Socratic teaching.

How do you find Socratic methods?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Precision of perfection

The perfection of precision,
Sublime joy of just-the-required,
Refined harmony of the razor of Occam;

Simple but not simpler,
No more, no less, no waste;

For Humans or Gods...?

Modified an earlier post.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Logic in a sequence

Vicious cycles are always fascinating. Understanding the detailed logic and figuring out the right point of attack for breaking a loop is always a joy. Till you get a hang of the logic, the sequence is like a decimal representation of an irrational number (non-periodic, non-terminating); equipped with the logic you see one form of the decimal representation of a rational number (periodic, non-terminating) and there's a certain thrill in that.

One loop which I've been trying to figure out on-and-off for the past few days is my disc-man's random-play option which I'm sure is not random. For the kind of chip it uses, perfect random-play is impossible. I read the algorithms for generation of random numbers in old russian computers when fiddling with monte carlo simulation from Sobol and have a rough idea of how the random generation works in the memory, and I'm sure my disc-man hasn't any of that complexity.
The current status is that I have a few sequences; for instance for my test CD, for any of the first few songs, I can give you the entire sequence of songs that's going to play (given a starting song, I can tell you the interval after which a certain sequence will repeat). Yet I haven't yet been been able to figure out the generalised functions ... :-(

Digressing a little form the main theme, in the current status, I'm in a position to evoke the awe of a visitor to my room after a small demo, especially when I add a 'mumbo-jumbo' function during the demo. This status is like the status of many of our rituals; they yield the results, but with loss of understanding of the logic over the years, they appear random to its 'current advocates' who only see the sequence and have to take recourse in the power of authority or superstition or superficial-and-fallacious to ensure adherence.
Nah, don't worry, I don't intend joining that 'current advocates' pack and won't trick you with that demo :-).

Friday, June 17, 2005

Her intolerable anguish

Flaws she could clearly discern,
yet ideal solution she did not know;
Gaps only she could see,
yet the filled mosaic she could not conceive;
Blemishes only she could feel,
yet the perfection she could not conjure;

She suffered the agony of knowing,
the torment of not knowing;

Her anguish was intolerable...

Praise She couldn't suffer

He tore her apart through praise,
not an uttered word was not praise,
Yet she felt the lacerations,
as encomiums continued unabated;
Till the wounds consumed her;

The accolade at its crescendo,
and then she could suffer it no longer.

For he praised her for what she had not,
for what she craved, yet could not possess,
Every praise was a deprecation for her,
while the fool was lost in his panegyric reverie;

The pang of each peaean,
till it was beyond feeling;

While all she wanted from him was just the truth of understanding.

Grains of sand

The sand-clock on the mantelpiece,
Constantly flowing grains of sand;
Another second lost to my past,
A vicarious decision for me by that grain,
One more moment beyond my control,
Grain in the bank of memory,
A silent witness I,
As my grains flow;
Hoping for grains yet to flow,
Struggling with the grains already flowed,
Suffocated by grains,
While the grains flow uninterrupted of their own accord...


Opened Yahoo messenger after so many months...so many old messages, so many new contacts (all my summer training and old and new B'lore friends and many more) and the computer at the CC hung as soon as I opened messenger; archiving is not on since I use computers at CC and cafes...everything lost, no fault of mine yet can't stop thinking and re-thinking and blaming myself about it.

It was a random event and that's the entire point...random events can wreck you and there is no learning to be incorporated from them...they're random by nature...yet they might leave lasting impressions (for instance the entire QAM3 episode :-))...

How do you deal with random events...accept it as fate...nah...there must be better alternatives...


The acquiring of 'real' knowledge requires that you completely discount the background/status of the imparter of knowledge, and judge only on the basis of knowledge imparted.

But many institutions of society like the family, classroom, friendships, religion, patriotism etc. very often and to varying degrees depend for their survival on just the opposite i.e. discounting of the quality of knowledge imparted in favour of background/status of the imparter.
('respect' as a result of 'extraneous' factors even when the flaws in the quality of knowledge are apparent to you)
How long can these institutions survive with this contradiction....

Have you ever felt this tension, this inherent inconsistency?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Mobile covers and economic theory!

About a year and a half back, bought a cover for my mobile from one of those ubiquitous small shops in Mumbai; it's a very hardy 'unstylish' cover and will probably last many more years. Every few days, the cover gets very dirty and I have to clean it.
It appeared very dirty today and had to clean it before dinner, that set me thinking...

The mobile is still almost in the brand new condition. Yet the cover gets dirty very often and that means for me, the mobile is dirty very often...and I'm sure one fine morning I'll find the mobile has stopped working...so in trying to keep it clean, I'll end up having used a dirty mobile throughout its working life, though it will die a clean death :-).

Irrespective of what Economics says about "savings-postponement of consumption-consumption" for 'rational' human beings, I haven't found a model which works for an 'irrational' ,'real' being like me.

Do you know of any?

Trust my follies! (Update: Not this time!)

OK, I won't remove the post but I wasn't careless, the entire initial communication from their side mentioned only the August 30th deadline, the 28th April thing was expected maybe but never mentioned in their communication till the end, and that communication happened only after I probed.
I wasn't at fault this time though the original post might make you think otherwise.
- June 19, 2005

Sometimes my carelessness amazes me :-), especially when contrasted with how I usually am.

There is some new idea on which you've thought in great detail, your new paper is almost ready, you've checked the paper submission deadline long ago, it's Aug. 30th so you think you're tucked snugly...for once you're beating deadlines...and then before printing the final thing, you check the deadlines once again just to make sure... and there it is... proof of your 'master' folly, there's an entry form submission deadline without which you can't send the final paper and the deadline for that is 28th April (1 month+18 days earlier)...and then, then your folly hits you :-((.

Didn't somebody say, no learning goes waste;
let's hope for my sake no thought/idea goes waste.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Surviving the questions on day-1

The first few days are always the most difficult when you're meeting a large number of friends after a 2 month hiatus.
The same set of questions repeat again and again and again till you are beyond bored. It starts off at the airport itself because given the few alternative flights available, you end up with a few friends on the flight itself...but at that time those questions are still interesting. Then once you're on campus, a few more friends and the same questions...by then you're already reeling things out of memory. By the time you're getting up the hostel stairs, you're literally scared of boring yourself to death by repeating the same raam-katha, so consciously/sub-consciously new details have become conspicuous. Then as you proceed towards the mess, you're preparing an elaborate offensive to wreck the next friend who'll ask you the same questions.
By the time you're at the registration counter you're ready with the perfect foil; if there is any possibility of a conversation going beyond 'hi-bye' (and you try to prevent this with all your might using various ruses, for instance looking somewhere else when the other person is looking at you) , you're ready to garner the entire first-mover advantage by hurtling "the same questions" before the other guy can even open his mouth, but there's the accompanying smirk on your face for the guy on the other side to latch on...if he's intelligent enough the guy immediately realises the reason for this attack with the MOABs, afterall he's been suffering the same thing...there's a good laugh and at last the two of you are talking 'substance'... beyond those formal questions.

Sometimes formalities and rituals get ridiculous; it's even more ridiculous when people, despite seeing the ridiculousness, stick to it.

Life, much beyond

I have this habit of neatly stacking into files and boxes every relevant piece of paper. The entire afternoon has been devoted to filling up the Term-III and Summer Internship boxes.
In myriad hue boxes,
moments of life lay captured.
From instant to instant,
from box to box,
from memory to memory,
the ebb and flow of a life.
What thread runs through the boxes many?
What holds a life together?
Life, a succession of moments;
yet much beyond those moments capture,
much beyond those boxes store,
much beyond...much beyond...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

All the world's a stage!

It is a little surprising to see people blend in so well into their roles.
For example the boss becoming a subordinate when the boss' boss is around or the subordinate becoming the boss when the subordinate's subordinate is around.

We're all playing our roles to perfection...but how much of the "individual" remains as we hop from role to role on this stage called life.

By the way, talking about bosses and subordinates :-), if given a choice would you prefer being a big shark in a small pond or an ok-sized shark in a big pond
or like me, you just enjoy the swimming and care little about little else :-).

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Child; my Failure and our Success

Don't get wild ideas after reading the title :-); have some time left before the taxi comes to pick us up from IIM-B, probably my last post from the CC here.

True, a child in many ways represents hope for our species. Most people, if asked about what they feel is closest to God, would reply, "the innocent child". The child binds us as a species and is the repository of mankind's accumulated knowledge upto its generation. (I'll refer to the child in the neutral) .The child is the hope that whatever little experience the individual gains, whatever little 'better' understanding that one accrues in a life-time will not be lost completely on death. "It" is also the hope that as a species, as a collective entity, we might succeed...

But "it" represents beyond that. A child also represents my failure as an individual entity, hence the appeal to the next generation. "It" might represent hope for collective success but is a sign of individual defeat...I haven't been to conclude the game with myself- rather I've lost- hence I introduce a new player in the hope of a vicarious success. "It" is also a symbol of my selfishness - I'm throwing "it" into a rebus which has trounced me, eaten me up, for a distant doubtful surrogate victory. "It" is a symbol of surrender to pre-ordained rules of a game over which we have little control...

O! Child, you never cease to amaze me!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

9 more months

Less than two weeks left for our reporting date.
And although I'm going back of my own free will to complete the remaining nine months of the course, I'm not 'really' looking forward to it.

There's a basic incompatibility betweeen the way in which the course is administered and the way in which I like learning. They use deadlines, threats, punishments and rewards, coercion, compulsions and simulated competition as the means to bring out what they think is the best in students.

The necessary prerequisite for my learning is freedom. I'm learning because I enjoy learning, and will learn the stuff that I enjoy. I do not need those external stimulants to induce me to learn, they only serve to restrict the freedom. I get my kick out of learning itself, not the marks they might fetch me in the exams or the placement they might get me nine months hence. In a constrained environment, the aim is to carve out as much time as possible for my own pursuits, surrendering minimal time and effort to the prescribed courses to just ensure that I stay afloat (or above the hygiene level). And this happens even if the pursuit matches the prescribed course; more often than not there is little co-relation between the half-baked, exam-focussed babbling in classes and my own unconstrained attempts at grasping the beauty. Had felt a similar distate in Ramaiah, got out of that place in less than 5 months and didn't much care after that; that precipitated so many other things...

And few custodians inspire confidence. I dug a little deep during the Term 3 fracas, found it murky.

It's not that I didn't enjoy the last year, but most of it was outside the official prescriptions. Over the years I've learned to find my happiness irrespective of what's going on around. And one thing is certain, the garden there is definitely beautiful, only the official way of exposing you to its beauty isn't.
And it always helps if the environment around aids, rather than bars the process.

Don't know how much I'll be able to post in the coming few days. And once I get to Lucknow the frequency of posts will anyway decrease in the absence of a computer in my room.

Take care, dear friend!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

'You' from 'your circumstance'

How much of you is inherently you and how much of you is a result of your circumstance?

I frankly don't know how.

But I increasingly get the feeling that many of the things that I'm doing, I would invariably do whatever my circumstance. These two months stay at Bangalore has served to heighten that feeling...

A short swaralipi composition in raag bihaag

Teen taal ; l = lower, h=higher


ga - sa - - ga - ma pa ni - pa - ga - ma

ni(l) ni(l) pa(l) sa - - ga - ma - ga - sa - - -


pa ma ga ma pa ni - sa(h) ma(h) - ga(h) - sa(h) - - -

ni sa(h) ga(h) ma(h) pa(h) ga(h) - ma(h) ga(h) - sa(h) - ni ni pa sa(h)

- - - - ga - ma - pa ma ga ma ga - sa -

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Reasoned Unreasonableness

I reason reason all the time,
In reason lies true delight,
But has reason reason all the time,
Made me blind to real flight?

The joys of loony irrationality,
Whimsical action without hindsight,
Leaps of faith of an unconstrained mind,
Unyoked actions free from fright...

Yet being inane is just part of me,
Flights of fantasy a perpetual excite,
Reason reason just makes me aware,
It doesn't confine my sight.

For reason is the only yardstick I've got,
Its many many flaws despite,
It does not constrain unreasonable pleasures of life,
Just makes me aware of my plight.

Like now, when reason tells me that I should be tucked comfortably in bed, but here I am in my cabin...
If you've somehow gotten the notion that I have lots of free time here, just check the timings of the posts, they're always written in some break when I'm short-circuiting a lunch or snack or in most cases in the dead of night, when I'm pulling the plug off my sleep. And my 'dear friend Reason' tells me that it's bad for my health, but it's more fun when you're doing something unreasonable and are aware of it :-).
( If you didn't get it, check this space again later, I'll elaborate my funda behind the previous statement in a subsequent post :-))

'x' and 'y'

Well, I have in my posession 'x' and frankly 'x' is enough to keep most beings happy.
But I somehow manage to scent a 'y'. And irrespective of whether 'y' is positive or negative, I end up fiddling with 'y' to have 'x+y'...
Call it my comedy or tragedy or whatever you may like... I need to find the 'y's at regular intervals.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The private buses in Maratahalli and the thoughts they provoke

If you've tried travelling by bus from Maratahalli to ITPL then you'll easily be able to relate to what I'm saying. Maratahalli to ITPL is the last stretch I have to cover to get to office from the IIM-B hostel if I miss the company bus. During the mornings and evenings there are unimaginable multitudes waiting at Maratahalli to get to their offices in Whitefield, while during the rest of the day the numbers are lesser. And the government buses on this stretch are very very infrequent. So a number of private transporters have cropped up in recent times to ferry passengers in this stretch. This post is about them.

Firstly during the mornings, these private buses don't start moving till they are so full that passengers within have passed beyond the phase of being affected by gaudy perfumes and body odours and are praying solely for suvival during the coming half-an-hour in the limited supply of odoured oxygen.

Once they start (if they start, that is) these private buses will stop anywhere and everywhere; the scent of a prospective passenger is enough to lure the bus to a halt.

And these private buses hardly ply during the day as they engage in the day long wait for the bus to get full.

Well what I find disconcerting in all this is that given an opportunity to work by themselves, most private players under such conditions look at short term gains (their reason, I've asked them...they don't know how long they'll be allowed to work before the govt. clamps restrictions...so recover initial costs as soon as possible and keep day to day operations as profitable as possible.)
The govt. in turn uses the mis-service as a pretext to clamp guidelines for so-called public well-being (especially when the election is round the corner or when some big babu has a small score to settle).
And the government and its men know pretty well that these restrictions are difficult to follow so the benevolent "pointsmen" are ready to look the other way (mind you, for public good, they say) as long as palms are greased.

Each involved party is trying to maximise benefits to his/her constituent, yet 'as a whole' the system is falling apart. And for many of us this provides a perfect case for the Big Brother's ( Government, for those who haven't read Orwell's 1984) intervention despite accompanying inadequacies.

But isn't the root cause somewhere else?
The higher the uncertainty you allow in a system, the greater the possibility that solutions beneficial to individual parties are baleful to the system as a whole.

Is there a mathematical formuation for this already in Game theory or do I have to go to a bar and gaze at maidens for that 'Nashish' mathematical inspiration ;-).
(Maybe, Maratahalli buses are a better place for that inspiration :-))

Monday, May 30, 2005


Lush greenery just outside, endless expanse just ahead;
Flying birds soaring high outside, unfettered freedom just ahead;
Cloudy heavens I see clearly from here, gay abandon just ahead;
Cadence of raindrops just audible in my cabin, the sublime song ahead;

Yet the transparent glazed glass of inhibition and comfort around this air-conditioned glass tower,
"They" always remain enticingly ahead...

Some time for me alone

Away from work, from play;
From failure or success;
Away from arraignments, from commitments;
From despair or hope;
Away from doubt, from certainty;
From learning or teaching;
Away from hate, from love;
From cowardice or courage;
Away from ludicrous, from logic;
From vacuity or thought...

Some time away, some of my time for Me alone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Beyond supeficial formalities

Itinerant travelers on the unknown road, You and I,
Not a word spoken beyond superficial formalities;
Fears alike, hopes alike, predicament alike;
United by the road, separated by our understanding,
Never a sound beyond superficial formalities.

Sufferings the same, yet we suffer differently;
Joys common, yet we celebrate differently;
The one road, yet we see it differently;

I read your written words; You, my musings,
Disparate themes, yet do we feel differently?

Itinerant travelers we are, united by the road, separated by our understanding,
When will we talk beyond superficial formalities?

Work at Bombay done, moving to Hyderabad to visit the Ranga Reddy district depot.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Distances when none exist!

During this B'lore stay, I've gotten in touch with most of my old friends (even friends who I didn't know as friends in college). Was thinking about this at lunchtime and it struck me as a little surprising.

My means of contact with most friends has been phone, mail, orkut and very infrequently a meeting-up. All of these except the last one are possible even when I'm in Lucknow, and anyway I've been too occupied here to meet up with people. Yet it's generally when I'm in B'lore that this plethora of communication happens with the B'lore friends. Similarly only when I'm in Bombay do I end up exchanging notes with friends there.

One way that's good...with acquaintances if you exchange notes infrequently, you atleast have something to exchange other than the 'trivial' or 'excessively involved'. Yet quite often, this is a consequence rather than a reason.

Haven't we yet evolved fully to internalise the 'near' inconsequence of physical distances (or is it, even in this case, I am the odd sample :-))?

Another few hours before I'm again off to Bombay...so beware my Bombay friends :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Depot & Wavelengths

Successful visit...it was an experience, seeing the entire thing work in the ocean of Rin and Wheel and Lux and Fair n Lovely and Surf and Lifebuoy and Sunsilk and Bru and Lipton...and...you name it and there's every possibility that it's HLL's brand.

In the first half it looked the entire thing might fall apart, I was speaking in my language while the manager was understanding in his ...only in the second half could we get the nuances each other's language.

This is always a little tricky...gauging the wavelength of the other person as soon as possible; if it matches fine...if it doesn't then...then what do you do??

Friday, May 20, 2005

Wondering about 'It'

Some time left for the car to come as I embark on the first leg of interactions and dakshin bharat darshan to gauge how well those 'doodles in my notebook' and and 'coloured specks on my computer simulation model' work in reality... some time left to write something :-).

Have you ever wondered how this entire game (the game we're playing here as we live) would appear to somebody (or something) totally disconnected. Would 'it' stand in awe or laugh at our folly. (Don't jump to the conclusion that I'm talking about ETs, shelter a human till he reaches maturity and then expose him to the world and you're doing 'almost' the same thing....if you can erase the 'generational' notions as well it'll work even better) .

It would be an 'it' right... all these notions, biases, prejudices, breakthroughs are our just our creation. And saying that that the perception would depend on 'it's' intelligence is again controversial because most of our intelligence itself is shaped by our surroundings either during our life-time or over the life times of generations.

It's sometimes good to think of yourself as that 'it'; helps you see the world from a new perspective, helps you see many 'obvious' and 'unobvious' things....

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This fascination for CAUSES!

Don't you see it my friend...

As an individual, you are violable; you are a miniscule, insignificant pawn, harried, battered and infirm; above all you die - complete annihilation.

Yet the moment you give yourself over to a CAUSE, you can defy all this. By being the ephemeral cell of an organism which might survive to perpetuity, you try to gain significance, power and immortality.
Through absolute surrender you try to gain absolute liberty.
Through absolute slavery you try to attain absolute freedom.

Yet is the 'you' which might attain freedom even related to the 'you' which wants the freedom?

And you've given various names to celebrate 'the CAUSE',

You've called it 'the fight for justice', 'socialism' or 'capitalism' ;
you've called it 'democracy', 'autocracy' or 'theocracy';
you've called it 'the institution', 'the business', or 'the company';
you've called it 'the Colosseum', 'pyramid' or 'Taj Mahal';
you've called it 'Hinduism', 'Islam', or 'Christianity'
and so many other things.
You've called it God...

My friend, can't you see through it all?

What really matters and the purpose of it all...

There was a long time, when joining IAS was what I wanted to do when I grew up (some school friends are still surprised that I haven't yet become an IAS officer :-)) . The attainment and rightful administration of power was the chosen way to improve the lot of fellow beings and rooting out the inefficiencies.

But then when pressed a little deeper, things started falling apart. Nehru's socialist policies were hailed in his day, now they are decried as having prevented us from unleashing our full potential....communism was panaecia only a few decades back, it now remains only a closet from which only brutalised skeletons of tin-pot dicatators fall out (maybe it would be just the other way round if the communists succeeded in the cold war)....two generations back you were hailed for urbanising forests, today you'll get the same prize for afforestation...consuming was bad yesterday, today that's what governments want their people to, tomorrow it might be bad again...the list can go on endlessly.

Very few administrators have the humility to accept that they don't know if what they're doing is good; that they're following a momentary paradigm (I'm talking of only the honest leaders here) which in the long run might cause more harm than good, or maybe not...it's a random game, because in reality they don't know. (Most will give you all sorts of ludicrous baloney to convince you otherwise...they'll even show you their momentary laurels in a bid to convice you and you will get convinced).

How many 'generations of moments' have we lost in trying to rectify the heroisms of a few moments....

The moment you're aware of the fallibility of your judgement in the overall scheme of things, the inherent uncertainty and doubt... that's when you're taking your first tentative step towards 'real' administration. But once you frankly admit your ignorance, you will also feel the need to 'know' things, more than administrating fellow beings as intelligent/ignorant as you. Administration, in fact every other activity, will flow as a result of this urge 'to know'...

The more and more I see, the more and more it appears to me this way... that all this song and dance, and poetry and music, and administration and philospohy, love, hate, procreation and annihilation.....it is all for the purpose of pushing that frontier of knowledge.

In the overall scheme of things, that is what 'really' matters.

Will 'free' things make life better?

The trucks in my model are moving from stockist to stockist distributing the items required, but for some reason no costs are being recorded....it's all gratuity...it's free (and long hours await me as I explore the entrails of matrices and equations :-)).

But tell me, if I could do this in reality, make everything free...would it actually improve the human lot (don't give me those cliched economists' answers).

What is money and what is free? If I banish that note, does that banish money....if I ban gold and silver, does that banish money...if I ban all form of transactions, does that make a difference...can a society exist as a conept without money.....???
Think my friend, think!!!

Well, got to go back to what I was doing, enough of a break for now.

buzzing in my head


"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four."


"Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood."


- 1984, George Orwell

My lucky pen :-)

Guess most of us, despite all our rationalities, have done this sometime or the other (atleast Ganguly does it, remember him changing his jersey during the world cup match)....that lucky pen for the exam, this lucky shirt for the interview, that lucky seat in the exam hall etc. etc. .....

One approach to this phenomenon would be to dismiss the entire thing as superstitions of poor mortals.
But there's a different way of looking at it which I find more convincing.

There is a limit to the number of "independent" events which the human brain is capable of storing. The easiest way to store 'more and more' info is to link the info up, create causal dependencies and relationships (that's what those 10 day memory techniques teach you). So if the brain can store one link, using the dependencies it can recall the entire chain. In the real world these causal dependencies might not exist it (it's just a ruse which helps the brain store more), yet they exist in the mind (and for good reason too, it's increasing your memory).....so you'll find the portly Mr. Shepherd dancing his unique jig at 111 even though in the real world there might actually be nothing to that number.

Well, I was in and out of that lucky pen thing in school (there's a psychological angle to this thing as well...will deal with that in a later post) but gave it up as a freak irrationality later. Is that the reason I can't seem to remember the names of people :-).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In my present, all alone...

The past is dead, the future unknown,
And I struggle in the present, all alone.

Desolate in the midst of friends,
Silent in the midst of voices,
Blind in the midst of colours too many,
Deaf in the midst of sounds uproarious,

Trudging through mists of lonely solitude,
I struggle in my present, all alone.


Have you heard Beethoven? They were playing his compositions in the background today in the elevator as we were ascending to our floor from the food court.

That music is crazy....I can lose myself in it for ages...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Breaking an infinite loop

You will not truly change, my friend, till you see the benefits of change;
You will not see the true benefits of change till you change...

How do I break this infinite loop of inaction?

Misunderstanding the Mean

The account below is fictional and is a piece of the writer's imagination
A: On an average, how many hours do you work in office?
B: 9 hrs
A: How many hours have you already put in today?
B: 5 hrs
A: So you'll be free in the evening today, why don't you join me for dinner?
(Office starts at 09:30 hrs, this talk takes place around 14:30 hrs)

Again a misunderstanding of the meaning of 'mean'. If I work for 9 hrs a day on an average and I've worked for 5hrs today, it tells you nothing about how long I'm going to work today till you know the distribution.

As Taleb writes in that delightful book ('Fooled by Randomness'), if the average life expectancy is 72, then does that mean my grandma who's 80 has a life-expectancy of -8....funny eh?
As your age increases, so does the life-expectancy because there are correspondingly people dying younger and 72 is the expected value (p1*X1+p2*X2+....). So if some of the Xs are small and you've lived long, you still have more years to live...how many...for that you need to know how many have died at exactly what ages.

Similarly for you to get an estimate of how long I'm going to be in office today, knowing that I've worked for 5hrs isn't enough (along with the mean and current time). You need to know over what period the mean is being calculated and the time interval for which I have been working on the other days.
And I won't tell you that :-). So probabilities will earn me my freedom from tasteless food and discussion :-).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Test of patience

Commuting from IIM-B on Bannerghatta road to the HLL office at ITPL, Whitefield and vice versa is a test of patience. In the usual course, it must take around an hour, but we always end up commuting for an hour and a half or two (it takes me lesser time to fly down from Mumbai), the extra time being accounted for by a traffic jam.

Why are things like traffic jams a dangerous portent for the society?

Because it's ok when one doesn't don't know the goal and is groping for the way, then he can blame himself. But when everything is crystal clear, yet one is hemmed in without apparent reason, and to add to that there is no clear villian who can be the target of resentment or ire, the mass starts getting restive. And it is boom time for slimy politicians and manipulators who can direct this mass ire according to their partisan purpose by concocting suitable tales.

Well, looks like traffic jams have become a part of life in Bangalore now....is it a silent indicator of things to come?