Some days when you miss the good old you, it is best to be the good old you.

So here it goes, Cheers, to the family, to the friends old and new. To fresh beginnings, and the refreshed beginnings. All things old. All things new. To blissful walks on threads of time. To this cryptic existence in space. To stories of attachments, and to narratives of detachments. To beliefs. To nihilisms. Facts. Fiction. The layer of clouds, and to the sun peeking through it. the rains. the emotions. to soliloquy.  to the conversations. to outer compulsions. to inner voices. to words said, and unsaid. to the success. and failures too. to peaks. to waves. to wind. to the messages in the wind. to roads taken. to exits missed. to aspirations. to ambitions. to chaos. to the order. to empty pages of a diary. to the rants on crumpled pages. to melancholic humdrums. to activity bursts.  to sense, and also to the antisense. To the ultimate heterogeneity of this all: LIFE.  Cheers. Indeed. 

 

I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.

-Rust (Matthew Mcconaughey) in True Detective

 

PS: It is good to be back! 

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Rabbits really Like Magic Conferences

Rabbits really like magic conferences. It is a good place to find a mate, and they can poop on the faces of ‘kings’, ‘queens’ and ‘jacks’ that are in the same hat.  

 Spoiler Alert:

The best kept secret of magicians union (yes, they have one too!) is that rabbits fertilize externally, and inside a black hat, it takes only 5 minutes for them to develop from fertilized egg to full-grown young adult (slightly older babies). 

 

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Books I Read in 2012

At the start of last year I made a  resolution to read 30 books over the span of 2012. A bit ambitious as I had’t been quite been up to date with my reading appetite in last few years. So fail I did at that goal, and quite miserably so, as I read 13 books ( and two books in half ,so that probably counts as 14). Anyways, I read 3 amazing books by Malcolm Gladwell, and happened to stumble upon the books by crazy and delightfully funny Mary Roach. Talking about books and writers, I got to meet one of my favorite authors, Davis Sedaris, at a book reading last year, and got an autographed copy of ‘Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk’. (More on that that later sometime). Anyways, here are the books I read in 2012. 

1. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (Mary Roach)
2. Bonk:The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (Mary Roach)
3. Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcolm Gladwell)
4. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Malcolm Gladwell)
5. Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking (Malcolm Gladwell)
6. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mindy Kaling)
7. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
8. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Seth Grahame-Smith)
9. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
10. Tripwire (Lee Child)
11. The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Sara Vowell)
12. Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)
13. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (David Sedaris)

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I will show you fear in a handful of dust

                                             Eliot, T.S. 1922. The Waste Land

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The Usual Concerns

So, umm…winter is here. As I lie on my bed, neatly tucked in the comforter, pondering about the present and future, reflecting on  peevish tone of present, and an expectant but dimming image of future, I take this opportunity to make another fleeting appearance  at the place that used to give me most comfort – this blog.

After the customary greetings, if you ask “How are things going?” and I would be obligated to say, “Not too great!” Here I will take another opportunity to vent out my professional frustrations and tell you my version of world-is-unfair saga, and probably keep wording my pessimism till you feel sorry for asking a rhetorical question. But the truth is that things have not been going too great; I have never been more lost or confused regarding my professional goals. Thats what happens when you believe in something passionately, and receive no support from the places you usually expect one.  For good or for bad, I still haven’t figured out a way to separate my professional life from personal one, and more importantly and worryingly on personal front I am aging like everybody else. I completely missed out on the current trend of using mason jars as coffee mugs. I am aging. And among all this I have missed writing/blogging more than ever.

Call it onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or a random pessimistic bickering, I think it was a good chat, and did I tell you that the winter is here?

PS : BTW I am hooked on to this song by Imagine Dragons. Give it an ear (or two)…

monkey, 2 trains and a conundrum of sorts

While teaching relative motion, my 11th grade physics teacher had asked us this question:

“If a munnkey [sic] is running on a train, and the speed of train is 60 km/h. The speed of munkey is 25 km/h. Another train crosses this train in opposite direction at a speed of 70 km/h. What is the relative speed of the other train to this running munnkey?”

We probably solved it that day, but now when I look back, I feel that the solution that day was an understatement, and an oversimplification of this complex phenomenon. Years later, after receiving a PhD, publishing a few scientific papers, while I am finding joy in the complexity of this universe, I get reminded of that question, and I ask the same question to myself that I asked that day; Why the hell is this fast munnkey running on the train?

My years of Aristotalian quest of a philosophical understanding has led me to understand following things, (or raise these further questions):

1) Munnkey is really fast. 

2) He/She is quite an adrenaline-junkie. Running on a running train falls is the category of those Red Bull sponsored extreme events.

3)  Where is he going? Does he have a family in other city/zoo. Is he running away from a zoo? Did he buy a ticket? If yes, then he can sit inside the train. There is no need to run on the top of train. Did he accidentally get stuck on the train? Was he just sitting, and train started moving. Maybe, he was double-crossed by some other bad monkey to meet him on the train top, right when the train moves. 

4) If the intended destination of this train is not his/her real destination, and he/she accidentally got on this train, then how desperate his this monkey to get home? Will he/she jump on the other train going in the opposite direction to go back home. Can he/she do it successfully? Can he/she judge the speeds of all things moving, to do a good jump? Did my physics teacher try to help him/her out? 

5) Owing to the serious implications of the previous point, I think the question of relative motion is bit flawed. The word relative itself is relative. I can calculate the relative speeds to a point on a train with no hesitation. Or a moving robot for that matter.  But this is a sad, confused and adrenaline-high monkey. I have no idea how they perceive things under those conditions. I mean, you know how time seems to move slower when you are anxious or sad, or scared. Similarly, I don’t know if he is really seeing speeds as they are. So i don’t really know what is the relative speed of opposing train to the munnkey. 

Summarily, it is a complex problem. Like the universe itself. 

 

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Years ago, me and a great friend of mine were researching to write a for-class-only book of ours aptly titled, ‘How to be the Center of Attraction, even when you are already the one’, and he mentioned one of the greatest pieces of Yoda wisdom I have ever received, “ Just watch things around you as if it is a TV screen”, he said. I wonder, if that is how I should have really lived my life thereafter.

As things get more inter-twined, and everything around me seems to be a complicated mess of sorts, I wonder if an unconnected one-way interaction would have kept things simpler. I wonder if I would have been further away by staying away, or I have gotten more away from the people that mattered by actually getting closer to them. Where I stand now, everybody seems to be asking me a question. If not asking a question, they seem to be blaming me for not having one, and worse still, sometimes for not having an answer to a non-existent question. I understand that life is and will always be a book of questions that does not have answers on the last few pages. Maybe there are –that’s why old people are calmer, and seem more content–but there is no way to peek into those pages with answers. But on some days, when I sit alone on a dark gloomy day, looking up at the overcast sky, staring at the blankness of everything, I smile at the similarities between inside and out.

[I know, this post does go against the normal programming of this blog. In fact, you may ask that there has been no programming in last year or so. To which, I say, “No comments!”

Arthur Dresier once said, “Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail.” And I say change Art to science, and you have my answer. Well, while we are there, change stored honey to crème brulee too! Confused that the quote does not mean anything now? Don’t worry, that makes two of us!]

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When life gives you lemons, DO NOT make lemonade!

They say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I tend to disagree, because in my own experience, life NEVER gives you lemons. When was the last time that some stranger named ‘life’ (first name, last name probably ‘boat’) walked up to you and said, “Here, have some lemons!” Ok, I am being too demanding, when was the last time you got lemons randomly, free of cost, with no anticipation of getting them in first place.

                  Secondly, lets assume that life did in fact give you lemons by some unordinary twist of fate, even then, the assumption behind this statement is that you are in pretty dire straits, and life has only given you lemons. Nothing else! If you just have lemons, and nothing else, making lemonade is bit tricky. Lemonade as I learned from my recent google search, needs sugar, water, and maraschino cherries (if you are making pink lemonade). Since life has given you nothing else, you will have to buy this stuff from grocery store that is if you have money. Now, essentially you are stuck in situation where for the sake of using those free lemons, you end up spending lot more of your money. This is exactly like getting Bath and Body works coupon that says “Get another tiny-meaningless-useless-hopeless shower gel even though you already have a good one at home with purchases above $50.” Moreover, if you have money, and you are in dire straits, you should probably save that money, and not waste on lemonade.

                  Now, lets assume that you are in dire straits and you don’t have money. In that case you can try to steal sugar, but any stealing exercise comes with the risk of getting caught and being sent to jail. So, essentially what you can try is to steal it and stash your sugar 2 feet under ground, and walk happily and carefree for next few days, pretending as if you know nothing about sugar packets that have gone missing from the town store. When the matter finally dies down, you can take them out again, and try to make your lemonade. Although, I am afraid your lemons and your sugar both would have gone bad by now.

                  Some of the more business-savvy among you might think that you should make lemonade, not for you, but for a lemonade-stall business. Although this idea is still plagued by problems mentioned in earlier paragraph, more importantly, you should not start a business on stolen goods. In long run, it leads to bankruptcy (e.g wall street banks), in which case you would be expecting more lemons. So, you are essentially stuck in vicious cycle of lemons-stealing-bankruptcy.  Even if you do decide to sell the lemonade made out of stolen goods, it is not a very profitable business. Else there would be more billionaires in schools than Silicon valley.

                  Now you may wonder, what can be done if life does give you lemons. I think you should either eat them raw, or just throw them. If you are really hell-bent on the path of moral corruptness, you should dry them till they become bullet-hard, and then attack the next guy who looks rich enough. But if you do get rich in doing so, don’t forget to buy a bagful of lemons, and give it to the next guy who looks in abject condition. Only then can we have a sustainable lemon-based societal development. 

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Directions to Nothing

1.00 AM on a cold winter night. While the wind passing through the leafless trees makes patchy yet distinctive noises, I ponder over the possibility of an uncertain future. Are there going to be turns on the road, tomorrow? Will the trees lining the road still be there after an overnight battle with the winds? Will the bus driver wear his blue hat tomorrow? Will the relatives be there? Will the relations be there? Will the friends be there? Will the friendships be there? How will the coffee taste tomorrow? Will all the traffic signals be green on my way to work? Will there be a possibility, tomorrow? Will there be a possibility of a possibility? 

There are approximately 300 sextillion (3 X 10^23) stars in the observable universe.  What are the chances that in this chaotic mirage of construction-deconstruction, perceivable reality of randomness, unobservable and incomprehensible vastness, there lies another earth? More importantly, what are the chances that somewhere out there, circling a remote star, there is a planet made entirely out of chocolate?

What are the chances? What are the chances that we have lived our future, and past is yet to come? What if at some curvature of space-time, there is a sign-board pointing towards a small town named ‘Nothing’.

 
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Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving. Extraordinary days require an extraordinary understanding of the world’s strings, and its stitches. Surrounded by an air of deep thoughts, and a mind full of crop circles of worldly challenges, he writes, “The man standing next to me is not going to make it big in life. He is going to end up in a job where he will have to wear a donut costume, stand on the traffic signal, and point travelers towards a whorehouse of food. Unable to feed his family, one day when his 4 year old kid will try to bite into his donut costume thinking that it is real food, he would feel disappointed, simultaneously at himself and his God.

The man behind the ticket-counter of Amtrak buys the first ticket of day for himself, but never travels. He is going to wonder about the fruitlessness of his habit in his days of senility. He is going to look at his boxes full of tickets to places he never visited; Boxes whose worth in his money was thousands of dollars, but for anyone else, it is just trash. He would go out, buy a cheap bottle of wine, drink half of it, and pour other half on the boxes of his unfulfilled ambitions, before burning the whole house down with him.

I am never going to become a writer, and I am never going to have a book in my name. But my state is not going to be as abysmal as the donut man, or the man at counter. So. Happy Thanksgiving! ”

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